It was another chaotic week in the Mountain West men’s basketball lore, which included multiple top-25 upsets and yet another shakeup atop the conference. Without further ado, let’s hop into this week’s power rankings.
1. Colorado State
As a result of going 2-0 last week, Colorado State is back atop of our weekly rankings that never seem to have any stability. CSU knocked off Boise State and SJSU last week by 13 and 19 points, respectively. The Rams have now won four straight, but will have three straight Quad 1 games upcoming. They will face a very tough road test Tuesday against SDSU before hosting Utah State—a pivotal stretch for their long-term outlook (in the regular season).
2. Utah State
Utah State may have lost by 14 to the Wolf Pack at home last week, but it redeemed itself Saturday night against Boise State. It held Boise to 35.6 percent shooting and just 7-of-29 from 3-point range. It also got great performances from their backcourt of Darius Brown II and Mason Falslev, who scored 18 and 25 points, respectively. The Aggies are, once again, the outright leader atop the conference and will play three of their next four on the road.
Even though they are No. 3 in this week’s rankings, they are the clear winners this week. For the first time in school history, Nevada secured two wins over top-25 opponents, downing Utah State and San Diego State, ranked No. 22 and No. 24, respectively. It has three top-25 wins this season and is one of two MW teams—13 nationally—with at least five Quad 1 wins, despite being without a current Quad 2 victory. The Wolf Pack still have ground to make up, but their at-large chances received a boost last week. They will have another pivotal two-game stretch this week with New Mexico and intrastate rival UNLV.
4. San Diego State
San Diego State downed Air Force on the road, marking its second true road win in MW play. But it lost its sixth Quad 1 game of the season to Nevada on Friday— one of the most thrilling MW games this season. Nevada almost fumbled the game away with free-throw shooting, but the Aztecs couldn’t take control of the game after leading by four multiple times late. They have three more Quad 1 games before their schedule eases up, so this upcoming stretch will be critical for their regular season standing.
5. Boise State
Boise State suffered two consecutive losses to Colorado State and Utah State, which is why moved from atop the list to nearly the top-5 for this week’s rankings. It was the toughest stretch that any MW team had last week, in all fairness. But the Broncos are now 1-3 over their last four Quad 1 games after going 4-1 in their previous five, now falling to 5-6 overall in Q1 games. Their schedule is very manageable over the next two weeks, beginning with Fresno State on Saturday.
Death, taxes, UNLV playing spoiler. In all seriousness, the Runnin’ Rebels are only 1.5 games out of the MW lead, believe it or not. They’ve also beaten Richard Pitino’s Lobos in four of their last meetings, including their last three. They’re sneakily 4-4 in Quad 1 games and have won five of their last seven overall. They don’t have the resume for an at-large bid with three Quad 4 losses, but UNLV is finding its groove on both sides of the basketball—spearheaded by star freshman Dedan Thomas, Kalib and Keylan Boone and Luis Rodriguez.
7. New Mexico
New Mexico falls to No. 7 in this week’s rankings after their three-point loss at home to UNLV Saturday. They’ve now lost two straight at home to Boise and UNLV after winning their first nine inside The Pit, where they’ve looked nearly unbeatable. Now, they will finish the regular season with four of their six against Quad 1 foes—including a daunting two-game road trip this week against Nevada and San Diego State. It’s not getting any easier for the Lobos, who have just four combined Quad 1-2 wins this season.
8. Fresno State
Fresno State took care of business in both of their two games against San Jose State and Air Force. The latter came on the back of former Wyoming transfer Xavier DuSell, who scored 29 points and drained seven of eight from 3-point range to squeak out the two-point win. Fun fact: Fresno State’s only four wins of MW play have come against Air Force and SJSU this season, winning by a combined 31 points (7.8 ppg). Conversely, over its other seven MW games, it’s 0-7 with a minus-89 point differential (-12.7 ppg).
Wyoming lost their lone game of the week last week against New Mexico, losing by 18. It was their first MW home loss of the season after starting 4-0. It improved from its dismal offensive showing against UNLV, though it allowed New Mexico to can 13 of their 35 3-point attempts and a minus-10 on the glass, despite having three fewer turnovers (which has been a plaguing issue for the Pokes this season). It does not get any easier with a home affair against Utah State before it seeks its second road victory of conference play against San Jose State Saturday.
10. San Jose State
The Spartans have now lost seven straight games, including two to Fresno State and Colorado State by a combined 31 points last week. They posted just 79.4 points per 100 possessions over those two games—plus an 83.4 adjusted offensive rating, the 13th-worst in the country over the last week—with a 41.2 effective field goal percentage (26th-worst) and a 38.8 2-point percentage (12th-worst). Yikes! They will have two Quad 4 home games this week against Air Force and Wyoming, who rank No. 9 and 10 in adjusted defensive rating, per KenPom, to hopefully get back on track before its daunting regular season slate to end the season.
11. Air Force
On a similar note, Air Force has lost five straight games, coming just shy of earning its second MW win of the season against Fresno State on Saturday. They have not won a home game since Nov. 22 when it beat VMI, who’s No. 355 (out of No. 362) in NET and No. 349 in KenPom, by 10. They will seek their second non-Quad 4 win this week against San Jose State (Q3) in their only game this week before returning home to face UNLV on Feb. 21.