Stephen Vilardo’s 2023-24 WK 9 MW Hoops Power Rankings

With two weeks and the conference tourney remaining, there's time for teams to make moves

Posted on February 26, 2024

  By Stephen Vilardo, SuperWest Sports

There are just two weeks left in the regular season and the Mountain West is still looking like it could be a six-bid league on Selection Sunday.

The conference’s RPI is still fourth best in the nation, though the combined NET rating is not as lofty,  checking in at seventh.

With two weeks and conference tournaments remaining, there is still some time for teams to make moves up and down. But the time to step on the gas pedal is now.

Here are my weekly power rankings for the Mountain West.

1. Utah State Aggies (22-5, 10-4) ▲1
The Aggies had just one game last week and it was a big one as USU took control of the Mountain West race with a win over San Diego State.

The offense was held to 16 points below their average against SDSU, but the win gave USU multiple wins against AP Top 25 teams for just the third time in school history.

The Aggies split the season series with SDSU and swept Boise State, giving them a leg up with just four games left on the slate.

This week there are two games against teams near the bottom of the standings in Air Force and Fresno State. The Aggies are 14th in the nation shooting the basketball at a clip of 48.7% this season.

USU is shooting 60.8% on non-blocked two-point attempts. Air Force is 344th in the nation in defending non-blocked twos with opponents shooting 59.9% while Fresno State is not much better at 55.4%.

2. San Diego State Aztecs (21-7, 10-5) ▼1
San Diego State lost their midweek showdown with Utah State before coming back with a big win over Fresno State.

The defense was good for the Aztecs in both games last week. They held Utah State to 68 points, the second-lowest scoring total at home this season for USU.

Against Fresno State, the Aztecs held the Bulldogs to just 41 points in the blowout win. The Bulldogs only had 16 points in the opening 20 minutes.

In the win, Jaedon LeDee had a double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds in just 26 minutes on the floor. LeDee averaged 22.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in the two games.

This week it is just one game for the Aztecs as they travel to San Jose State.

SDSU leads the league in scoring defense, allowing just 66 points per game this season. Last week the Spartans averaged just 56.5 points in their two games.

With three games left and a game back in the standings, the Aztecs can’t afford a setback. SDSU should have no issue with the Spartans.

3. Boise State Broncos (19-8, 10-4) ▲1
Boise State picked up a sweep last week with a pair of lopsided wins over San Jose State and Wyoming.

The win streak is now at three games for the Broncos and the margin in those three contests has been 22 points per game.

The defense has clamped down during the win streak while BSU has averaged 88 points per game in the three wins.

Boise State is now in a tie for the conference lead with Utah State, although two of their four losses came at the hands of the Aggies, giving USU the edge in a tiebreaker.

Should the Aggies slip up, the Broncos could slide into a title.

It won’t be an easy road, though. This week opens with a trip to Air Force before a brutal three-game stretch to end the season begins with a visit from New Mexico on Saturday.

4. Nevada Wolf Pack (22-6, 9-5) ▲2
Nevada enters the penultimate week of the regular season riding a three-game win streak following a pair of wins last week over Wyoming and San Jose State.

The wins last week came by an average of 19.5 points per game as the Wolf Pack flexed their muscles and pushed around a pair of opponents that they should have been able to do that against.

In the road win over SJSU the Pack saw four players score at least 12 points in a balanced win while the team shot 52.6% from the floor and 57.1% on threes for the game.

Nevada has now won six of their last seven games and will take their hot streak on the road this week against Colorado State before hosting Fresno State on Friday.

The Wolf Pack are getting hot at the right time of the year and could solidify things with a road win at CSU ahead of the final week of the regular season.

5. UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (16-10, 9-5) ▲2
Last week UNLV got a sweep of their two games with a dominant 29-point win at Air Force before getting a win at home by six over Colorado State.

The Rebels are now 7-1 in their last eight games and are a threat to any team in the conference. Once again this is looking like a case of what could have been.

The rout of AFA garnered a season split with the Falcons after the Rebels lost by 32 at home to them earlier in the season.

The up-and-down season has mostly been up recently but had far too many downs earlier in the season, especially in winnable outings.

The Rebels have two games this week, a trip to Wyoming before hosting San Jose State. This is a week that UNLV needs to go 2-0.

