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2023-24 Mountain West Basketball Power Rankings: January 2

It’s time for Mountain West action!

NCAA Basketball: San Diego State at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Happy New Year! Now it’s time for Mountain West action—every man for himself! This is the real fun part of the season, which tips off Tuesday with three MW competitions! I know, I can’t hold my excitement either! Anyway, let’s dive into our first power rankings of 2024!

1. Colorado State

The Rams enter MW play as the lone team ranked in the AP Top 25 poll (even though SDSU has a convincing case to be ranked too after last week). They are still dealing with injuries to Josiah Strong and Jalen Lake, but they are still the best team in the conference with the most Quad 1-2 wins (5) of any MW team; only one other team (SDSU - 4) has more than three.

2. San Diego State

Both San Diego State and Gonzaga—who both didn’t generate as much buzz in non-conference play as they usually would—were without a Quad 1 win before Friday’s contest. Courtesy of valiant efforts from Reese Dixon-Waters, Jaedon LeDee and Darrion Trammell, the Aztecs earned a huge 10-point road win over Gonzaga; it became one of six MW programs with at least one Quad 1 win after two single-digit Q1 losses to BYU and Grand Canyon.

3. Nevada

The Wolf Pack closed non-conference play at 13-1—their best start since 2018-19—and are in firm position to compete for another Mountain West Title. Kenan Blackshear and Jarod Lucas are two of the best guards in the conference and, while they’ve struggled with their efficiency, are defending well (especially Blackshear, an all-MW defender). They begin MW action Saturday against Fresno State.

4. New Mexico

We haven’t really seen an extended 2023-24 sample of Jaelen House, Jamal Mashburn Jr., Donovan Dent and JT Toppin together because of injury—which makes its 13-1 start all the more impressive. It is the only top-5 team in the conference without a Quad 1 win. But four of their first five MW games are slated to be Quad 1-2 games, beginning with top-ranked Colorado State in Fort Collins, Colo., on Tuesday. Buckle up!

5. Utah State

Utah State was arguably the biggest surprise story in the MW after literally having a new team heading into this season. They’re getting it done on the defensive end and have a great mid- to low-post hub in Great Osobar (pun intended). Though I’m interested to see how their early season success translates heading into conference play, which USU will begin on Tuesday against Air Force.

6. Boise State

The Broncos concluded their gauntlet of a non-conference stretch with a 22-point win against Utah Valley. Going 9-4 with three Quad 3 wins, it put itself in firm position to earn an at-large bid if it can take care of business over the next two months, which is always a tall task because of how stout the competition is. I’m not going to doubt a Leon Rose team until I have a big reason to—which I don’t ... yet.

7. UNLV

UNLV is the only team in the MW that has not officially closed non-conference play, though it’s lone non-con game will be Tuesday against Bethesda, apart of the NCCAA. UNLV has won three of its last five games against D-I opponents and all five of their opening MW games will be against Quad 1-2 foes, beginning with San Diego State inside Viejas on Saturday.

8. San Jose State

San Jose State, losers of four of its last six, did not play a game last week and will enter MW play with a near two-week layoff. The Spartans, who have four scorers in double figures, led by MJ Amey (14.5 ppg) and point guard Alvaro Cardenas (13.4 ppg, 5.7 apg), begin MW play in Laramie, Wyo., against Wyoming on Tuesday.

9. Fresno State

Fresno State closed non-conference play with a four-point win over the University of San Diego, which qualified as a Quad 3 victory, its first of the season. Fresno hit just two 3-pointers, but dominated the interior with its double-big unit in Enoch Boakye and Eduardo Andre. It begins MW play with a tough two-game slate against San Diego State and Nevada this week.

10. Wyoming

Wyoming has lost three of its last four games, closing non-conference play against BYU, a top-15 team nationally who’s a top-3 team based on KenPom’s metrics. Sam Griffin has scored at least 20 points in three of the team’s last five games and came one point shy of tying his season high (26) against the Cougars, but couldn’t get much help otherwise. Wyoming will begin MW play Tuesday against SJSU at home, where it’s 4-1 this season.

11. Air Force

Air Force did not play a game last week and will begin MW play Tuesday afternoon against Utah State, who are winners of 11 straight. All seven of the Falcons’ wins are Quad 4 wins and it is the only MW team to have not played a Quad 1-2 game; luckily for them, Tuesday’s MW opener will be a Quad 2 game.