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Stephen Vilardo’s 2023-24 WK 6 MW Hoops Power Rankings

New Mexico and Utah State both suffered defeats and the standings have tightened up

Posted on February 5, 2024

  By Stephen Vilardo, SuperWest Sports

After five weeks of conference play, things are getting tighter.

New Mexico and Utah State both suffered defeats and the standings have tightened up.

Colorado State appears like they may have regained a but of their non-conference form and San Diego State got a huge win at home over USU.

Here are my weekly power rankings for the Mountain West.

1. Utah State Aggies (19-3, 7-2) ◄►
Utah State got a split last week knocking off San Jose State before falling at San Diego State over the weekend.

Great Osobor averaged 24 points and seven rebounds in the two games last week. In the loss to the Aztecs, the Aggies were outrebounded for just the third time this season.

Utah State did not get enough production from their bench in the 14-point loss as the reserves only scored six points after averaging 21.1 per game for the season.

Utah State has now lost 10 straight games at San Diego State and has not beaten the Aztecs on their home floor since 1998.  This loss evens the Aggies with Boise State in the standings.

This week will bring a pair of home games with Nevada and Boise State coming to Logan.

A win over Boise State would not only put USU one game up in the standings but also complete the season sweep over the Broncos and claim any tiebreakers with the Broncos.

USU continues to shoot lights out this season, ranking sixth in the nation at 50.3% from the floor.

2. Boise State Broncos (16-6, 7-2) ▲1
Boise State had a very good week going to New Mexico and getting a win before finishing the week off with a dominant win over Air Force at home.

The pair of wins coupled with Utah State’s slip up has the Broncos tied for the league lead with a trip to Logan on deck for next weekend.

With the win at New Mexico, the Broncos picked up their just fourth win ever over a ranked team on the road and their first since 2015.

This season BSU is 3-1 against ranked opponents. In the win over the Falcons, Boise State averaged 1.6 points per possession.

That was the highest points per possession by any Division I team in a conference game in the last six years.

The offensive efficiency will need to continue this week with a trip to Colorado State coming mid-week before the showdown with Utah State in Logan.

3. New Mexico Lobos (18-4, 6-3) ▼1
The Lobos had a single home game last week and fell to Boise State.

The loss at home to Boisse Stat stings a little bit more with Utah State also falling as the Lobos already have a win over the Aggies in hand.

It was just the 10th time the Lobos have lost a game at the Pit while being ranked. The Lobos also suffered through their longest drought of the season as they were outscored 14-0 by the Broncos in a portion of the second half.

The loss saw the Lobos’ five-game win streak come to a halt. The Lobos had the weekend off before they head to Wyoming for the first of two games this week with a visit from UNLV being the second game.

New Mexico ranks 12th in the nation with 84.0 points per game this season. Wyoming is giving up 75.9 points per game while the Rebels are slightly better allowing 71.4 per outing.

The Lobos should be able to score in both games without much trouble. UNM is seventh in the nation in first-half scoring margin with a 9.5-point average per first half this season.

This is a week that the Lobos could go 2-0 and bury their opponents early and coast a bit, but in the Mountain West you never really know.

4. San Diego State Aztecs (17-5, 6-3) ◄►
San Diego State seems like a team that is built for another deep run in the NCAA Tournament, and they are poised to repeat some of the magic from last season.

The Aztecs just have to get more consistent. Last week they picked up a win over conference leader Utah State after falling in Fort Collins to a Colorado State team that appeared to be reeling a bit.

In the win over Utah State the Aztecs collected 56.5% of the rebounds on hand over a team that leads the conference with a total rebound rate of 53.8%.

This week it is two road trips to Air Force and Nevada. These are both winnable games for the Aztecs and if they want to make noise on the national level as well as in conference play then SDSU needs a 2-0 week.

Jaedon LeDee continues to lead the league in scoring at 20.3 points per game while averaging 8.6 rebounds per outing.

5. Colorado State Rams (17-5, 5-4) ▲1
Colorado State had a much-needed 2-0 week with a big mid-week win over San Diego State before finishing things off with a weekend win over Fresno State.

The Rams are now 11-1 this season in Fort Collins. This week CSU has a pair of home games with Boise State and San Jose State.

Should the Rams be sitting at 13-1 in home games when this is written next week they will be in good shape. The swoon that Colorado State had experienced could be turning back into a winning streak.

