Boise State looking shaky, leaving opening atop the MW
Who replaces Boise State as the new No. 1?
Here are this week’s Mountain West Wire basketball power rankings, as voted on by our staff of basketball writers. (NOTE: Due to a few excused absences, our staff vote total this week is slightly lower than normal.)
11. New Mexico (5-11, 1-11 MW; 6 points) ↔
The Lobos haven’t moved since last week — and that may indeed become the theme of their season. After a disastrous start in the midst of a logistically-ridiculous season, the team considered whether or not to even continue playing this year. Honestly, I can’t really blame them too much; however, it did throw an unexpected wrench into the MW title race. Now, it sounds like they’ll finish out the year playing in the state of Colorado, per Geoff Grammer.
Next Up: at Colorado State (Tue/Thu)
10. Air Force (4-14, 2-12 MW; 12 points) ↔
When this is all said and done, Joe Scott may consider sending a fruit basket or something over to Paul Weir and the Lobos. The trainwreck of New Mexico’s season has provided some cover for just how bad this Air Force team has played over the past month. The Falcons have dropped seven straight games in a stretch that only included one series against a top-five team in the conference (SDSU).
Next Up: vs. Fresno State (Thu/Sat)
9. San Jose State (5-12, 3-10 MW; 18 points) ↔
The Spartans were off last week, and with UNM also not playing and Air Force not doing itself any favors, there was really no chance that SJSU would be moving from this spot. The question now becomes whether they can actually move even higher up the list! They may have run out of runway to make that happen, though.
Next Up: vs. San Diego State (Wed); Nevada (Sat/Mon)
8. Fresno State (7-7, 5-7 MW; 29 points) ↔
The Bulldogs only ended up playing one contest last week against Utah State, with the second game in their series being cancelled due to concerns over COVID-19. That may have save Justin Hutson and his team from some more embarrassment, as they were coming off a 16-point loss to the Aggies earlier in the week.
Next Up: at Air Force (Thu/Sat)
7. Wyoming (10-9, 4-8 MW; 30 points) ↔
Clearly mired in their toughest stretch of the season, Wyoming’s true colors are starting to shine through — which may not be the best thing for Jeff Linder’s squad. There is a lot of youth on this roster, and plenty of reason to be hopeful about the future, but a second-consecutive sweep at the hands of rivals Colorado State certainly put the Cowboys in their place, at least for this season. The league announced on Tuesday morning that this week’s series against Utah State will be canceled due to COVID-19.
Next Up: Stay tuned!
6. UNLV (8-9, 5-5 MW; 31 points) ↔
The Rebels pulled off a sweep of Air Force last week, but it wasn’t quite as easy as they would have hoped. UNLV just hasn’t fully clicked this season, even when the team is winning, and it’s a legitimate cause for concern. That said, the roster chemistry situation could improve as TJ Otzelberger continues to put his fingerprints on this program. But given how the team has performed of late, they may be in for a long series against Boise State.
Next Up: at Boise State (Thu/Sat)
5. Nevada (14-7, 9-5 MW; 44 points) ↔
Reminder! These rankings don’t account for Sunday games, so our voters were not able to take into consideration that the Wolf Pack got the sweep over Boise State. Still, it’s a feat that deserves recognition. And speaking of being deserving of accolades — let’s talk about Grant Sherfield. The former Wichita State player has morphed into this year’s version of Jalen Harris, and if Nevada continues to surge, he should at least be in the conversation for league Player of the Year.
Next Up: at San Jose State (Sat/Mon)
4. Boise State (14-4, 10-3 MW; 50 points) ↓↓↓
The other shoe has officially dropped for Boise State, and it has seemingly dropped right in the square of the Broncos’ back. The team has dropped three of its last four contests after opening league play at 9-0 thanks to a pillowy early schedule. The split with Colorado State was one thing; getting swept by the fifth-place team in the league is another one entirely. Still, this roster is jam-packed with talent, and it would be foolish to think that the fire has completely gone out from this team. I would not want to be UNLV right about now, with Boise State salivating at the chance to get back in the good graces of the general voting public.
Next Up: vs. UNLV (Thu/Sat)
T-2. San Diego State (14-4, 8-3 MW; 57 points) ↑↑
The Aztecs are on a historic tear at the moment, becoming the first Division I team since 1999-00 to beat five straight conference opponents by 25 or more points. Yes, they’ve done so against the bottom of the league, but others in the league (looking at you, Boise State) have drawn effusive praise for beating up on bottom-feeders…so why not SDSU? Whatever woes were affecting this team in early January seem to have gone by the wayside. This team is looking like a serious title contender again.
Next Up: vs. San Jose State (Wed); at Fresno State (Thu/Sat)
T-2. Utah State (14-5, 11-2 MW; 57 points) ↑
The Aggies continue to climb back toward the top of the league, and they are actually currently in first place in terms of the actual MW leaderboard. Unfortunately for the Aggies, now there is a question of when exactly they’ll be able to get back onto the court. As noted above, they had one game against Fresno State cancelled last week, and this week’s tete-a-tete with Wyoming is officially off, too. Utah State could get passed up in the rankings if they can’t play, which would certainly affect seeding at the Mountain West Tournament. Something to keep an eye on, for sure.
Next Up: Stay tuned!
1. Colorado State (14-4, 11-3 MW; 62 points) ↑
Wow. Just… wow. If you would have told me before the season that the Rams would be sitting atop our Power Rankings in mid-February, I would have laughed you out of the room. I was personally high on this team coming into the year, but they have far exceeded even the loftiest external expectations for success. It should be noted, though, that the Rams have not exactly been blowing teams out of the water. They needed a late winner from Kendle Moore to top Wyoming, and they have four wins of three or fewer points in league play. So, what we’re saying is… enjoy your time on top, Colorado State — because there are some really good teams right on your heels.
Next Up: vs. New Mexico (Tue/Thu)
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.