WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi offers his first Mountain West men’s basketball power rankings of the 2013-14 season. Look for these rankings once a week through the end of the regular season. As always, your feedback is encouraged.
1. No. 10 San Diego State (14-1 overall, 3-0 MW): The hottest team in the league with a 13-game winning streak. The Aztecs also own the best nonconference win for the MW with a win at Kansas. This was supposed to be a transition year. A healthy Xavier Thames at guard makes a big difference.
2. New Mexico (12-3, 3-0): One of three teams (San Diego State, Nevada) with two road conference victories. Winners of five straight. Has the best frontline duo in the league in Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow. The bench isn’t the deepest, but the Lobos are still very good.
3, Nevada (9-8, 4-0): The biggest surprise in the league so far. Can the Wolf Pack keep this up? Time will tell, but the frontcourt is much better and senior guard Deonte Burton (21.8 ppg) is making his case as a player of the year candidate in the league. A home game tonight against Boise State will be another big test. The Wolf Pack is 4-4 at home but 5-2 on the road.
4. Utah State (11-4, 1-2): The Aggies need to learn how to win on the road as they are 0-2 in league play and 2-2 overall. The pieces are there to make a run at a league title, but more consistency is needed.
5. Boise State (11-5, 1-2): A home loss to Wyoming hurt and surprised many around the league. But like Utah State, this is a veteran team that will be fine. A win at Nevada tonight would be huge.
6. Wyoming (10-6, 1-2): All but one of the Cowboys’ losses have been by single digits, and four have been by five points or less. UW is the best shooting team in the MW 48.7 percent), but has made and attempted the fewest shots. UW also is second in scoring defense (60.9 ppg). Those factors will keep the Pokes in a lot of games.
7. Colorado State (11-6, 2-2): Coach Larry Eustachy has done a good job with virtually a brand new team. The Rams can score (77.5 ppg) and turn teams over (+3.1 turnover margin).
8. Air Force (8-7, 2-2): Wins over Utah State and UNLV have opened some eyes around the league. The Falcons will be a tough out in any game, and are better offensively than many thing.
9. UNLV (10-6, 1-2): The biggest mystery in the conference. The roster is full of talent, but the Rebels have been up and down more than the stock market. Don’t expect the Rebels to be this low for long, but for now this is one of the biggest head-scratchers.
10. Fresno State (8-9, 1-3): Rebounding seems to be this team’s weakness. It is last in rebounding margin at minus-3.8 per game, and last in defensive rebounding percentage (67.9 percent). The Bulldogs also are second-to-last in scoring defense (72.5 ppg).
11. San Jose State (6-10, 0-4): The only winless team in conference play, but nearly upset New Mexico at home last Saturday. This team is young and growing, and it will win some games it shouldn’t before the season is done.
Games this week (team bolded are ones I think will win)
Boise State at Nevada, 8 p.m.
San Jose State at Air Force, 7 p.m.
Colorado State at Utah State, 7 p.m.
UNLV at New Mexico, 7:15 p.m.
Fresno State at San Diego State, 8 p.m.
San Jose State at Wyoming, 2 p.m.
UNLV at San Diego State, 4 p.m.
Air Force at Colorado State, 4 p.m.
New Mexico at Fresno State, 5 p.m.
Utah State at Boise State, 7 p.m.