One week into conference play, and the Mountain West is just as baffling as the nonconference portion of the schedule was.
A decent amount of movement this week, and I would expect more in the coming weeks. But here is how I think the MW ranks this week.
RPI rankings are from RealTimeRPI.com. Nothing really stands out as far as the RPI goes, but it does indicate that from top to bottom, the MW is a solid league. Its RPI of 11 out of 32 conferences isn’t all that great, and it looks like the MW could be a one-bid league to the NCAA Tournament as of now.
Call it mediocre or poor, but this league isn’t as bad as many national people think.
I still think the league will get at least two teams to the NCAAs, and possibly three if all works out well.
As always, your feedback is welcome.
1. Boise State (10-4 overall, 1-0 MW, 70 RPI): The Broncos have the longest winning streak in the league at seven, and may have the Player of the Year in the MW in junior forward James Webb III. A tricky game awaits at Utah State Tuesday.
2. San Diego State (9-6, 2-0, 81 RPI): The Aztecs played like the Aztecs last week in a home win over Wyoming and an impressive road win at Utah State last week. The offense is still an issue, but the defense is not.
3. New Mexico (9-6, 2-0, 118 RPI): The memories of a four-game losing streak were quickly erased with wins over Nevada and at Fresno State last week by a combined 27 points. The Lobos will be a factor in the MW race.
4. Fresno State (10-5, 1-1, 119 RPI): Opened league play with a bang in a 69-66 win at UNLV, but then was dominated at home by New Mexico 77-62. I still think the Bulldogs have what it takes to win this league. Not saying they will, but the pieces are there.
5. Air Force: (10-4, 1-0, 128 RPI): This is not a misprint. The Falcons have quietly put together a strong start to the season. A home win over San Jose State to start league play was expected, but the Falcons are formidable and will win its share of games.
6. UNLV: (9-5, 0-1, 100 RPI): The mystery of the Runnin’ Rebels continues. The home loss to Fresno State last week was a surprise, but what isn’t a surprise is the up-and-down play from this squad in recent years. A two-game swing to Colorado State and Wyoming is big for UNLV this week, which has a boat-load of talent.
7. Nevada: (9-5, 1-1, 136 RPI): What a difference a new coach makes. Eric Musselman has the Wolf Pack playing faster and smarter, and also 6-0 at home. Some talented players are sitting out this year, so teams better get the Wolf Pack now.
8. Utah State: (9-4, 1-1, 156 RPI): There’s no shame in losing to San Diego State at home, but it is rare for the Aggies to lose on their home floor. This veteran team will bounce back, but this is a big week as it hosts Boise State Tuesday and plays at New Mexico Saturday.
9. Colorado State: (8-6, 0-1, 186 RPI): The Rams fell behind by a lot early at Boise State, but came back and made it a four-point game. I have a hard time believing CSU will be this far down in the rankings all season, but if the losses continue to mount, the confidence will of this team will decrease.
10. Wyoming: (7-8, 0-2, 197 RPI): The losing streak is now four, but coach Larry Shyatt remains confident and optimistic about this young (Shyatt uses the team ‘new’) team. Senior guard Josh Adams will keep the Cowboys in a lot of games. Others needs to be more consistent around him.
11. San Jose State: (5-9, 0-2, 335 RPI): The record and RPI does not show it, but trust me, the Spartans are better than the last couple of years. This is a bigger, more athletic team that will beat a team or two it shouldn’t.
This week’s picks (predicted winners in bold)
Boise State at Utah State, 8 p.m. MT (CBS Sports Network)
Air Force at Wyoming, 7 p.m. MT (MW Network — online)
Nevada at Fresno State, 8 p.m. MT (MW Network — online)
San Jose State at San Diego State, 8 p.m. MT (ESPN3)
UNLV at Colorado State, 8 p.m. MT (CBS Sports Network)
Nevada at Air Force, Noon MT (MW Network — online)
Colorado State at San Jose State, 3 p.m. MT (MW Network — online)
Fresno State at Boise State, 4 p.m. MT (ROOT)
UNLV at Wyoming, 4 p.m. MT (CBS Sports Network)
Utah State at New Mexico, 4 pm. MT (ESPN3)
Last week’s record: 7-2