MW men’s basketball power rankings entering third week of conference play

Here are my weekly power rankings for Mountain West men’s basketball teams. Look for these rankings on a weekly basis throughout the conference season. RPI numbers are from as of Jan. 7.

1. Nevada (15-3 overall, 4-0 MW, 16 RPI): The lone undefeated team in conference play, and also the team with the longest winning streak in the conference at four. Not the deepest team in the MW, but probably the most talented. It will take a heck of an effort from any team in the league to beat the Wolf Pack. Game this week: vs. Utah State, 6 p.m. Saturday (ESPN3 — online).

2. Boise State (13-3, 3-1, 45 RPI): Yeah, the Broncos lost in overtime at Wyoming last Saturday, but they stay No. 2 in these rankings because — to me — they are the most complete team in the conference with the best player in senior guard Chandler Hutchison. But Boise State has a big week ahead of it to stay in this spot, or possibly surpass Nevada. Games this week: at Fresno State, 9 p.m. Tuesday (ESPNU); vs. San Diego State, 8 p.m. Saturday (ESPN2).

3. Wyoming (11-5, 2-1, 50 RPI): The Cowboys’ first three games in league play were against San Diego State, Nevada and Boise State, and they went 2-1 with both wins at home. Any team would take that. Wyoming must become more consistent across the board, and a leg injury to junior guard Justin James late in last Saturday’s game with Boise State is a concern. The Cowboys also are last in the MW in scoring defense (76.1 ppg). That has to change. Games this week: at New Mexico, 7 p.m. Wednesday (Stadium/Facebook Live); vs. Colorado State, 2 p.m. Saturday (CBS Sports Network)

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MW men’s basketball power rankings as league play begins

It is time for conference play for Mountain West men’s basketball team, and also the debut of my weekly power rankings. Look for these rankings on a weekly basis throughout the conference season. RPI numbers are from as of Dec. 26.

1. Nevada (11-3, 23 RPI): A head-scratching loss at San Francisco to end its nonconference season, but the preseason league favorite and defending regular-season and conference tournament champion earns the top spot. The Wolf Pack will be tested in its MW opener at Fresno State Wednesday. Games this week: at Fresno State, 8 p.m. Wednesday (ESPN3); vs. New Mexico, 3 p.m. Saturday (AT&T SportsNet).

2. Boise State (10-2, 29 RPI): The Broncos got smoked at SMU in its final nonconference game, but also racked up some nice wins. Senior Chandler Hutchison is playing like the preseason MW Player of the Year, and the supporting cast around him also has played well. Perhaps the most important statistic is Boise State leads the league in scoring defense at 64.5 points per game. Games this week: vs. Colorado State, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday (CBS SportsNetwork); at UNLV, 9 p.m. Saturday (AT&T SportsNet).

3. San Diego State (8-3, 55 RPI): A two-point win at home over then No. 12 Gonzaga Dec. 21 was by far the conference’s best nonconference win. When this team is healthy, it may be the best team in the league. In coach Brian Dutcher’s first season, the Aztecs remain one of the better defensive teams in the country, but are pushing the tempo more offensively and average 78.3 points per game. Games this week: at Wyoming, 7 p.m. Wednesday (ESPN3); vs. Utah State, 8 p.m. Saturday (ESPN3).

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