Heading into the final week of the regular season at 9-1 in your last 10 is a good spot to be in. UNLV cannot afford a letdown in either contest this week.

6. New Mexico Lobos (21-7, 9-6) ▼1
The Lobos split a pair of home games last week getting a win over Colorado State before falling to Air Force on Saturday. UNM is now just 1-3 in their last four games at The Pit.

The first meeting with Air Force was a 19-point win in which the Lobos collected 11 steals. In this loss, UNM only registered three steals and scored only seven points off eight Falcons TOs.

New Mexico is 38th in the nation with a turnover forced on 19.8% of possessions this season, against AFA that rate fell to 11.9%.

This week it is just one game on the schedule as the Lobos will travel to Boise State.

The loss to Air Force at home was costly and may have pushed the Lobos closer to the NCAA bubble. This week brings an opportunity to solidify their spot in the Big Dance with a quality road win.

7. Colorado State Rams (20-8, 8-7) ▼4
Colorado State’s road woes continued last week as the Rams were swept in their two games, both of which were away from Fort Collins. CSU is now just 1-7 this season on the road in conference play.

The Rams played a pair of tight ones in the losses at New Mexico and UNLV, but the offense had issues and the Rams were only able to average 63.0 points per game in the two losses.

CSU is averaging just 65.5 points per game on the road in conference play this season while they are scoring at a clip of 75.3 per outing in their seven home conference games.

The Rams are 14-1 this season at home and this week it is a pair of home games with Nevada and Wyoming.

CSU is third in the nation with an assist rate of 66.3%, Nevada is allowing an assist on 54.5% of made FGs this season, 245th in the nation.

8. Wyoming Cowboys (13-14, 6-8) ◄►
Last week Wyoming dropped a pair of games to Nevada and Boise State.

In the road loss to Nevada, the Pokes allowed 44 first-half points and 53.6% shooting from the field in the opening 20 minutes. Against Boise State, it was 51 first-half points allowed on 66.7% from the floor.

Those opening deficits were far too much for Wyoming to overcome. Wyoming is a good enough shooting team to knock off any opponent when they are on, but the Pokes need to defend better to make that happen consistently.

This week starts off with a visit from an extremely hot UNLV. The Rebels are playing very well but have been susceptible to letdowns this season.

The week will conclude with a trip to Colorado State on Saturday, despite the Rams’ struggles on the road this season they have been very good in Fort Collins.

Pulling an upset in either game this week will require the defensive effort to get turned up a notch.

9. Fresno State Bulldogs (11-16, 4-10) ◄►
Fresno State had just one game last week and the offense failed to show up for that lone affair.

The 41 points scored against San Diego State was the Bulldogs’ lowest output in a Mountain West game. Fresno State shot just 24.1% from the floor in the 32-point loss to the Aztecs.

Fresno State has now lost their last two games by 28 points per game and things don’t get any easier this week with MW leader Utah State coming to town on Tuesday. The second game of the week is a trip to Reno on Friday.

Don’t look for the Bulldogs to end the losing streak this week.

10. Air Force Falcons (9-17, 2-12) ▲1
The losing streak for Air Force reached seven games following a blowout loss to UNLV.

The Falcons move up one spot this week, however, as the streak came to an end last weekend with a one-point win at New Mexico.

The win over UNM snapped a 13-game losing streak against the Lobos at The Pit as the Falcons left Albuquerque with a win for the first time since 2007.

This week things will not be easy, but if the Falcons want to play spoiler the opportunity is there.

Co-conference leaders Boise State and Utah State are on the schedule over the next seven days. The Broncos come to Colorado Springs while it will be a trip to Logan over the weekend.

The Falcons could have a lot to say about the conference crown during the final two weeks of the regular season.

11. San Jose State Spartans (9-19, 2-13) ▼1
San Jose State’s struggles continued for another week with lopsided losses at the hands of Boise State and Nevada.

The Spartans have picked up just one road win this season and that was at Air Force.

This week it is the final two road games of the season for Tim Miles and SJSU with trips to San Diego State and UNLV. Both of those will be tough places to get a win and end a three-game slide.

The real question might be if I’m writing about four straight losses by 20+ points next week?

—More from Stephen Vilardo—