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.
Let him know what you think about these rankings — good or bad.
1. New Mexico (19-3 overall, 6-1 MW, 5 RPI): Best overall and conference record, and the highest RPI. Tough to go against those three factors. The only team in the conference with a winning road conference record (2-1), and is 5-2 on the road overall. Best team in the league, without a doubt, right now, even though it doesn’t have any eye-popping statistics.
2. Colorado State (18-4 overall, 5-2 MW, 15 RPI): A 26-game home winning streak, a starting lineup with five seniors and the best rebounding team in the conference — and one of the best in the country. As stated in previous weeks, the Rams need a big conference road win. It plays at Nevada tonight — a game it should win.
3. Air Force (14-6 overall, 5-2 MW, 69 RPI): The hottest team in the conference with a five-game winning streak. Like CSU, Air Force is a veteran group playing with a lot of confidence. One of three teams in the MW that is 4-0 at home in league play. The Falcons play at New Mexico tonight for a crack at first place in the standings. I have said that senior guard Michael Lyons (18.1 ppg) may be the most underrated players in the league. Simply put, he is one of the best players in the league.
4. San Diego State (16-5 overall, 4-3 MW, 29 RPI): The Aztecs need to get healthy with junior point guard Xavier Thames (back) and senior guard Chase Tapley (wrist) nursing injuries. A versatile team that handed New Mexico its only conference loss this season. The Aztecs also are one of two teams (New Mexico) that has won twice on the road in league play.
5. UNLV (17-5 overall, 4-3 MW, 17 RPI): Hard to believe if the conference season ended after last weekend’s games, San Diego State and UNLV would be in the 4-5 game at the MW Tournament. This is still one of the most talented and athletic teams in the conference, and true freshman forward Anthony Bennett leads the conference in scoring (18.5 ppg), is second in field-goal percentage (55 percent) and fifth in rebounding (8.5 rpg). The Rebels haven’t played their best basketball yet, which is scary for the rest of the league.
6. Boise State (15-6 overall, 3-4 MW, 51 RPI): Watch out for the Broncos now that junior guard Jeff Elorriaga is back from concussion issues and the team seems to have battled through a stretch of player suspensions going back to the start of league play. Elorriaga is the glue that holds that team together, and sparked a home win over UNLV last week.
7. Wyoming (15-6 overall, 2-6 MW, 62 RPI): The Cowboys are in free-fall mode right now having lost four straight (tied with Fresno State for the longest losing skid in the conference) and six of its last eight. Seeing now how the loss of senior guard Luke Martinez (arrest and suspension) has hurt this team in league play. The defense continues to be good, but this group is very limited offensively.
8. Nevada (11-10 overall, 2-5 MW, 131 RPI): The Wolf Pack has stretches in every game where it plays pretty well. It just can’t sustain it long enough to have much success in terms of wins. If Nevada has two home games this week with Colorado State and Air Force. If there is a good time to make a move up the standings, it is now.
9. Fresno State (7-13 overall, 1-6 MW, 175 RPI): The offensive woes continue for the Bulldogs as they are last in the conference in scoring (60.2 ppg) and field-goal percentage (39.8 percent). The defense is formidable, but not nearly good enough to make up for the lack of offense.