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Stephen Vilardo’s 2023-24 WK 8 MW Hoops Power Rankings

The league's current RPI has it ranked as the fourth best in the nation, just behind the Big Ten

Posted on February 20, 2024

  By Stephen Vilardo, SuperWest Sports

After seven weeks of conference play the Mountain West looks like an extremely deep league.

The current RPI of the league has them ranked as the fourth best in the nation. They sit just behind the Big Ten and ahead of a trio of power conferences in the ACC, Big East, and Pac-12.

As it sits now, the league could be looking at six bids to the NCAA Tournament.

Here are my weekly power rankings for the Mountain West.

1. San Diego State Aztecs (20-6, 9-4) ▲3
San Diego State swept the week that was with solid performances against Colorado State and New Mexico.

The two wins at home run their record to 13-0 inside Viejas Arena and make the Aztecs winners of four of their last five games.

The best player in the Mountain West had the best week in the Conference last week as Jaedon LeDee picked up MW player of the week honors as he averaged 25.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals, 1.0 assists and 0.5 blocks in the two wins.

The back-to-back 20-point efforts were the 13th and 14th times this season that he scored 20+ in a contest this season.

LeDee will once again need to step up this week as the Aztecs travel to Utah State in a showdown for first place in the Mountain West standings. San Diego State has proven through the years that they are able to win on the road.

Since 2009-10, the Aztecs have posted a 105-65 mark on opponent’s home floors, the seventh-best mark in the nation in road games over that time. This season the Aztecs are just 4-6 in their two true road games.

In addition to the showdown with Utah State, SDSU will also travel to Fresno State over the weekend. A pair of road wins will put the Aztecs in position to claim the regular season crown.

2. Utah State Aggies (21-5, 9-4) ▼1
The Aggies split a pair of games last week with an eight-point win over Wyoming before falling by 20 points at Colorado State.

The 55 points scored in the loss to the Rams was the second-lowest offensive output of the season for Utah State. The Aggies were outscored 48-26 in the paint in the loss and were limited to just 38.6% from the floor.

This week it is a single game for the Aggies, but it is a big one.

Utah State will host San Diego State in a contest that could decide the regular season crown on Wednesday night. The Aztecs picked up a win in San Diego in the first meeting between the teams.

The Aggies will need to find their shooting form that disappeared in the loss to CSU last week.

USU is 14th in the nation shooting 49.4% from the floor. In the loss to the Aztecs earlier this season, they were limited to 38.7% shooting.

Utah State is 11-1 at home this season and they have shot 52.3% inside the Spectrum this season compared to 46.2% away from home.

If the Aggies can protect their home floor, a MW title could be there for the taking in a few weeks.

3. Colorado State Rams (20-6, 8-5) ▼1
Colorado State’s win streak came to an end last Tuesday at San Diego State, but the Rams rebounded with a win over Utah State at home over the weekend.

The loss to SDSU was CSU’s 12th loss to the Aztecs in their last 15 meetings.

Salvaging a split with the two teams tied at the top of the standings made it a pretty good week as they split the season series with both.

The two games proved to be a tale of different shooting as the Rams were hot against the Aggies in the win connecting on over 45% in the win while slipping to 35% in the loss.

Colorado State is now 14-1 on their home floor this season but just 3-5 in road games.

This week it is a pair of games on the road at New Mexico and UNLV. It will be the first meeting of the season with the Rebels while the Rams already have a win in hand over the Lobos.

Picking up a pair of road wins and a sweep of UNM would do wonders for the Rams postseason resumé. The Rams currently rank 25th in the NET rankings and own a 4-5 record in Quad 1 games.

The win over New Mexico would be a fifth Quad 1 win while a win at UNLV could end up being one if the Rebels finish strong.

4. Boise State Broncos (17-8, 8-4) ▲1
Boise State saw their two-game losing streak come to an end with a win at home over Fresno State. The Broncos got right in a big way at the expense of the Bulldogs.

BSU was able to put up 90 points and saw their top four scorers in the contest equal the offensive output of the Bulldogs with 66 points.

This week Boise State has a chance to gain some ground in the standings. Sitting just a half-game behind SDSU and USU, the Broncos will be assured of seeing one of those teams fall as they face each other.

Boise State will have a home game against a struggling San Jose State squad and an up-and-down Wyoming team.

In the win last week, the Broncos scored 30 points in the paint and had 30 scored off ten made three-pointers.

The balance inside and out will be too much for either opponent this week and the defense has the ability to limit the potentially hot shooting Cowboys.

The Broncos should see their win streak climb to three games after this week.  A pair of wins could have the Broncos set up for a stretch run at potentially claiming at least a piece of the league title.

5. New Mexico Lobos (20-6, 8-5) ▲2
The Lobos split a pair of games last week with a win at Nevada before falling at San Diego State.

It was a pair of Quad 1 games last week and getting the win over the Wolf Pack will be a good win in March when those things are scrutinized.

