We saw a pair of big upsets in the first full week of February Mountain West men’s basketball hoops! Without any spoilers, let’s dive into this week’s power rankings!
1. San Diego State (20-5, 11-2)
Last week: 1
Skinny: San Diego State remains atop our power rankings again this week! They narrowly beat Utah State on the road in what was a very physical, emotional atmosphere from the opening tip. It followed by slashing UNLV on Saturday, 82-71 — when the score wasn’t very indicative of the game at hand. They’ve won seven of their last eight — the lone loss coming to Nevada — with five games left in the schedule; they are one game ahead of the Pack in the standings, but yet again possess the best odds at earning an at-large bid with its 8-5 record in Quad 1 and 2 games. It now plays three of their next four away from home, beginning with Fresno State on Wednesday.
2. Nevada (20-6, 10-3)
Last week: 2
Skinny: With its buzzer-beating win over New Mexico followed by its 11-point win against Fresno State, the Pack have clearly solidified themselves as one of the best teams in the Mountain West. Steve Alford notched his first 20-win season with Nevada — the 16th of his career — after, once again, losing his three best players to the transfer portal. Friday’s win over the Bulldogs was a little closer than it would’ve hoped — especially since Fresno was without Isaih Moore, arguably their best player — but Nevada was able to remain undefeated at home heading into the final stretch. They still can’t afford to lose these upcoming Quad 3-4 contests, however.
Last week: 3
Skinny: After he missed last weekend’s game against San Diego State due to an ankle injury, Marcus Shaver returned to the lineup. Shaver had 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting with four rebounds and four steals, but his contribution wasn’t the only one. In fact all five of Boise’s starters combined to score **checks notes** **double checks again, but with glasses** all 75 points, combining to shoot 55.1 percent from the floor and 41.2 percent from 3-point range. Pretty impressive, right?
4. Utah State (19-7, 8-5)
Last week: 4
Skinny: In two pivotal Quad 1 and 2 games, Utah State lost both by a combined to seven points to San Diego State and San Jose State, respectively. They drop to 6-5 in such games while it was mere possessions away from being 7-4, or 8-3. Those are a pair they’d definitely like to have back, but will have chances against Nevada, UNLV and Boise at the end of the season to improve its resume. Still, the Aggies can’t seem to get out of their own way at times, and they might cost them an NCAA Tournament opportunity.
5. San Jose State (15-10, 6-6)
Last week: 6
Skinny: San Jose entered 0-5 against the conference’s top-5 heading into the week. Well, they ceased those demons on Saturday, upsetting Utah State 69-64. They will have three more games against New Mexico, Nevada and Boise State and will likely need to win at least one of those games if they want a top-6/7 seed heading into the MW Tournament, but its win against the Aggies could be a huge confidence boost heading into its final six games.
6. New Mexico (19-6, 6-6)
Last week: 5
Skinny: The conference’s leading scorer, Jamal Mashburn, did all he could against Air Force — scoring a game-high 32 points — but the Lobos were not able to overcome the Falcons on the road without their best player in Jaelen House. It didn’t help that their defense was out of sorts all game, with the Falcons got 71 combined points from Jake Heidbreder, Rytis Petraitis, Beau Baker and Carter Murphy on 74.3 percent shooting. The Lobos, who have lost four of five, need to turn it around quickly if they want to keep their Bubble hopes alive.
7. Air Force (13-13, 4-9)
Last week: 8
Skinny: The Falcons snapped a six-game losing streak against New Mexico — albeit without House, the arguable MW Player of the Year to date — with a 12-point victory, its first win since Jan. 17 and its first Quad 2 win since it beat Colorado State on Jan. 10. The Falcons recorded a season-high 89 points on 66.0 percent shooting with impactful outings from four key contributors. Can Air Force ride that momentum against a Utah State squad coming off two straight losses? We’ll find out Tuesday!
8. Fresno State (9-15, 5-8)
Last week: 7
Skinny: Fresno State, after earning an eight-point win against the Spartans, gave Nevada all they can handle on the road Friday before the Pack pulled away late. I guess Fresno isn’t invincible against collegiate programs from the state of Nevada after all. They’ve been much better at home in conference play, but that will be tested this week with SDSU and Colorado State coming to town.
9. UNLV (16-9, 5-8)
Last week: 9
Skinny: The Runnin Rebels’ rebounded against a dormant Wyoming program on Wednesday. But it was one step forward, two steps back — getting waxed by SDSU in Viejas. The Aztecs jumped out to a very early 20-point lead and led by at least 17-18 points the majority of the way, though UNLV only lost by 11 in the end. Their resume isn’t as bad as it might seem, being 5-5 in Quad 1-2 games on the season, but haven’t quite put it together in conference play. They will have another Q1 matchup this week at Boise, but will first have to go through SJSU.
10. Colorado State (11-14, 3-9)
Last week: 10
Skinny: In the “Who can snap a five-game losing streak? Me or you?” affair between CSU and Air Force, the Rams came out on top with a 16-point victory, after losing by eight to SJSU earlier in the season. Isaiah Stevens and John Tonje combined for 41 points and its defense really stood out, but the Rams will close the regular season with four of six against Q1-2 foes. It has work to do to improve its seeding, but it’s not going to come easy.
11. Wyoming (7-17, 2-10)
Last week: 11
Skinny: It was a bad week. A really bad week. Let’s just say that.