A little late in doing this as we are two weeks into the conference season, but I wanted to see a few conference games to start my weekly power rankings. But based on what’s happened, the picture isn’t much clearer.
Anyway, here is this week’s rankings along with this week’s list of games. As always, your feedback is welcome and encouraged.
1. No. 25 Wyoming (15-2 overall, 4-0 MW): The only ranked team in the MW, the only team unbeaten in conference play and with the longest winning streak (seven). The Cowboys are far from perfect, but with the nation’s third-best scoring defense (52.2 ppg) and the league’s best player in senior forward Larry Nance Jr., UW sits atop the perch for now.
2. San Diego State (12-4, 2-1): Like Wyoming, the Aztecs are among the nation’s best defensive teams. The loss of senior wing Dwayne Polee II to an illness has had an impact, but there is no other team as long, athletic and versatile in the MW. This team may have trouble making shots, but as long as the defense remains solid, the Aztecs will be tough to beat.
3. New Mexico (11-5, 3-1): A little surprised to see the Lobos this high after losing guard Cullen Neal to a season-ending ankle injury, and dealing with a lot of other injuries. But the Lobos are grinding away and will be a factor in the conference race.
4. Fresno State (8-9, 3-1): Don’t let the overall record fool you, the Bulldogs are playing some good basketball, and own a 59-57 home win over San Diego State. They could get even better if point guard Cezar Guerrero comes back from his academic eligibility issues. Guard Marvelle Harris, the reigning MW Player of the Week, leads the conference in scoring at just over 18 points per game.
5. Colorado State (15-2, 2-2): The Rams have come down to earth somewhat after a 14-0 start. But this team is still very good and can win a lot of different ways. Point guard John Gillon is one of the quickest and toughest guys to defend in the league.
6. Nevada (6-9, 2-1): One of five MW teams with a winning record in league play right now. May have been higher had it not lost at home to Fresno State last week. This team is deeper and much better defensively than past squads.
7. UNLV (10-6, 1-2): By far the team with the most talent in the conference, and I don’t expect it to be in the lower half of the standings — or these power rankings — for long. Still, the team’s only conference win is over San Jose State.
8. Utah State (9-7, 2-2): Playing much better than anticipated with little returning experience. Yet, take away a buzzer-beat to win at home against Boise State and the Aggies have just one conference win. Don’t know how many more wins this team gets, but it won’t be an easy team to beat.
9. Boise State (10-6, 0-3): Hard to believe the Broncos are this low right now. I picked them to finish second in the league. The loss of senior guard Anthony Drmic hurts, but there is plenty of talent on the roster to be a factor in the league race. Games this week with UNLV and New Mexico are daunting.
10. Air Force (8-7, 1-3): Injuries have hurt (no pun intended) the Falcons, as have slow starts in games. There are a lot of seniors on the roster who should help settle things down.
11. San Jose State (2-14, 0-4): Hard to think the Spartans will move up from here the rest of the season. They are down to eight healthy players for the rest of the season due to injuries and suspensions. Second-year coach Dave Wojcik is trying to build things the right way, and he may be rewarded for that some day — just not now.
This week’s games (predicted winners in bold)
UNLV at Boise State, 9 p.m. MT (ESPNU)
Air Force at New Mexico, 7 p.m. MT (ROOT)
Nevada at Colorado State, 7 p.m. MT (MW Digital Network)
Fresno State at San Jose State, 8 p.m. MT (MW Digital Network)
San Diego State at No. 25 Wyoming, 9 p.m. MT (ESPN2)
UNLV at San Diego State, 4 p.m. MT (CBS Sports Network)
Air Force at Utah State, 4 p.m. MT (ROOT)
No. 25 Wyoming at Fresno State, 5 p.m. MT (ESPN3)
Colorado State at San Jose State, 8 p.m. MT (MW Digital Network)
Boise State at New Mexico, 4 p.m. (CBS Sports Network
For more UW and Mountain West sports coverage, see Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.