5. Nevada (6-3; 59 points) ↓
The Wolf Pack take a bit of a tumble in this week’s rankings after losing to Air Force on Sunday, but Steve Alford still has Nevada as a top-half team in our staff’s eyes — for now. A good test of exactly where this team is will be when they take on New Mexico in two-game series on either side of New Year’s Day. Grant Sherfield and Desmond Cambridge form one of the top backcourts in the league, and Zane Meeks is coming along nicely, but it still feels like there’s something missing from the team.
4. Utah State (4-3; 81 points) ↑
The Aggies are inching closer and closer to where they thought they’d be when the season started. After a slow start to the season, which included a 24-point loss to South Dakota State, this team is starting to come together. The backcourt duo of Rollie Worster and Marco Anthony seems to be settling in, but it’s Neemias Queta and Justin Bean that will drive the bus for USU. On Monday, the Aggies scored a statement win against SJSU, beating the Spartans 107-62.
3. Wyoming (6-1; 84 points) ↔
After surviving yet another close game, this time against Nebraska-Omaha of the Summit League, the Cowboys improved to 6-1 in Jeff Linder’s first season in Laramie. The team is getting production from all over, including from veteran star Hunter Maldonado and freshman phenom Marcus Williams. It still remains to be seen if this team will be able to compete against stiffer competition in the MW, but make no mistake: this team is lightyears ahead of schedule in its rebuild under Linder.
2. Boise State (5-1; 100 points) ↔
The Broncos have established themselves as a clear top-two team in the league, and now the question is whether they have the will to compete with San Diego State for the league crown. Boise State hasn’t lost since laying an egg in their opener against Houston, but that loss looks better and better as the Cougars keep rising in the national polls. The Broncos obliterated UNM in their Mountain West opener on Monday, and if they can keep getting consistent production out of Derrick Alston, RayJ Dennis, Emmanuel Akot, and Abu Kigab, this team will be seriously dangerous. Oh, and former Arizona starter Devonaire Doutrive is set to join the fray any day now.
1. San Diego State (5-1; 110 points) ↔
OK, so a bit of the shine came off the Aztecs’ apple when they were beaten by BYU on Friday, but this is still the team to beat in the Mountain West. Jordan Schakel struggled through a poor performance for much of the game against BYU, and it highlights a need for other Aztecs to step up offensively when he can’t carry the load himself. Still, with Nathan Mensah playing well and all-leaguer Matt Mitchell in the fray, this is the league’s toughest team. They have another huge matchup tonight against Saint Mary’s, which could either vault them back into the Top 25, or could raise even more questions about how this team compares to last year’s.
Well, there you have it! Check back early next week for our updated MWW Power Rankings to see which teams are on the move!
Andrew Dieckhoff is a USBWA member writing about college basketball for Mountain West Wire of the USA TODAY Sports Media Group and The DPI Gradebook presented by Heat Check CBB. Andy is a returned Peace Corps Volunteer and a graduate of Portland State University. He currently resides in Portland, Oregon.