We had another shift throughout the Mountain West conference this last week, as we now enter the final full week of January. Without further ado, let’s hop into this week’s rankings!
1. Boise State
Despite a close loss at home to UNLV last week, Boise State fought off San Diego State inside ExtraMile Arena to earn a crucial one-point victory, their fifth over their last six games. Even though Boise barely places within the top-50 in NET, they earn this week’s top spot; they’re 4-1 in MWC play—including three Quad 1 wins in-conference (fourth total) ... nobody has more than three on the season. O’Mar Stanley, who recently entered the starting five, is also averaging 15.8 points and 10 rebounds in conference play.
2. New Mexico
The Lobos have now won three straight, including two victories over Utah State and Air Force by 13 points and 19 points, respectively. You can see the trio of Donovan Dent, Jaelen House and Jamal Mashburn begin to figure it out offensively together, now that we have a bigger sample of games to work off of. Though freshman JT Toppin has been exceptional offensively in MW play, averaging 15.5 points and 9.5 rebounds on 62.4 percent true shooting in six games.
3. Utah State
The Aggies no longer hold the top spot after suffering a 13-point loss to New Mexico, where it allowed Utah State to shoot 29-of-30 from inside the arc despite cobbling together eight more rebounds (12 offensive). But they bounced back Saturday with a demonstrative 21-point victory over Fresno State, picking apart its 2-3 zone over the final 10 minutes. Their lone game this week will be a barn burner—on the road against Boise State—with three of their following four games against Quad 1-2 foes. They still have one Quad 1 win, but are 5-0 in Quad 2 games in 2023-24.
4. San Diego State
After fending off the Wolf Pack at home on Wednesday, SDSU was not able to secure a tough road victory over Boise State, which was a hyper-physical contest. Darrion Trammell was productive after his one-game absence, scoring nine points with six boards off the bench. But Jaedon LeDee was limited to 13 points and eight rebounds and the Aztecs were limited to just 6-of-24 from distance after a solid offensive start.
5. Colorado State
Colorado State fought back from a 10-point second-half deficit to secure a three-point win at home against UNLV on the back of Isaiah Stevens, Nique Clifford and Patrick Cartier down the stretch. Stevens finished with 18 points and seven assists, while Clifford canned three triples for 21 points. They still have a top-20 offense despite an inconsistent start to begin MW play, but they will need to be better on the road, starting with Nevada (who’s in a desperate spot) and Wyoming, which is a tough environment to play, this week.
We have a new entry into the top-6!!! UNLV secured a huge road victory over Boise State on Tuesday and nearly rattled off a second straight road victory over Colorado State Friday squandering a double figure second-half advantage. They are victors of five of their last eight, with two of those losses having come by one possession. Their next four games—against Air Force, SJSU, Fresno State and Wyoming—are all manageable, where it could climb up the ladder of the MW standings.
Nevada, losers of three straight, has dropped out of the top-6 for the first time this season. Every team over a 30-plus game season has highs and lows—this is Nevada’s low. It suffered a five-point loss to Wyoming over the weekend, where it shot 57.7 percent and 13-of-23 from 3-point range—sporting a 71.4 true-shooting percentage with a 70.2 effective field goal percentage, all of which are season-high marks against Division-I opponents this season. This team must get out to better starts and fortify things defensively, where the results have been rather inconsistent since MW play began. I trust Alford and Co. to figure it out, however.
Wyoming secured its first non-Quad 3-4 victory of the season at home on Saturday, where it pieced together its best offensive performance of the season. This marks the third time all season that the Pokes have earned two consecutive victories but will have a challenging road ahead this upcoming week with a road date against San Diego State and a home affair against Colorado State, two Quad 1 opponents.
9. Fresno State
The Bulldogs are now losers of four of their last five and six of their last eight. Fresno fell down by 13 on the road against Utah State and looked as if they patched it together defensively when it went to zone to begin the second half, but an outburst down the stretch from the Aggie offense followed by a failure to convert from deep was just too much to overcome for Fresno State, who’s still without a non-Quad 4 victory this season.
10. San Jose State
San Jose State drops to No. 10 after losing by three to Fresno State in their only game last week. Tibet Gorener and Trey Anderson had two of its best performances of the season, combining for 53 points on 20-of-29 shooting, But they were not able to stop Isaiah Hill, Enoch Boakye and Xavier DuSell on the other end. The Spartans have also lost four of five and eight of their last 11, though five of those losses have come by four points or fewer. The game of inches!
11. Air Force
They’re the only MW team without a conference win and have lost eight straight. Eek!