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 week during the conference season.
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1. No. 15 New Mexico (16-2 overall, 3-0 MW, 8 RPI): The only undefeated team in league play after two weeks, and the only team in the AP poll. The Lobos also have the conference’s longest winning streak at three, which says a lot about how tough all the teams are. Faces a big home game tonight against Colorado State where both teams are equally as good in the backcourt and frontcourt.
2. Colorado State (15-3, 2-1, 17 RPI): An overtime loss at San Diego State is the only conference loss. This is the most veteran team in the league, and perhaps the most physical. Senior and first-year center Colton Iverson and senior forward Pierce Hornung combine to average 19.1 rebounds per game, and the Rams are the conference’s best rebounding team. CSU needs a signature road win in league play, and tonight it gets a shot at New Mexico.
3. UNLV (15-4, 2-2, 20 RPI): A win at San Diego State last week was impressive, and even though the Rebels fell at Colorado State (which extended the Rams’ home-court winning streak to 24) a split there is respectable. UNLV hasn’t played its best basketball as of yet, however, it doesn’t have a bad loss (Oregon, North Carolina, New Mexico and CSU).
4. San Diego State (14-4, 2-2 32 RPI): An 0-2 week dropped the Aztecs from the top spot. The team will be better when junior point guard Xavier Thames returns from a bad back, and its 58-45 loss at Wyoming last Saturday may be the wake-up call the team needed to go on a winning streak. San Diego State poses a lot of match-up problems with its big guards.
5. Wyoming (15-2, 2-2 34 RPI): The Cowboys went through the lowest of lows with a 49-36 loss at Fresno State last Wednesday, and the highest of highs with its win over San Diego State at home when the Aztecs were ranked 15th. UW continues to lead the league in scoring defense (53.8 ppg), but the offense will need to find more ways to score as teams continue to focus on stopping forwards Leonard Washington and Larry Nance Jr.,and with senior guard and leading scorer Luke Martinez still out with a broken hand and his indefinite suspension from the team for his arrest on a charge of aggravated assault and battery last week.
6. Air Force (10-6, 2-2, 91 RPI): The Falcons move past Boise State this week based on its home win over the Broncos last Saturday where they scored 91 points, which is the highest among any team in a league game so far. Senior guard Michael Lyons leads the conference in scoring (18.9 ppg), and had 37 against Boise State — also a league-high in a conference game. Air Force is 0-2 on the road in league games and 2-4 overall.
7. Boise State (13-4, 1-2, 48 RPI): The Broncos have lost two straight after its 63-61 buzzer-beating win at Wyoming to open conference play on Jan. 9. The hero of that game, junior guard Jeff Elorriaga, didn’t play in the loss at Air Force with a concussion. The Broncos remain the league’s best 3-point shooting team (47.5 percent) and are never out of a game because of that. They also are not far from moving back up the rankings.
8. Nevada (10-7, 1-2, 160 RPI): The Wolf Pack picked up its first conference win over Fresno State last week. Nevada will go as far as the guard duo of Deonte Burton and Malik Story will take it. Both are in the top 10 in the league in scoring and combine to average 32.6 points per game. However, for Nevada to move up, other players must step up.
9. Fresno State (7-10, 1-3, 172 RPI): Holding Wyoming to 36 points in a home win last week showed that the Bulldogs are capable. Junior guard Tyler Johnson is a nice player, but others needs to emerge. Fresno State is full of newcomers so there will be plenty of ups and downs from here on out.