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Stephen Vilardo’s 2023-24 WK 3 MW Hoops Power Rankings

USU's 16 wins are tied for the most nationally & BSU leads the NCAA with 22 straight home wins

Posted on January 15, 2024

  By Stephen Vilardo, SuperWest Sports

The Mountain West Conference has two weeks in the books and things are looking competitive in the top half.

Utah State has picked up 16 wins this season, tied for the most in wins in the nation while Boise State has now won a NCAA leading 22 in a row at home.

Those two teams share the top spot in the standings and are atop my power rankings after week 2.

Here are my weekly power rankings for the Mountain West

1. Utah State Aggies (16-1, 4-0) ▲2
The win streak for the Aggies has reached an NCAA-leading 15 games. But that 15th straight was a wild one. It took a five-point play with eight seconds left and a UNLV miss at the buzzer to leave Vegas with a win.

The first win of the week was a much more comfortable 24-point win over Wyoming in Logan.

Great Osobor once again had a good week averaging 22 points and 11 rebounds for the week as he makes his case for early-season player of the year in the Mountain West.

Danny Sprinkle is making a case for Coach of the Year in the conference. He has got the Aggies rolling. It is another two-game week for Utah State this week.

On Tuesday, they head to The Pit to face New Mexico and will close out the week with a visit from Fresno State. A trip to Albuquerque is never an easy one and New Mexico is 9-0 on their home floor this season.

USU has gone 4-4 in their last eight trips to UNM, but they did win their most recent trip, an overtime win in 2021-22.

In fact, the Aggies have had a lot of success recently against the Lobos, winning nine of the last ten meetings overall.

New Mexico leads the conference in scoring at 82.7 per game, and Utah State is second at 81.9 scored per game.

The Aggies have been better on the defensive side of the ball than the Lobos. The team that does a better job on that end of the floor will be in better shape.

Utah State a good chance to steal one on the road and open 6-0 in the league after three weeks of play.

2. Boise State Broncos (12-4, 3-0) ▲4
Boise State had a 2-0 week to open conference play at 3-0 this season.

This week it was a pair of tough victories over some to the title contenders in the league as the win streak at ExtraMile Arena was extended to a nation-leading 22-straight with the win over Colorado State.

The second win of the week was a rare road win at Nevada. The Broncos won inside of Lawlor Events Center for just the second time since the start of the 2016-17 season.

Boise State has the top rebound margin in the conference at +7.7 for the season, and things have not let up since conference play began.

In their three conference games, the Broncos have a total rebound rate of 59.2%, the ninth best mark in the nation during that time frame. The rebound margin is up to +12 in conference play.

This week, BSU has a pair of home games as they look to extend the win streak. UNLV will be the first opponent before San Diego State will come to town.

The battle of the boards could be more difficult against the Aztecs. SDSU is second in the conference in rebounding margin and their balance on offense and defense will be tough to match.

Getting a pair of wins would set the Broncos up with a perfect mark after five conference games and hold serve at home with the Aztecs.

3. San Diego State Aztecs (14-3, 3-1) ▼2
San Diego State had two games away from home in week two and came away with a split.

That is not a terrible week, as long as they can win their home games and the road games, they should get they can afford to drop some of the road games that are 50/50 games.

The Aztecs got the win at San Jose State before falling at New Mexico. Against the Lobos, it was a 17-0 run that did them in. Jaedon LeDee continues to get the job done for SDSU.

In the two games last week, he averaged 23 points and eight rebounds including a 31-point, 10-rebound double-double in the win over the Spartans.

This season LeDee leads the MW with 21.6 points per game and is second with 8.6 boards per outing.

A pair of tough ones are on the slate this week with a visit from Nevada and a trip to Boise.

A split for the week against a pair of championship contenders would put the Aztecs in a good spot in the conference race but a sweep of the week would give the Aztecs a leg up over a pair of rivals.

Both opponents this week will play defense and points will be at a premium for San Diego State.

4. Nevada Wolf Pack (15-2, 2-1) ▼2
Nevada saw its win streak run to eight games with a win over Air Force last week only to see it come to a halt with a loss at home to Boise State.

Jarod Lucas saw his consecutive FT streak come to an end at 34 in a row following his miss against BSU, but he did finish in double figures for the 17th time this season, giving him at least ten points in every game.

This week features two road games. A difficult one at San Diego State and a trip to Wyoming that the Wolf Pack should be able to secure a road win in.

Nevada is leading the MW and 13th in the nation in scoring defense allowing just 63.6 points per game. In conference play, the defense has been even more stifling.

The Pack have allowed just 58.3 points per game in the three conference games. That defense will get tested with San Diego State and their physicality.

Stealing one from the Aztecs in San Diego would be huge. Nevada has not won at San Diego State since 1998-99, dropping their last 11 to the Aztecs on the road.

Their win over the Aztecs in Reno last season broke a nine-game losing streak vs SDSU regardless of location.

5. New Mexico Lobos (14-3, 2-2) ◄►
It was another 1-1 week for the Lobos in the second week of conference play.

The week included a bit of a mixed bag for UNM with a loss at UNLV followed up by a huge win over San Diego State over the weekend.

