We are officially one week into Mountain West play in this 2023-24 men’s basketball season. The course of events led to a big shakeup in the top-5, where a four-to-five bid possibility continues to exist (it’s still too early to tell, but the signs are there!). Without further ado, let’s hop into this week’s power rankings!
1. San Diego State
I wrote more about San Diego State’s recent surge last week, which you can read here. But they’re playing the best basketball of the season and are allowing the 13th-fewest adjusted points per 100 possessions since the start of December. This offense is as explosive as it’s been all season and they would have the conference’s player of the year frontrunner if the season ended today in Jaedon LeDee, who’s averaging an absurd 21.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.2 steals on 57.4/39.1/73.4 (63.7 TS%) shooting splits.
2. Utah State
The Aggies, who have now won 13 straight (!!!!), earned their first ranked home victory since 2018-19, handing Colorado State its second loss of the season Saturday evening. Great Osobar was outstanding, tallying 20 points and 14 rebounds, while the Aggies shot 63.0 percent in the second half. First-year Danny Sprinkle, inhering a program with zero returning production, has done one heck of a job with this program and deserves all the credit in the world ... and then some.
3. Colorado State
Colorado State’s loss Saturday drops them to No. 3 in this week’s rankings. Its 72 points marked its third-lowest output this season; it shot 44.8 percent (second-lowest FG%) but made only four of its 11 free-throws, which was the ultimate difference in the game. They still have a top-20 offense in the country and will look to bounce back Tuesday against Boise State.
The shakeup in this week’s top 3 bumped the Wolf Pack out of the top-3. Make no mistake, this Nevada squad is still very good and its 15-point win over Fresno State Saturday night all but proved that. Jarod Lucas and Kenan Blackshear—who combined for 35 points—continued to shine, and they have a top-30 defense with plenty of versatility/switchability.
5. New Mexico
New Mexico shook off an eight-point loss to the Rams with a 17-point victory over Wyoming Saturday, forcing 23 turnovers (16 live-ball) despite an inefficient offensive evening. Donovan Dent once against showcased why he’s been one of the MW’s breakout stars, totaling 21 points and four assists on 9-of-16 shooting. I sound like a broken record, but you can’t dismiss the Lobos’ backcourt depth combined with its youth and versatility in the frontcourt.
6. Boise State
O’Mar Stanley and Tyson Degenhart (down the stretch) willed the Broncos to a nine-point victory Friday evening, outscoring SJSU 30-12 over the final 9:22. Stanley finished with a career-high 30 points on 11-of-17 shooting with 11 boards and three assists, while Degenhart finished with 21 points and six rebounds with a pair of 3s. I’m still slightly concerned about Boise’s backcourt, which has underperformed and, frankly, has been a roller coaster on the offensive end. But I’ve been encouraged how it hasn’t bled into their defense, a top-50 unit in the country. Plus, Boise’s still won seven of their last eight games.
UNLV couldn’t overcome an early 16-point deficit in Viejas Arena Saturday afternoon—one of the toughest environments to play not only in the Mountain West, but the entire West Coast. That’s never easy to overcome against an Aztec squad playing some of their best basketball this season. It will have two straight at home against New Mexico and Utah State with a potential to build on its resume.
8. San Jose State
After it held a nine-point lead with less than 10 minutes remaining, San Jose State couldn’t close the door on Boise State Friday evening. MJ Amey was exceptional in the first half, but was shut down down the stretch and couldn’t find an answer for O’Mar Stanley. The Spartans are now losers of three of their last four and six of their last eight with San Diego State looming on Tuesday.
Wyoming coughed up 23 turnovers, turning the rock over on nearly one-third of their possessions (32.1 TO%) Saturday evening against New Mexico. It marked their highest turnover percentage of the season, as they now rank amongst the bottom-20 teams nationally in turnover rate (21.6). That’s a problem—a big problem. They have not secured a true road win this season and will have a tough test ahead against Utah State Tuesday.
10. Fresno State
After an encouraging first half, Fresno State got outscored by 12 points at home against the Wolf Pack on Saturday after getting trucked by SDSU Wednesday. It has now lost four of its last five—three of the four losses coming by 15 or more points—with just one game this week. The Bulldogs’ best source of winning games is on the defensive end—its offense is not potent enough to outscore teams if they score 70 or more points (1-4 when opponents score 70-plus this season).
11. Air Force
Air Force has lost four straight after winning five straight, falling to Utah State by 28 on Tuesday. It’s getting blasted on the defensive end, allowing 114.6 points per 100 possessions over its last four games with an opponents effective field goal percentage of 61.5 percent—the 40th and 3rd marks nationally over that span, respectively.