I thought I would wait until the start of conference play to do my first Mountain West men’s basketball power rankings of the season.
Who is good and who is not may be more uncertain now than at the start of the season. But you have to start somewhere, so here we go.
RPI rankings are from RealTimeRPI.com. As always, your feedback is welcome.
1. Boise State (8-4, 69 RPI): There was a head-scratching loss at Montana to start the season, but the only other losses for the Broncos have been to Arizona twice and now No. 1 Michigan State. A good mix of inside and outside production, and the team to beat as league play begins.
2. UNLV (9-4, 71 RPI): I’m a little hesitant to put the Runnin’ Rebels up this high, but they’ve not had any bad losses. However, UNLV let a double-digit second half lead at home to Arizona State slip away in a 10-point loss. As is the case most years, UNLV has the most talent in the MW, but can coach Dave Rice put it all together through the rigors of league play?
3. Utah State (8-3, 132 RPI): The Aggies have responded well after losing one of its best players — sophomore forward David Collette — who quit just prior to the season-opener. Utah State has not beaten anyone great, but has taken care of business against teams it should. This is a veteran team, which should help in the MW.
4. Fresno State (8-4, 129 RPI): A loss at Cal Poly was a surprise, but this is a big, physical and athletic team with enough talent to win the conference. Will see what the Bulldogs are made of this week as they play at UNLV and host New Mexico.
5. San Diego State (7-6, 100 RPI): The preseason MW favorite played some good teams in the nonconference, but losses to San Diego and Arkansas-Little Rock (which is a good team) was unexpected. As usual, the Aztecs can defend but can’t score. I don’t expect San Diego State to stay at this spot for long, but to this point it is one of the more disappointing teams.
6. Air Force (8-4, 107 RPI): Has quietly gotten off to a solid start. There haven’t been any mind-blowing wins, but like most Air Force squads they won’t be an easy team to beat.
7. New Mexico (7-6, 126 RPI): The Lobos may have been the best team in the MW two weeks ago. But since then they lost four straight, including three in a row at the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii. Cullen Neal and Elijah Brown make a dangerous 1-2 backcourt combination, but more help is needed, especially late in gams.
8. Nevada (8-4, 159 RPI): First-year coach Eric Musselman has the Wolf Pack scoring around 80 points per game, compared to 60 last season. All of Nevada’s losses have come on the road, and it opens league play Wednesday at New Mexico.
9. Wyoming (7-6, 197 RPI): Senior guard Josh Adams is making a strong case for player of the year honors in the MW at nearly 27 points per game. But more consistent scorers, better rebounding and improved defense are needed.
10. Colorado State (7-5, 187 RPI): There is too much talent on the roster for the Rams to be this low, but they went through a stretch of five straight losses to Division I foes earlier this season. Senior guard and leading scorer Gian Clavell (broken hand) is out for the season. This team will either make a giant rise up the rankings or stay near the bottom.
11. San Jose State (5-7, 344 RPI): The Spartans are better, and will beat some teams in the MW. But the rebuilding there for coach Dave Wojcik is still a work in progress.
This weeks games. Predicted winners in bold.
Nevada at New Mexico, 7 p.m. MT (ROOT)
Wyoming at San Diego State, 8 p.m. MT (CBS Sports Network)
Fresno State at UNLV, 8 p.m. MT (ESPN3 — online)
Utah State at San Jose State, 8 p.m. MT (MW Network — online)
San Jose State at Air Force, Noon MT (MW Network — online)
Wyoming at Nevada, 4 p.m. MT (ROOT)
Colorado State at Boise State, 5 p.m. MT (ESPN3 — online)
New Mexico at Fresno State, 7:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
San Diego State at Utah State, 8 p.m. MT (ESPNU)