Week 8 DPI Rankings: CSU hangs around, UNLV falls behind
Off-court turmoil could cause a shake-up in the top half
Contact/Follow @andrewdieckhoff & @MWCwire
Happy Holidays from Mountain West Wire! Enjoy the yuletide with this week’s installment of the DPI rankings.
It seems almost impossible that it’s already the holiday season, but here we are. There have been nearly two months of hoops already and the non-conference season is just about over.
And while we think we may have clarity now, league play is a horse of a different color. Teams that are on cloud nine right now may come crashing back to earth. Others that have been struggling might finally shake the demons free from their backs.
But as we inch ever closer to the official onset of the Mountain West season, let’s take one last look at how all the teams stack up with just a few buy-games left on the league’s non-conference docket.
As always, for a full rundown of how the Dieckhoff Power Index, or DPI, is calculated, head over to my site. And bear in mind, non-Division I games do not count toward the DPI, so all those games against Life Pacific and Portland Bible go out the window. These ratings are current through December 23.
#1 — SAN DIEGO STATE
The Aztecs had nearly two weeks off between their nailbiter against San Jose State and their next game versus Utah. Clearly, they used this time to reflect and improve. SDSU ran the Utes out of the building just days after the former Mountain West squad beat Kentucky. The defense continues to be the star of the show, but this team can score, too.
#2 — UTAH STATE
The Aggies have been dancing on the knife’s edge over the past few weeks, but they’ve come out on the other side mostly unscathed. In their past four games, Utah State has won in overtime, won by four points, won by two points in overtime, and won by three points. But margins notwithstandings, wins over Florida and South Florida solidified their at-large case.
#3 — NEW MEXICO
Oh, no. Things were going a little too well for the Lobos, weren’t they? After an impressive start, New Mexico announced over the weekend that starters Carlton Bragg and JJ Caldwell would be suspended indefinitely. Paul Weir was able to corral the rest of the team together and they won again over lowly Houston Baptist, but adversity has descended upon Albuquerque.
#4 — NEVADA
The Wolf Pack are the prime candidate to take on third place in the league should the Lobos stumble during this tumultuous time. Their trio of is legitimately dangerous. They hung very tight with Saint Mary’s last week, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see them hang a big win over SDSU or Utah State this season. They’ve still got a lot of room to grow, though.
#5 — COLORADO STATE
You just can’t get rid of these Rams! Though they aren’t making many waves on the national scale, give them credit for sticking around the top half of the league for this long. Nico Carvacho is Nico Carvacho, and Isaiah Stevens has been a revelation in Niko Medved’s backcourt. Fellow freshman David Roddy started his first game in CSU’s 111-104 triple OT win over Tulsa.
#6 — BOISE STATE
Boise State has given a pretty good indication of where they are right now with their performance so far, both on the season as a whole and in the Diamond Head Classic. The Broncos lost to a wayward Georgia Tech club and then pummeled an up-and-down Portland team. They got a crummy Christmas gift, drawing a good UTEP team in their final game in Hawai’i.
#7 — FRESNO STATE
Because the DPI doesn’t count non-D1 games, the Bulldogs sit at just 3-8—yet they’ve managed to stay in seventh place, thanks to a slightly above-average defense. It was another heartbreaker for Justin Hutson on Monday, with Fresno State falling to San Francisco by just two points. That’s the sixth time the Bulldogs have either lost by one possession or lost in overtime.
#8 — AIR FORCE
The Falcons continue to struggle during this disappointing year, following up a narrow win over Denver with a loss to Drake. The offense has been good, but they haven’t been able to stop opponents from scoring. They rank near the bottom of the nation both in their ability to make teams miss and in their proclivity toward forcing turnovers.
#9 — UNLV
A rocky start to the season got worse at the start of the month with the news that grad transfer Elijah Mitrou-Long would miss six to eight weeks with a thumb injury. The Rebels are 1-2 without him, with losses to BYU and Pacific buoyed only by a forgettable triumph over Robert Morris. Fans may already be counting down the days until David Jenkins debuts in Vegas.
#10 — WYOMING
More of the same from the Cowboys, as Hunter Maldonado continues to pile up mounds of individual statistics while the team flounders. They did snap a six-game skid, though. To be clear, that’s not a knock on Maldonado. He has developed into a fine player; there’s just not enough talent throughout the roster. But their defensive metrics indicate that they’re putting forth the effort.
#11 — SAN JOSÉ STATE
Yeesh. The Spartans’ skid has extended to eight games after San Jose State fell to Santa Clara and UC Riverside last week. The shots just aren’t falling and they don’t take care of the ball. Seneca Knight is having a good year, but once again, the Spartans have separated themselves as the clear-cut lowest ranked team in the Mountain West.
That’s it for this week. Here’s wishing you all a safe and happy holiday from Mountain West Wire and the DPI.
But buckle up. Conference play starts next week.
Andrew is a current USBWA member, covering college basketball for multiple outlets, including Mountain West Wire of the USA TODAY Sports Media Group and Busting Brackets of the FanSided Network. He also runs the Dieckhoff Power Index, a college basketball analytics system, and provides bracketology predictions throughout the season.