Against UNLV the Lobos did not force enough turnovers as the 10 Rebel miscues were the fewest by a UNM opponent all season. The 18-point win over SDSU was the largest over a ranked opponent for UNM since 2019.

JT Toppin leads the conference and is fifth nationally among freshmen with 1.71 blocked shots per game.

This week brings a visit from Utah State before a trip to Air Force. The Lobos should be looking at another split for the week at the minimum.

New Mexico needs to get the win over Utah State at home to stay in the conference race. A loss to the Aggies would put them three behind them.

If they want a chance at the conference title, they need to get the wins on their home floor.

6. Colorado State Rams (13-3, 1-2) ▼2
Conference play has not opened the way the Rams would have liked it to. It has been a tough schedule and continued last week with a trip to Boise State.

The Rams were not able to leave with a win. Colorado State was able to limit BSU to just 38.9% from the floor and won the rebounding battle 33-30. The Rams could not overcome a 4-for-16 night on three-pointers.

Turnovers also did the Rams in during the loss. CSU coughed it up 16 times, on 24.5% of their possessions. They have a turnover rate of 14.9% this season, ranking 50th in the nation.

In their three conference games, that rate has jumped to 19.1%.

The schedule will ease a bit this week with a pair of games in Fort Collins against Air Force and UNLV. The Rams have won nine of their last 10 over the Falcons.

CSU has lost three of their last four vs UNLV and their last two at home against the Rebels. Not turning it over will be key for CSU this week.

UNLV has forced a TO on 20.8% of possessions in their last three. Air Force is forcing one on 19% of possessions but just 13.9% during conference games.

This week seems like a chance for the Rams to pick up a pair of wins at home and get the season going back in the right direction.

7. UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (8-7, 1-2) ▲1

Where the Rebels could or should be sitting right after three conference games?

UNLV is in the middle of a brutal stretch to start conference play and picked up one win last week over New Mexico before agonizingly falling at home to Utah State.

The Rebels lost a four-point lead with eight seconds to play fueled entirely by a five-point play for the Aggies. You simply cannot have an away-from-the-ball foul on a three-pointer at that point in the game.

The brutal stretch continues this week with a pair of road games at Boise State and Colorado State.

The Broncos have won 22 straight at home and while the Rams have started conference play slow. They are loaded with talent.

UNLV has been able to score the basketball this season but that could be a tall order against Boise State and their defense, especially on the road. BSU allows just 60.3 points per game on their home floor.

8. Wyoming Cowboys (9-8, 2-2) ▼1
Wyoming ran its home record to 6-1 with their buzzer beater over Fresno State over the weekend.

That win followed a loss at Utah State, which ran the Cowboys’ record on the road to 0-6 on the season.

Dating to last season, the Cowboys have lost their last eight true road games. Wyoming leads the MW and is 18th in the nation shooting 38.1% on three-pointers this season.

Against USU they were only able to connect on five of 18 from beyond the arc. The lone game this week will be at Nevada. The Wolf Pack are allowing opponents to shoot just 31.4% on threes this season.

Wyoming has won six in a row over Nevada, if they want to make it seven in a row the Cowboys will need to knock down their three-pointers.

9. San Jose State Spartans (8-9, 1-3) ◄►
The Spartans fell to San Diego State last week but picked up a weekend win over Air Force on the road. It took an MJ Amey buzzer-beater to secure the win over Air Force.

Amey has led the way for SJSU during conference play with 22 points per game and six rebounds per game. The Spartans have another shot at a win this week with the only game on the schedule a trip to Fresno State.

The fact that it took a buzzer-beater to get the win at Air Force is not exactly a promising fact nor was the Spartans getting outscored by 10-points in the second half.

SJSU should be able to leave Fresno State with a win, but it looks like not much will come easy for the Spartans this season.

10. Air Force Falcons (7-8, 0-3) ◄►
The Falcons recorded a 13-point loss at Nevada and a three-point loss at home to San Jose State last week.

Air Force is going to struggle to win many games in conference play this season. This week it is a trip to Fort Collins and a visit from New Mexico.

Both will be extremely difficult games for the Falcons. They don’t match up well with a lot of teams, but New Mexico may be an extremely bad matchup with the Lobos’ athleticism.

11. Fresno State Bulldogs (7-9, 0-3) ◄►
Fresno State played just one game last week at Wyoming. The Bulldogs were more competitive in the one-point loss to the Cowboys but still failed to get the win.

Fresno State was able to score a bit better against UW as they cracked 60 for the first time in three conference games. The Bulldogs are averaging just 57 points per game in conference play.

They are averaging just 68.1 in all games ranking 272nd in the nation.

This week features a rivalry game with San Jose State at home before a trip to Utah State to close out the week ahead. San Jose State at home is a chance to pick up a conference win but they will have to score.

Fresno State ranks 10th in the league in scoring and the Spartans are 10th in scoring defense.  The trip to Logan could be ugly.

—More from Stephen Vilardo—