In the two games, JT Toppin averaged 14.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game, while shooting 60 percent from the floor.

Toppin connected on every FT he attempted, earning him the Conference’s award as the top Freshman of the Week.

Prior to the loss at San Diego State, the Lobos had won four straight road games. This week it is a pair of games at home.

While the Lobos are 4-1 in their last five on the road, they suddenly have a two-game losing streak in games played in Albuquerque.

The matchup with Colorado State on Wednesday is a big one, giving the Rams another chance at a Quad 1 victory as UNM looks to build its postseason resumé.

The week concludes with a visit from Air Force in a game the Lobos should not have any trouble in.

6. Nevada Wolf Pack (20-6, 7-5) ▼3
Nevada garnered a split last week with a pair of games that came down to the wire.

The week opened with a loss at home to New Mexico by one.

In the 82-83 loss, the Pack shot over 50% in the second half with only seven turnovers and an assist rate of 72.4% while hitting 18 of 22 from the foul stripe.

Offensively they did what they needed to get a win, the defense let them down as UNM was over 61% in the first half and shot 50% for the game.

The week concluded with a dramatic come-from-behind win over UNLV on the road. For the two games last week, the Wolf Pack shot a combined 56% from the floor after halftime.

This week it is a home game with Wyoming ahead of a trip to San Jose State.

It is now back-to-back 20-win seasons for Nevada and the Pack should be knocking on the door of an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. But they cannot afford to drop either of these winnable games this week.

At 4-1 in their last five games, Nevada is starting to build some steam at the end of February.

7. UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (14-10, 7-5) ▼1
Last week UNLV saw their win streak balloon to five games with a win over Fresno State to start the week.

The streak would come to an end at the hands of Nevada in a tight one in Las Vegas on Saturday night.

That loss also snapped a four-game win streak in the series over the Wolf Pack. The loss was another one in a season of “what-ifs” for the Rebels.

UNLV saw a nine-point lead evaporate over the last few minutes of the contest in another winnable contest that the Rebels let get away from them.

UNLV has two chances to get a win streak re-started this week beginning with a trip to Air Force before hosting a hot Colorado State team over the weekend.

The Rebels should be able to take care of business against the lowly Falcons, but the only win this season for Air Force was a beatdown of UNLV in Las Vegas.

Conversely, UNLV lost a three-point nail-biter to the Rams in Fort Collins the first time around. A pair of wins could keep hope alive for Kevin Kruger’s squad.

The way the season has gone, it would not surprise me in the least if the Rebels split with a loss to Air Force followed by an upset win over CSU.

8. Wyoming Cowboys (13-12, 6-6) ◄►
Last week Wyoming split with a loss to Utah State before snapping their four-game losing streak with a win at San Jose State.

The win over the Spartans was by just five points and proved to be a much tighter contest than expected.

It was the eighth time the Cowboys shot over 50% from the floor in a game and winning the tight ones is always a lot better than losing the tight ones.

This week it is a pair of tough ones with a trip to Reno ahead of a visit from Boise State. The Cowboys have the ability to get hot in any game and can shoot their way to upsets, especially at home.

UW is shooting 38.3% on three-pointers on their home floor this season.  If Wyoming can find their shot, they could pull an upset or two this week.

The issue this week is Nevada is second in the conference in FG defense this season while BSU is third in the league defending the three.

Things will not be easy for the Pokes.

9. Fresno State Bulldogs (11-15, 4-9) ◄►
Fresno State fell twice again this week.

After picking up a pair of two-point wins against the two teams below them, the Bulldogs opened last week with a third straight two-point game, falling to UNLV 67-65.

In the game on Saturday at Boise State, the Bulldogs were simply overmatched in a 24-point loss.

The Bulldogs’ inability to score points could be a problem this week as San Diego State and Utah State come to town.

Fresno State has proven to be the best of the bottom three, but competing with the teams at the top of the standings has proved much more difficult.

10. San Jose State Spartans (9-16, 2-11) ▲1
Tim Miles and the Spartans saw their seven-game losing skid come to a halt with a 73-66 win over Air Force to start the week.

The winning ways would not continue as SJSU closed out the week with a five-point loss to Wyoming.

Getting the win over Air Force was big; looking at the schedule, that was their last best chance for a win.

This week it is a trip to Boise State before facing Nevada at home. The Spartans don’t match well with either of them.

11. Air Force Falcons (8-16, 1-11) ▼1
The losing streak is now at six games following the loss last week at San Jose State. The Falcons are still looking for their first win since January 23.

The good news is that the last win was over UNLV, which is on the schedule this Wednesday. The bad news is the Rebels have gone 5-1 since that game.

A sweep of UNLV will not be easy. And even more difficult might be the trip to New Mexico to close out the week.

The Falcons could be looking at an eight-game slide at this time next week.

—More from Stephen Vilardo—