MW men’s basketball power rankings entering the 4th week of conference play

Here are my weekly power rankings for Mountain West men’s basketball teams heading into this week’s games. Look for these rankings on a weekly basis throughout the conference season. RPI numbers are from NCAA.com as of Jan. 15.

  1. Nevada (16-3 overall, 5-0 MW, 16 RPI): Still the only undefeated team in conference play, and also the team with the longest winning streak in the conference at five. Depth remains an issue with this team, but so far it has made it work with its main players logging a lot of minutes. There will be a big test for the Wolf Pack this week. Games this week: at San Jose State, 8:30 p.m. Wednesday (ESPNU); vs. Boise State, 8 p.m. Saturday (ESPN2).

2. Boise State (15-3, 5-1, 29 RPI): The Broncos bounced back well after their loss at Wyoming Jan. 6 with a road win at Fresno State and a home win over San Diego State in front of a sellout crowd. Senior guard Chandler Hutchison scored 44 points in the win over San Diego State and leads the conference in scoring at 19.8 points per game. The supporting cast around Hutchison is good, but also needs to be more consistent. Games this week: vs. Utah State, 7 p.m. Wednesday (Stadium/Facebook Live); at Nevada, 8 p.m. Saturday (ESPN2).

3. San Diego State (11-5, 3-2, 64 RPI): No shame in a close loss at Boise State last week. Like many MW teams, consistency is an issue night in and night out. The defense is the best in the MW in terms of points allowed per game, but veteran guys need to be better on offense. Games this week: vs. Fresno State, 9 p.m. Wednesday (ESPNU); at New Mexico, 5 p.m. Saturday (CBS Sports Network).

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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 NCAA.com 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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Cowboys must avoid outside distractions at San Jose State

A small arena where very few fans attend the games.

That sums up San Jose State’s home-court advantage in a nutshell, and what Wyoming faces when it plays there at 8 p.m. MT Wednesday.

Allen Edwards

Allen Edwards

For a minute, let’s take away what the Cowboys will face player-wise in this game. The Spartans’ home arena — The Event Center — is the smallest in the Mountain West at 5,000. Rarely is it half full. It resembles more of a high school gym than one for college basketball.

A couple of years ago when I covered a UW game there, the students were not back in school and the facilities crew didn’t have the heat turned on. It was down-right cold in there.

It’s not like playing in MW arenas like the Pit at New Mexico or Viejas Arena at San Diego State in terms of loud and abundant fans, but it presents a different challenge for many teams.

First-year UW coach Allen Edwards has seen that first-hand as an assistant for the Cowboys the previous five seasons. Wednesday’s game will be his first there as a head coach, and already knows one thing he has to be leery of.

“It’s a quiet gym, and it’s one of those games where you can’t get on (officials) becuase everyone hears you, and the (officials) take it personal when they feel like everyone hears you,” Edwards said.

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UW at San Jose State men’s hoops Q&A

Here is my question-and-answer session with Kevin McCarthy, who runs the Spartan Roundball blog that covers San Jose State men’s basketball, about Wednesday’s game with the University of Wyoming.

Tip off is at 8 p.m. MT Wednesday at The Event Center in San Jose, California.

Kevin McCarthy

Kevin McCarthy

The records might not indicate it at 5-11 overall and 0-4 in the Mountain West, but San Jose State does seem like an improved team. Would you agree with that, and in what areas are they better?

San Jose State is playing Mountain West Conference opponents much closer thus far this season and, with a few differences in foul shooting and last-minute finishes, could possibly be 2-2 or 3-1. As compared to last year, having a full roster in 2015-16 has been a godsend. There is much more depth, the offense isn’t as heavily dependent on three-point attempts and there are a couple of players who can be effective inside the paint.

One thing that stands out with San Jose State is that it is a bigger team overall. How has that size benefitted or even hurt this team this season?

Last year, the Spartans had no inside game and were easy to plan for defensively. Points in the paint remains a game in-game-out work-in-progress, but the top three scorers are 6-foot-9 Frank Rogers, 6-foot-7 Princeton Onwas and 6-foot-9 Ryan Welage. Rogers was suspended last season, Onwas sat out as a redshirt transfer from Utah and Welage is a true freshman. Without this newish size, San Jose State would consistently not be playing any close games in the Mountain West.

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