If you want to feel any closer to March without it actually being March, the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament begins Monday. But we’re not here to talk about that — the Mountain West enters its final week of the regular season with plenty of seeding on the line, despite four of the five teams already locking up first-round byes. Let’s dive into this week’s power rankings!
1. San Diego State (23-5, 14-2)
Last week: 1
Skinny: San Diego State places atop our rankings once again. They’ve won 10 of their last 11 — six by double figures — but three others have come by two points apiece. This week, it’s time to give Lamont Butler his flowers! The 6-foot-2 guard’s having a career season and delivered an ice-cold buzzer beater against New Mexico. They’ll meet Boise State on Tuesday to possibly seal its third regular season title in four seasons!
2. Nevada (22-7, 12-4)
Last week: 4
Skinny: It’s been a rough three-game stretch for Wolf Pack guard Jarod Lucas, but Nevada squeaked out a four-point win on the road against Fresno State after a 15-point victory against SJSU. Nevada has a chance to earn the No. 2 seed ahead of next week’s Mountain West Tournament with contests against Wyoming on Monday followed by UNLV — who they lost to earlier this season — in Reno.
3. Boise State (22-7, 12-4)
Last week: 2
Skinny: It went down as a Quad 2 loss, but Boise’s 74-68 overtime loss to SJSU still stings. It marked their third Q2 loss of the season, and the Broncos went scoreless for the final 4:47 of regulation and missed six of their eight field goal attempts in overtime, despite four of its five starters scoring in double figures. They’re still likely in the NCAA Tournament, but will have to shake off its tough loss with SDSU coming to town followed by heading to Utah State on Saturday.
4. Utah State (22-7, 11-5)
Last week: 3
Skinny: Utah State’s won three straight, and their only game last week was a 10-point win over Wyoming despite shooting 7-of-27 from beyond the arc. They’ve locked up a conference bye spot, but still has a chance to beef up its resume — USU’s currently 6-5 in Quad 1-2 games — with UNLV and Boise State this week.
5. San Jose State (17-12, 8-8)
Last week: 6
Skinny: After it trailed at halftime 28-24, Nevada outscored the Spartans by 19 in the second-half, as SJSU lost by 15 on the road in one of the conference’s toughest environments. Though SJSU followed suit by downing Boise State in overtime, including holding the Broncos scoreless for nearly five minutes of regulation, climbing back down seven. Omari Moore continues to climb up the consideration boards for the Mountain West Player of the Year ... and San Jose State is now in position to earn a bye! What a job that Tim Miles has done.
6. New Mexico (20-9, 7-9)
Last week: 5
Skinny: New Mexico’s lost six of their last seven and Butler all but eliminated their at-large chances with his game-winning buzzer beating triple. The Aztecs are now two games below .500 in Mountain West play with Colorado State and Fresno State left on the schedule. They can still earn a conference bye, but would be the No. 6 seed scheduled to face Wyoming if the season ended today.
7. UNLV (17-11, 6-10)
Last week: 8
Skinny: UNLV avoided another scare on Friday, this time at home with a one-point win over Air Force, despite shooting 3-of-20 from 3-point range. Air Force only made seven 3s, so it wasn’t too much of a backbreaker, and the Runnin’ Rebels were led by none other than Elijah Harkless — who posted another efficient outing from inside-the-arc. There’s still room for UNLV to move up in the standings, but they will likely need to beat Utah State and Nevada, and will need UNM to lose to at least one of Fresno State or Colorado State this week.
8. Colorado State (13-16, 5-11)
Last week: 9
Skinny: John Tonje recorded another 20-point outing, Isaiah Stevens continues to showcase why he’s arguably the conference’s best passer and the Rams have now won three of their last five. They close the season at San Jose State and New Mexico to potentially move up in seeding ahead of the tournament, hoping to string together consecutive wins for the first time since mid-December.
9. Air Force (14-16, 5-12)
Last week: 7
Skinny: Air Force has not won two straight since mid-January. That did not change this week, suffering a five-point defeat to Fresno State before losing by one on the road to UNLV on Friday. The latter was one of their worst offensive outputs of the season, recording fewer than 85 points per 100 possessions for the third time all season — sporting a sub-49.0 percent true-shooting percentage and turning the rock over 14 times. Their final game will be on the road against San Jose State.
10. Fresno State (10-18, 6-11)
Last week: 10
Skinny: Fresno State has been an incredibly tough team to play at home, especially in MW Play. They’ve given all they can handle to UNLV, SJSU, SDSU and Colorado State. They gave another hard-fought effort to Nevada on Friday, limiting the Pack to just five made 3s on 52.5 percent true-shooting. Though they coughed up the rock 15 times and shot just 25.7 percent from deep on 35 attempts — not necessarily the recipe for success.
11. Wyoming (8-20, 3-13)
Last week: 11
Skinny: Wyoming squandered another late-game opportunity against Colorado State, and have now lost six of their last seven. They’ll close the regular season with arguably the conference’s two-best teams in Nevada and San Diego State.