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Murray's Mountain West rankings: New Mexico shows Nevada does indeed bleed

Caleb Martin
Caleb Martin and the Wolf Pack take on San Jose State on Wednesday. (Nevada athletics)

Each week, Nevada Sports Net columnist Chris Murray will rank the Mountain West basketball teams. Here are this week’s rankings, with each team’s record and a comment. All records and rankings based on the games completed by Monday night.

1. Nevada

Rank last week: 1

Record: 14-1, 1-1 MW

Comment: Nevada bleeds. That was the lesson from the Wolf Pack’s 85-58 loss at New Mexico last weekend. Nevada is still the prohibitive favorite to win the Mountain West, but other teams in the conference now know the Wolf Pack is beatable. Nevada should roll over San Jose State on Wednesday, but its game at Fresno State on Saturday is now huge. The Bulldogs have a legit shot in that game if it plays well.

2. Fresno State

Rank last week: 3

Record: 11-3, 2-0

Comment: Fresno State scored double-digit wins over San Jose State and Colorado State to open MW action. Even better news: After missing four games with injury, Bulldogs star guard Deshon Taylor returned for those contests, posting 21 points against Colorado State. Fresno State gets Utah State and Nevada this week, so a big week for the Bulldogs to show they belong near the top of these rankings. A split is the minimum requirement.

3. Utah State

Rank last week: 2

Record: 11-4, 1-1

Comment: Utah State got creamed by Nevada before doing the creaming in a win over Air Force. The 3-point ball was the difference. The Aggies made 4-of-23 3-pointers against Nevada before sinking 11-of-26 against the Falcons. Utah State hosts Fresno State on Wednesday and is 7-0 at The Spectrum this year, playing well at home being a key step in rebuilding that program. That place can get as loud as any in the nation when it’s rocking.

4. New Mexico

Rank last week: 6

Record: 8-6, 2-0

Comment: New Mexico picked up the conference’s biggest win of the season by downing Nevada by 27 points. Credit Paul Weir for changing up his system, going from an uptempo man-to-man scheme to a slower-paced zone scheme. That, plus the addition of Kansas transfer Carlton Bragg, has the Lobos looking much more like the version we all expected this season. This week’s games (UNLV, CSU) are very winnable.

5. UNLV

Rank last week: 5

Record: 8-6, 2-0

Comment: After losing its last two games of non-conference play, UNLV won its first two in MW action. The first win came thanks to a goal-tending at the buzzer to beat Colorado State before a rout of Wyoming. I’m need to see more from the Rebels to move them higher than this. UNLV has a really favorable start to the conference season, with its next four games against New Mexico (twice), San Jose State and Air Force.

6. Boise State

Rank last week: 8

Record: 7-8, 2-0

Comment: It’s hard to say anybody had a better start to the MW season than New Mexico based on that Nevada win, but Boise State is a close second. The Broncos were 5-8 in non-league play, with zero wins over top-190 NET teams, but opened conference action with wins over Wyoming (by 15) and San Diego State (by 24). There are tougher tests ahead (namely Nevada next Tuesday), but this is a good start for Boise State.

7. San Diego State

Rank last week: 4

Record: 8-6, 0-1

Comment: Under second-year coach Brian Dutcher, the Aztecs have become the most Jekyll and Hyde team in the MW. We learned last year not to count out SDSU, but this team hasn’t looked great this season – a 24-point loss to Boise State, a 21-point loss to Brown, a 30-point loss to Iowa State, a 26-point loss to Duke and a 12-point loss to San Diego standing out most in the season to date.

8. Colorado State

Rank last week: 7

Record: 5-10, 0-2

Comment: Colorado State has lost five in a row and nine of its last 10 after a 4-1 start to the season. Granted, the Rams’ two MW losses both came on the road to teams slotted in the top half of these rankings (UNLV and Fresno State), but this is the worst defensive team in the MW – by a solid margin. CSU better beat Air Force at home Tuesday because the schedule following that is really tough.

9. Wyoming

Rank last week: 9

Record: 4-11, 0-2

Comment: Wyoming might actually end up below Air Force and San Jose State when it’s all said and done. The Cowboys are shooting 41.4 percent from the field this season (303rd in the nation) while allowing opponents to shoot 44.2 percent (237th in the nation). They’re also being out-rebounded by nearly five boards a night while posting 65 more turnovers than assists. Not much going right in Laramie.

10. Air Force

Rank last week: 10

Record: 5-9, 0-2

Comment: Air Force has not won more than one straight game or lost more than two straight games this season. It’s basically been a "one win followed by two losses" pattern. With the Falcons coming off two straight losses, they draw Colorado State on Tuesday, a very winnable game. Air Force also gets San Diego State at home this weekend, and if the Aztecs keep playing like this, that’s winnable, too.

11. San Jose State

Rank last week: 11

Record: 3-10, 0-1

Comment: SJSU lost its MW opener by 20 to Fresno State. That came on the heels of a 30-point loss to Saint Mary’s. And now the Spartans draw an angry Wolf Pack team coming off its first loss of the season. Good luck with that.

Columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. Contact him at crmurray@sbgtv.com or follow him on Twitter @MurrayNSN.

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