Iit’s March, and Mountain West Tournament week!
O.K., calm the excitement. We had a lot of action and surprising finishes within the last week! Let’s dive into our last regular season power rankings of the men’s basketball season and unpack all of it!
1. San Diego State, 24-6 (15-3)
Last week: 1
For the third time in four seasons, the Aztecs earned the regular season Mountain West championship! In five previous Mountain West Tournament bouts, Brian Dutcher’s squad has taken home the trophy twice — and will be the presumptive favorites to take home a third this week.
2. Utah State, 24-7 (13-5)
Last week: 4
Utah State’s dominant first half on Saturday — shooting 62 percent from the floor, knocking down five 3-pointers while outscoring Boise State by 14 after a semi-slow start — fueled their 13-point win over the Broncos, earning the conference’s No. 3 seed (amid Nevada’s two-point loss). Taylor Funk seemed to have snapped out of his Funk (pun intended), canning four of his six 3-pointers and finishing with a game-high 24 points. Utah State’s win over Boise secured their first-and-only Quad 1 win of the season, getting right back into the thick of the bubble.
3. Boise State, 23-8 (13-5)
Last week: 3
Boise State still landed the No. 2 seed in this week’s tourney, despite its loss to Utah State on Saturday. They still sit in good position for an at-large bid. They’re currently No. 27 in the NET with 11 Quad 1 and 2 wins. Leon Rice’s squad isn’t very deep, but they they have an elite defense and a very rock solid top-5 that could give any team a challenge in a neutral site. Its regular season didn’t end on the right note obviously, but I expect the Broncos to be incredibly motiviated to repeat as MW tournament champs this week.
4. Nevada, 22-9 (12-6)
Last week: 2
Most everything that could’ve possibly went haywire for Nevada this week did, losing two consecutive Quad 3 games to Wyoming and UNLV after having not lost any all season. Most projections still have them making the NCAA Tournament, but help elsewhere in addition to a good MW tournament showing could go a long way for securing a spot. It’s still too early to make any final prognostications — still too much can happen in one day, let alone six days — but you couldn’t have scripted a more ill-timed week to suffer a couple of “bad” losses for Steve Alford’s squad.
5. San Jose State, 19-12 (10-8)
Last week: 5
San Jose State! Tim Miles! Omari Moore! They already clinched a first-round bye in the Mountain West for the first time in their program’s history with New Mexico’s loss to Colorado State on Friday, but they still came back down from 20 points to secure 63-61 win over Air Force. The unbelievable season for the Spartans will reach a cross roads, as they face Nevada, who they’ve lost two twice by a combined of 42 points, in the quarterfinal round Thursday. Will the third time be a charm?
6. New Mexico, 21-10 (8-10)
Last week: 6
New Mexico suffered yet another loss on Friday, eliminating their chances at possibly earning a first-round bye in the tournament. To some extent, their regular season was a success — relative to 2021-22 — but a dissapointing end to conference play can still be overshadowed by an improbable run in this week’s tournament. They have two of the best guards in the conference — and arguably the conference’s player of the year in Jamal Mashburn — with phenomenal glue guys in Josiah Allick and Morris Udeze. Don’t be surprised if they go on a run.
7. UNLV, 18-12 (7-11)
Last week: 8
Days after a dismal 25-point drubbing on Senior Night, the Rebels traveled into Reno in front of a sold-out crowd and upset the Wolf Pack in overtime, 69-67 — despite attempting 24 fewer free-throws and shooting less than 27 percent from 3-point range. UNLV has now won four straight against their intrastate rival, handing them their only loss inside Lawlor this season. Now UNLV will have to ride that momentum into the tournament, beginning with Air Force, who they narrowly beat a week-and-a-half ago.
8. Colorado State, 14-17 (6-12)
Last week: 7
Colorado State capped off the regular season with an impressive 92-point showing against the Lobos, spearheaded by two great showings from two of their best players in Isaiah Stevens and John Tonje. Stevens posted 17 points and 13 assists — his third game (over his last seven) with at least 12 assists — while Tonje continued his late season terror with 24 points on 7-of-12 shooting. It marked their most efficient offensive output this season (per KenPom), scoring 132.1 points per 100 possessions, but will look to replicate that offensive output against a sturdy Fresno State defense on Wednesday.
9. Fresno State, 11-19 (6-12)
Last week: 10
Fresno State was not in position to control their own destiny heading into the weekend, already capping off its 18-game conference slate earlier in the week. Instead, it scored 108 points in its season finale against Chicago State, winning by 36. Jemarl Baker had a season-high 43 points on 10-of-11 from long range (!!!!!!), as Fresno scored north of 50 points in both halves, scoring nearly 160 points per 100 possessions. Fairly good way to conclude the regular season, right?
10. Air Force, 14-17 (5-13)
Last week: 9
Air Force ends the regular season losing three straight and 10 of their final 12, which is why they come in No. 10 in our final regular season power rankings. They squandered a 20-point second-half lead over San Jose State on Saturday, getting outscored 30-10 over the game’s final 13:17, losing by two — their second straight one-possession loss. They made just four field goals in the final 14 minutes and shot 27.6 percent in the second-half after shooting 51.7 percent in the first half. Now the Falcons will be tasked with upsetting UNLV, who they lost by one in Vegas on Feb. 24.
11. Wyoming, 9-21 (4-14)
Last week: 11
Wyoming earned its fourth conference win of the season on senior night with a nine-point win against Nevada, but was at the wrong end of a 17-point loss to San Diego State. The Pokes will still be without Graham Ike, but the Pokes have one of the conference’s most respected players in Hunter Maldonado — who holds the assists record — two lights out shooters in Xavier DuSell and Brendan Wenzal with a budding big man in Jeremiah Oden. After a disappointing season mired by injuries and adversity, I’ll be interested to see how Wyoming fares against its counterparts in a neutral site where anything’s possible.