The final week of Mountain West men’s basketball featured plenty of exciting action, including a thriller in Vegas between Colorado State and UNLV, top-notch showdowns in Southern California between SDSU-Nevada and SDSU-New Mexico, an electric late Friday night run in Reno and a low -Scoring Rock Fight in Fresno!
The Mountain West still holds the fifth spot among conferences on the NET and has offered plenty of par in just a few weeks of the conference starting! Let’s dive into this week’s leaderboard as we have a new #1!
11 Wyoming (5-12, 0-5)
So far: 10
The Pokes have now lost six straight games and move up to last place in this week’s Power rankings. They lost to Utah State in Logan around 8 p.m. before being transported home from Boise at 5 p.m. Saturday night. They have now conceded more than 80 points in three straight games for the first time since 2020-21 and are struggling to get stops. They had the second-worst offense and worst defense in Mountain West competition and will face one of MW’s best offenses Saturday at Colorado State. You need to find out, and fast.
10. Fresno State (6-11, 2-4)
So far: 9
The good news? Saturday marked Fresno State’s third game in which an opponent scored 55 points or fewer this season. The bad news? They scored just 48 points, clinking 13 of their 15 3s despite shooting almost 50 percent (18-38) from inside the arc. Their offense was by far the worst against conference competition, shooting just 29.5 percent from long range with an adjusted offensive rating of 93.8 (per KenPom) — which would be a bottom 20 mark nationally over an entire season. your next game? Against UNLV, who has a resolute defense on Saturday.
9th Air Force (11-7, 2-3)
So far: 11
The Air Force has had its first two-game winning streak since winning four straight games from Dec. 6-20 and earning back-to-back wins over Colorado State and Fresno State (in a stone fight). Against the Bulldogs, the Air Force made just eight of their 29 2-point attempts but still scraped together 15 points from Ethan Taylor and 13 from Marcell McCreary in the 13-point win. They’re a long way from making noise at the conference, but grabbing two wins on the road is a good way to build momentum when Wyoming heads to Colorado Springs on Tuesday.
8.UNLV (12-5, 1-4)
So far: 5
Stuck in the bubble heading into the week, UNLV didn’t help their case with an 18-point loss to Boise State and a one-point overtime loss to Colorado State. They have now lost four of their five conference games. And while the win over New Mexico was impressive – they need to figure out how to end games. They are now 0-3 in five-point games – with losses to San Francisco, San Jose State and the aforementioned CSU. You have an opportunity to rejoin the bubble talk with Utah State Tuesday in Logan.
7. Colorado State (10-9, 2-4)
So far: 8
Isaiah Stevens. Wow. What else can you say? A game-defining 3-pointer from near the half-court to send the game into overtime, topped by a game-winning 3-pointer in overtime.
He and Marcus Shaver have proven to be the two best players in the conference in recent weeks. Overall, CSU is still on the outside looking in, but Stevens is averaging 19.3 points and 6.7 assists at 58.7 percent true-shooting since the start of the MW game. As long as their defense is up passableif he keeps his game up, it wouldn’t be surprising if Colorado State upset a few more teams before the end of the regular season.
6. Utah State (14-4, 3-2)
So far: 6
Utah State was thrashed by Nevada after a late run just days after Wyoming was chopped by 20. The Aggies still have one of the best offenses in Mountain West and remain one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the nation, but shot 0-for -4 from long range — 2 for 12 overall — in the last nine minutes against the Wolf Pack. Her loss on Friday is her second Quad 1 loss of the season and still has only three Quad 2 wins in the season. It won’t face another Quad 1 opponent with San Diego State on Jan. 25, but has to go through UNLV and SJSU first this week – games they have to secure.
5. San Jose State (12-6, 3-2)
So far: 7
San Jose State’s only game last week ended in a 74-64 win over Fresno State. The Spartans were exceedingly efficient from the hardwood, knocking down 19 of their 28 2-pointers and going from long range 12 of 29; Alvaro Cardenas had the best game of his career, finishing with career-highs in points (20), 3-pointers (6), and assists (9). San Jose State has been grappling with teams they should be beating, but now another tough week lies ahead with New Mexico and Utah State awaiting outside of San Jose.
4.Nevada (15-4, 5-1)
So far: 1
Last week, I had the pack as the top team in the conference, ahead of San Diego State by a razor-thin margin. The proof was in the pudding — San Diego State dominated Nevada for 35 minutes before a late slip caused Nevada to take a one-time 22-point lead into single digits. It lost by nine but carried its late momentum into Friday – as the pack went 85-70 thanks to a late 19-0 run. Nevada’s trio of Kenan Blackshear (career-high 28 points), Will Baker (24 PTS, a career-high) and Jarod Lucas (21) outperformed the Aggies alone (73-70), which helps. They are now entering the third of their monstrous six-game streak with a rematch against Boise State, whom they defeated by two points in Reno in late December to open the MW game.
3. Boise State (14-4, 4-1)
So far: 4
Speaking of Boise State, they’ve beaten each of their last three enemies — Utah State, UNLV and Wyoming — by a total of 58 points. In place of Shaver’s injury, they get standout contributions from Tyson Degenhart, Max Rice, Chibuzo Agbo and Naje Smith, who are on their way to 18 points (two off their career high) in Boise’s 17th-point win over Wyoming on Saturday. His win over UNLV gave the Broncos six Quad 2 wins this season but has yet to claim a Quad 1 win. They have two chances this week – with Nevada and New Mexico.
2. San Diego State (13-4, 4-1)
After San Diego State’s dominant win over Nevada, it slipped at home against New Mexico. The Lobos ended SDSU’s 16-game home winning streak and MW regular-season 8-game winning streak with a 76-67 win; The Aztecs shot just 25 percent (6-24) from deep and 1 in 7 from the charity strip. They could be knocked out of the AP Top 25, but still arguably Mountain West’s best shot at a bid at large. Although they remain at #2 in this week’s leaderboard due to their loss.
1. New Mexico (16-2, 3-2)
So far: 1
New Mexico reclaims the top spot in this week’s rankings after two convincing victories over Oral Roberts and San Diego State. His win over San Diego State secured their second Quad 1 win of the season and their fourth Quad 1-2 win. It was a great reaction from Richard Pitino and co. after his unfortunate two-game losing streak against Fresno State and UNLV, and the Lobos will try to follow that with two home fights against San Jose State (quad 3) and Boise State (quad 1) this one week followed by Nevada (Quad 1) next Monday on the road.