Check Out The Week 2 Mountain West Basketball Report Cards
See which teams have the best grades in the second report card roundup of the 2017-18 season
Mountain West Basketball Report Cards
It was an eventful week for the Mountain West. Week 2 report cards are below.
Air Force Falcons
Results: vs. Arkansas Pine Bluff (W, 57-47), vs. Pacific (L, 83-71), at Colorado (L, 81-69)
Air Force had just enough left in the tank to top Arkansas Pine Bluff, a squad that’s ranked 348th in KenPom before losing to Pacific and Colorado by 12 points apiece. The Falcons played well against undefeated Colorado for the majority of the game, trailing 34-33 at the half and were within seven with under five minutes to play. That type of fight in a power conference road environment is impressive, but wasn’t enough to break AFA’s lengthy losing streak to power conference opponents.
Boise State Broncos
Results: vs. Loyola Marymount (W, 68-48)
Just one game this week for Boise State after competing in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off At Myrtle Beach last weekend. The Broncos used a late run in what was an unexpectedly competitive game against Loyola Marymount to move to 5-1 on the young season. Chandler Hutchison (head) sat out and Boise State was just fine regardless. BSU will hope he’s back this week as the Broncos take on two top 100 opponents in Loyola Chicago and Oregon.
Colorado State Rams
Results: at New Mexico State (L, 89-76), vs. Northwestern State (W, 72-60)
There are still a lot of things that need to be improved before conference play for Colorado State. The Rams continue to eek out victories against some of the nation’s weaker teams (Sacramento State, Winthrop, Northwestern State), and come out flat against its stronger opponents (Tulane, Florida State, New Mexico State). CSU’s next four games are all against top 125 KenPom opponents, three of which are true road matchups. Colorado State needs to step up and play better than it did in Jamaica if it wants to avoid losing all four of those games.
Fresno State Bulldogs
Results: *vs. Evansville (L, 59-57), *vs. George Mason (W, 79-73), vs. Montana State (W, 80-67)
Fresno’s 57-point losing effort to Evansville was a surprise, but the Bulldogs followed it up with decent victories over George Mason and Montana State. Deshon Taylor is looking like the first player that was underestimated from the Mountain West Wire Top 25 Countdown, as he’s currently averaging 1.19 points per possession on 27.9% usage. His 17.6 points per game is good for sixth in the league this season.
New Mexico Lobos
Results: vs. Tennessee Tech (L, 104-96), *vs. TCU (L, 69-67), *vs. Maryland (L, 80-65)
You can’t expect a young New Mexico squad to beat TCU or Maryland in a neutral environment, but losing at home to Tennessee Tech is inexcusable. More importantly, though, is New Mexico’s style of play against quality opponents. Tempo is key to Paul Weir’s offensive attack, and against Northern New Mexico, Omaha and Tennessee Tech, the Lobos averaged 90.7 possessions. In three games against potential tournament teams in New Mexico State, TCU and Maryland, UNM averaged just 69.7 possessions. It’s obvious that New Mexico is struggling to control the pace in its more important matchups.
Nevada Wolf Pack
Results: vs. Davidson (W, 81-68), at Hawaii (W, 67-54)
It wasn’t the best two performances of the season, but it’s another undefeated week for the league leaders. Nevada held off a top 100 KenPom opponent in Davidson at home on Tuesday, leading almost the entirety of the game. The Wolf Pack then went to the islands to battle Hawaii in a trap game. Again, Nevada led almost the entire 40 minutes as the Martin twins again combined for over 30 points and 15 rebounds. Nevada can reasonably expect to be ranked in the AP poll on Monday after its convincing 6-0 start.
San Diego State Aztecs
Results: vs. Eastern Illinois (W, 94-63), *vs. Sacramento State (W, 89-52), *vs. Georgia (W, 75-68), *vs. Washington State (L, 93-86)
Another week full of promise ended on a sour note for San Diego State. The Aztecs had hopes of beating Sacramento State in the Wooden Legacy opener (which it did by a wide open) before facing two quality opponents in Georgia and Saint Mary’s. SDSU was able to top Georgia but after Saint Mary’s was upset by Washington State in the semifinals, San Diego State’s hopes of a quality victory opportunity were dashed. In the end, WSU showed more effort down the stretch, digging out of a 73-64 deficit (4.3% win probability) before topping SDSU 93-86 in the Wooden Legacy title game. Assuming a loss to Gonzaga, San Diego State will finish the non-conference schedule with one top 100 KenPom victory in Georgia, a team that will likely miss the NCAA Tournament.
San Jose State Spartans
Results: vs. Idaho State (W, 62-54)
Not much to see here from San Jose State this week. The Spartans picked up a victory against Idaho State (#321 in KenPom) at home to end a three-game losing streak. One bright spot so far this season for SJSU is its effort on the boards. The Spartans are in the top 100 in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage, a facet of the game that new head coach Jean Prioleau heavily stressed in the offseason.
UNLV Runnin’ Rebels
Results: vs. Rice* (W, 95-68), vs. Utah* (W, 85-58), vs. Southern Utah (W, 101-82)
UNLV might be the best-looking Mountain West team right now. The Rebels have leveled almost every opponent it has faced, and even in tight matchups like Southern Utah and Eastern Washington, UNLV showed poised down the stretch and was able to outscore its opponents by a wide margin in the final minutes. Even so, UNLV has played five of six games against teams ranked 200th or worse in KenPom and has yet to leave the Strip. UNLV has a difficult matchup on Wednesday with a Northern Iowa squad that already has victories over SMU and North Carolina State and modest efforts against North Carolina and Villanova. Then, on Saturday, the Rebels host Arizona. We’ll know a lot more about this squad by this time next week.
Utah State Aggies
Results: *vs. Portland State (L, 83-79), *vs. Northeastern (W, 71-67), *vs. New Hampshire (W, 77-63)
The Portland State loss was a bit of a head-scratcher at the time, but that was before the Vikings played their hearts out at the PK80 and nearly upset both Duke and Butler before topping Stanford on Sunday. Utah State is only 4-3 on the season, but could be 6-1 if things went differently down the stretch against Weber State and Portland State. Koby McEwen (ankle) returned to the USU lineup in Friday’s game but missed the Saturday matchup with New Hampshire.
Results: *vs. South Dakota State (W, 77-65), *vs. Louisiana Lafayette (W, 70-61), *vs. Cincinnati (L, 78-53), vs. New Mexico Highlands (W, 83-70)
Wyoming has been one of the more pleasant surprises in the league this season. The Cowboys are 5-1 with their only loss coming in the Cayman Islands Classic title game. It was Wyoming’s third game in three games and the Pokes were playing without star wing Justin James. Otherwise, Allen Edwards’ team has looked pretty solid. Wyoming isn’t blowing teams out, but it is finding ways to win down the stretch. A road matchup on December 6 against South Carolina could tell us a lot about where this squad stands prior to conference play.