CSU has now won two in a row following a two-game losing streak. The Rams are still struggling on the offensive glass and rank 312th in the nation with an offensive rebound rate of just 22.4%.

Getting extra looks could be difficult this week in the matchup with Boise State.

The Broncos currently rank 40th in the nation with a total rebound rate of 53.4% while they are pulling down 77% of the defensive rebound opportunities.

6. Nevada Wolf Pack (17-5, 4-4) ▼1
The Wolf Pack had just one game on the schedule for the week that was and they took care of business against San Jose State in Reno.

The Pack dominated the Spartans in the win as five players finished the night with double figures in scoring. Nevada put up 90 but limited San Jose State to just 60 points, their lowest total in conference play this season.

This week the schedule gets turned up a notch with a trip to Utah State and a visit from San Diego State.

If the Wolf Pack are to contend for the conference title and make a run at an NCAA at large bid this is the week to solidify things.

This is the first meeting with the Aggies this season and the second with SDSU.

In the loss in San Diego earlier this season, the Pack trailed for over 36 minutes of the game while holding a lead for just over a minute of play. Nevada will need a better effort with the Aztecs coming to Reno.

7. UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (12-9, 5-4) ▲1
UNLV had a much-needed 2-0 week last week as the roller coaster that is the Rebels season continues.

The Rebels had 10 steals and limited Wyoming to 48 points in the win over the weekend. That followed a mid-week win over Fresno State and the Rebels have now won three in a row.

The two wins were big in the sense that they were games the Rebels should have won, and this season that has not always been a foregone conclusion as UNLV has tended to play up or down to the level of their competition.

This week brings a mid-week bye before heading to New Mexico over the weekend. The Rebels have lost eight of their last nine games against New Mexico and five in a row at the Pit.

8. Wyoming Cowboys (12-10, 5-4) ▼1
Last week Wyoming had another 1-1 week with a road win at Air Force before falling to UNLV in Las Vegas.

In the loss to the Rebels, the Cowboys offense never found their rhythm. UW shot just 34.6% from the floor and 16% on three-pointers.

Four for 25 on three-pointers is never going to get it done for the Cowboys as they are getting a third of their points this season from beyond the arc.

The other big issue was turnovers against UNLV as they committed 14 of them for the game with a turnover rate of 23.6%. This season the Cowboys now rank 332nd in the nation with a turnover on 19.9% of their possessions.

This week it is just one game with New Mexico coming to Laramie. The Cowboys will have to do a better job of taking care of the ball in that one or the Lobos will make them pay.

UNM is ninth in the nation with 16.4 fastbreak points per game and 24th in the country with a turnover forced on 21% of opponents’ possessions.

9. Fresno State Bulldogs (9-13, 2-7) ◄►
It was a 0-2 week for Fresno State as they fell at UNLV and to Colorado State at home. Fresno State is just 1-12 this season when they fail to score at least 70 points in a game.

The Bulldogs have taken care of things against the teams below them in the conference with wins over Air Force and San Jose State but have yet to spring an upset this season.

The good news for Fresno State this week is the two games on the schedule are against Air Force and San Jose State, but both are on the road.

The Bulldogs have been outscored by an average of 13.9 points per game on the road this season. At home, they are +4.9 per game this season.

10. Air Force Falcons (8-12, 1-8) ◄►
Last week Air Force lost a pair of games with a home court loss to Wyoming before a 38-point loss at Boise State.

The Falcons suffered through a 34% shooting night against the Broncos in a game in which they were only able to collect 22 total rebounds despite missing 34 shots from the floor.

There were certainly opportunities for rebounds, especially on the offensive end where they only got 23.3% of them. The 38-point loss came on the heels of a 34-point conference sin last week over UNLV.

This week it will be San Diego State and Fresno State visiting Colorado Springs. If the Falcons are to pick up a win this week it would be against Fresno.

11. San Jose State Spartans (8-14, 1-8) ◄►
The losing streak has now reached five games for San Jose State.

The struggles continued for Tim Miles and the Spartans last week as they fell in a pair of road games to Nevada and Utah State. The last four losses have been by an average of 21 points, the two last week by 25.5.

The good news is a visit from Fresno State is on the schedule this week. That is a game the Spartans can win at home.

—More from Stephen Vilardo—