WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi ranks the nine Mountain West men’s basketball teams. Included are their records and Rating Percentage Index according to RealTimeRPI.com, and rankings are from The Associated Press poll. Look for these rankings every Tuesday during the conference season.
Let him know what you think about these first rankings heading into league play.
1. No. 15 San Diego State (14-2 overall, 2-0 MW, 29 RPI); The highest ranked team in the conference that won its first two league games despite guard Xavier Thames’ back troubles. The Aztecs won both of their games by a combined 10 points, but as stated last week, they remain the most complete team in the MW.
2. No. 19 New Mexico (15-2 overall, 2-0 MW, 12 RPI): The Lobos closed the gap on the Aztecs with home wins over UNLV and Fresno State last week. San Diego State may be the most complete team in the league right now, but New Mexico isn’t far behind. The Lobos are good both inside and outside, and center Alex Kirk has been very impressive.
3. UNLV (14-3 overall, 1-1 MW, 24 RPI): The Rebels lost at New Mexico to open the conference season and needed overtime at home to beat Air Force. They barely hang on to the No. 3 spot this week. The talent is there, but it doesn’t always show it on the court.
4. Boise State (13-2 overall, 1-0 MW, 28 RPI): Hard not to be impressed with the Broncos’ 63-61 buzzer-beating win at Wyoming last Wednesday without four players, including leading scorer Derrick Marks. A home game Wednesday with New Mexico will tell us a lot more about this team. However, coach Leon Rice has the team playing well and it could be a force in the conference race.
5. Colorado State (13-3 overall, 0-1 MW, 27 RPI): A seven-point overtime loss at San Diego State isn’t anything to be ashamed of for the Rams in their conference opener last Saturday. CSU has kind of flown under the radar much of the nonconference part of the season. Air Force and UNLV come to Moby Arena this week.
6. Wyoming (14-1 overall, 1-1 MW, 35 RPI): The Cowboys bounced back nicely after the Boise State loss with an 11-point win at Nevada. It looks like senior guard Luke Martinez will be out for a while after his recent arrest on an aggravated assault and battery charge, not to mention a broken bone in his right hand. UW is 2-1 without Martinez and showed great resilience during that stretch. It will need to continue for the foreseeable future.
7. Air Force (9-5 overall, 1-1 MW 141 RPI): Don’t assume playing the Falcons will be a win this season. Air Force played well last week in a home win against Nevada and the overtime loss at UNLV. This team can shoot the ball and is more athletic than past squads.
8. Nevada (9-7 overall, 0-2 MW, 177 RPI): The Wolf Pack’s first week in the MW was rough, but there are pieces there that make it dangerous. Junior guard Deonte Burton is a scorer, but Nevada needs others to pick up the slack — most notably senior wing Malik Story.
9. Fresno State (6-9 overall, 0-2 MW, 187 RPI): The Bulldogs’ welcome to the MW were games with San Diego State and New Mexico. Yikes! Fresno is big inside and can defend, and can be dangerous if teams allow it to hang around. If the Bulldogs can find some consistent offensive players, they will be competitive.
Follow Robert tonight on Twitter for updates from the Wyoming-Fresno State game at Save Mart Center in Fresno. Also join him for his weekly live chat on UW sports at 3 p.m. Thursday. Check back to the blog and www.wyosports.net for the link.