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MW rankings: Does SDSU hold on to top spot after eking out wins over Nevada?

Derrick Tuskan
San Diego State eked two wins out against Nevada last week. (Derrick Tuskan/San Diego State){ }

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 Tuesday night.

1. San Diego State

Last week: 1

Record: 9-2, 3-1 MW

Comment: SDSU struggled to win its two games against Nevada, eking out victories in both contests despite being double-digit favorites. The Aztecs’ frontcourt remains strong, but the backcourt has been significantly downgraded from last season. The team’s home-court edge has dried up without fans. SDSU is 4-2 in its last six home games with close wins over Nevada (twice) and Pepperdine. All that said, SDSU still deserves the No. 1 spot on the strength of its non-league, which was better that Boise State’s.

2. Boise State

Last week: 2

Record: 11-1, 7-0

Comment: If Boise State played SDSU today, I’d pick the Broncos to win, but the Aztecs have the better résumé, and my rankings – in the AP Top 25 and these – are based on what teams accomplish on the court. Boise State has won 11 straight games, but 10 of them have been outside the Quad 1 or 2 category (SDSU has four Quad 1 or 2 wins compared to Boise State’s one). The Broncos have won their seven MW games by 25.1 ppg and that includes a one-point win over SJSU. Boise State’s been dominant.

3. Colorado State

Last week: 3

Record: 8-2, 5-1

Comment: Colorado State pulled out back-to-back three-point home wins over UNLV last week. David Robby hit the go-ahead bucket with 26 seconds left and CSU down one in the first matchup. In game two, Isaiah Stevens hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 27 seconds left and the game tied. The Rams simply closed games better than the Rebels, and Stevens averaged 23.5 points, six rebounds and six assists per game in the sweep of UNLV. CSU has a two-game series with San Jose State this week.

4. Utah State

Last week: 5

Record: 9-3, 6-0

Comment: Utah State continued its tour of MW cellar-dwellers with two wins over New Mexico last week, which followed sweeps of Air Force and San Jose State (those of the MW’s three worst teams). The Aggies’ average win margin in those six games is a ridiculous 33.3 ppg. The closest win in that span came by 19 points. Utah State starts a two-game home series with San Diego State on Thursday, which will tell us a lot more about the Aggies, who are 0-3 in Quad 1 or 2 games and 9-3 in Quad 3 or 4 games.

5. Nevada

Last week: 6

Record: 8-5, 3-3

Comment: Nevada dropped two games at SDSU, doing so in close fashion. The Wolf Pack led the first game with less than 2 minutes to play before losing the second game on a running bank shot as time expired. Nevada fell to 3-16 against SDSU since joining the MW in 2012, including 0-9 at Viejas Arena, but it’s two of the better games Nevada has played this year. The Wolf Pack can’t take those results as a moral victory and needs a sweep of Fresno State this week as it angles for a MW Tournament first-round bye.

6. Wyoming

Last week: 4

Record: 7-3, 1-2

Comment: After a 7-1 start to the season, Wyoming has lost back-to-back games, each coming by 20-plus points. The first one was to Fresno State and the second one to Boise State, which Wyoming plays Wednesday night in the second part of their two-game series. Defense has been a major issue in those games. In fact, Wyoming is bad defensively, ranking 300th in the nation in KenPom’s advanced metrics. Only San Jose State has worse defensive numbers than Wyoming, so the Cowboys must improve there.

7. Fresno State

Last week: 10

Record: 5-3, 3-3

Comment: Fresno State responded from starting 0-3 in MW play by winning three straight league games, including a win over Wyoming and two over San Jose State. The Bulldogs get a tougher test this week with two games at Nevada. 7-footer Orlando Robinson has six double-doubles in eight games and could make the argument for best big man in the MW with Utah State’s Neemias Queta and SDSU’s Nathan Mensah in the mix. Fresno State is getting improved guard play from transfers Isaiah Hill and Deon Stroud.


Last week: 7

Record: 2-6, 0-2

Comment: UNLV returned from COVID-induced month layoff by losing two heartbreakers at Colorado State, each coming by three points. The Rebels made just 13-of-47 3-pointers (27.7 percent) in those losses but is shooting 37.6 percent from three in its other six games. So, it’s a good sign UNLV was competitive on the road against a good MW opponent despite two bad shooting nights. But the Rebels are still 2-6, even after beating non-DI school St. Katherine on Tuesday. UNLV draws New Mexico this week.

9. Air Force

Last week: 8

Record: 3-7, 1-5

Comment: Since its second-half comeback to win at Nevada on Dec. 20, Air Force has lost four straight (two each to Utah State and Boise State) by a combined 84 points. The Falcons’ defense was abysmal in those four games, with the team allowing more than 122 points per 100 possessions. Air Force draws Wyoming this week, and the Cowboys are an above-average offensive team, so it’s not a great matchup, although the Falcons have better odds of beating Wyoming than they did Utah State or Boise State.

10. New Mexico

Last week: 9

Record: 3-6, 0-6

Comment: I know New Mexico had a difficult offseason since it couldn’t practice, but the Lobos are getting thrashed in every game, and that shouldn’t happen based on the roster. The Lobos have fallen to 0-6 with a minus-163 scoring margin in those games (27.2 per loss). While the competition has been strong (Boise State, Nevada, Utah State), that’s not acceptable for a program the caliber of New Mexico. The Lobos play Dixie State before its two-game series with UNLV and desperately need a league win.

11. San Jose State

Last week: 11

Record: 2-8, 0-6

Comment: I’m sticking with, “At least SJSU had a good football season” until the Spartans win a MW basketball game.

Columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @ByChrisMurray.

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