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Stephen Vilardo’s ’23-24 WK 10 MW Hoops Power Rankings

With six schools in the top 41 in the NET, the league could land six NCAA Tournament bids

Posted on March 4, 2024

  By Stephen Vilardo, SuperWest Sports

As we head into the final week of the regular season, the Mountain West still has a bit of a log jam at the top of the standings and nothing has been decided yet.

Utah State is in the driver’s seat for the conference crown with a 12-4 record and owning the tiebreaker over Boise State.

Should the Aggies stumble, four teams are sitting within one game in the loss column.

Six MW schools currently rank in the top 41 in the NET as the league could be looking at six bids to the NCAA Tournament.

Here are my weekly power rankings for the Mountain West.

1. Utah State Aggies (24-5, 12-4) ◄►
The Aggies survived an upset bid with an overtime win over Fresno State to start the week.

Utah State shot over 50% from the floor against the Bulldogs. On Friday night, the Aggies came back with another win over Air Force.

The Aggies withstood a pair of games that they could not afford to drop. Utah State’s 24-5 start to the season is tied for the fifth-best in school history while the 12-4 mark in conference play is their third best since joining the MW.

The Aggies are set up to grab the conference title with a pair of wins this week. They open with a trip to San Jose before finishing the season with New Mexico at home.

Utah State ranks eighth in the nation shooting 49.6% from the floor. In the two wins last week, USU shot 52.7% from the field.

San Jose State is 333rd in the nation in FG defense, allowing opponents to shoot 47.2% from the floor while New Mexico has allowed opponents to shoot 43.5% from the floor.

2. San Diego State Aztecs (23-7, 11-5) ◄►
San Diego State had just one game last week and collected a win over San Jose State at home to run their record to 14-0 in Viejas Arena.

Jaedon LeDee picked up his 11th double-double of the season in the win as he went for 27 points and 11 rebounds. In the last three games, LeDee has averaged 24 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.

This week the Aztecs close out the season with a trip to UNLV before hosting Boise State to close out the campaign.

A pair of wins would keep SDSU’s conference title chances alive but the Aztecs would need help with a Utah State loss.

3. Boise State Broncos (20-8, 12-4) ◄►
Boise State picked up a sweep last week with a lopsided win over Air Force and a 10-point victory over New Mexico. The two wins keep the Broncos tied for the lead in the conference.

Tyson Degenhart went for 23 in the win over the Lobos, giving him 20+ points in three straight games, and six of the last eight games.

Grabbing a share of the conference crown will not be easy.

This week it’s Nevada at home before heading to San Diego to end the regular season with the Aztecs. The Broncos have won five of the last six meetings with the Aztecs but are just 1-5 in their last six trips to San Diego.

4. Nevada Wolf Pack (24-6, 11-5) ◄►
Nevada enters the final week of the regular season on a five-game win streak following a pair of wins last week over Colorado State and Fresno State.

The Wolf Pack ended the win over Fresno State with an assist rate of 88.5% for the game.

To run the win streak to seven games entering the conference tournament, the Pack will need to pick up a road win at Boise State and complete the season sweep of UNLV at the Lawlor Events Center.

Nevada is riding a lot of momentum into the final week of the season having won nine of their last 11 games.

Heading into the postseason with a pair of wins this week will punch the Wolf Pack’s ticket to the NCAA Tournament if there is still any doubt left.

5. UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (18-10, 11-5) ◄►
Last week UNLV picked up a sweep to run their win streak to four games.

The Rebels got things going with an overtime win at Wyoming before picking up an 18-point win over San Jose State at home.

UNLV is now 9-1 in their last 10 games and has played itself into postseason consideration.

The Rebels have more of an NIT resume than an NCAA resume, however, with a 4-3 mark in Quad 1 games.

They will get a chance to pick up two more Quad 1 wins this week with a visit from San Diego State before heading to Nevada to close out the regular season.

The quality wins have been undone a bit by some bad losses this season as UNLV is just 6-3 in Quad 4 games.

6. New Mexico Lobos (21-8, 9-7) ◄►
The Lobos lost their only game last week, a 10-point defeat at Boise State. The loss makes it two straight and a defeat in three of their last four outings.

The defeat to the Broncos dropped the Lobos to 2-5 in Quad 1 games this season.

JT Toppin led the way for the Lobos in the loss with 21 points. All three of the freshman’s 20+ games this season have come away from Albuquerque.

UNM is still ranked 28th in the NET rankings and looks to be solidly in the field of 68 barring some upsets during Championship Week.

This week brings a chance to solidify things with a trip to Logan Utah to end the regular season.

The finale against the Aggies will provide an opportunity to potentially spoil USU’s regular season title and give the Lobos a quality win.

New Mexico will open the week with a home game against Fresno State.

7. Colorado State Rams (21-9, 9-8) ◄►
Colorado State split its two games last week with a loss at home to Nevada before getting a win over Wyoming on Senior Night over the weekend.

The Rams finished off the season with a 15-1 record at home. The seniors stepped up in their final game in Fort Collins as the five seniors combined for 54 of the Rams’ 70 points scored in the win.

This week it is just one game on the schedule with a trip to Air Force.

This is a winnable game for the Rams but they have had their struggles away from home this season as they are just 1-7 in Mountain West road games with the lone win coming at Fresno State.

The Rams scoring average is nearly 10 points lower in conference games on the road compared to those played at home.

8. Wyoming Cowboys (13-16, 6-10) ◄►
Last week Wyoming dropped a pair of games to UNLV and Colorado State. The two losses ran the losing streak to four games and made the Cowboys 1-7 in their last eight games.

Wyoming’s hot shooting on three-pointers earned the Pokes some early season wins. That hot shooting from distance has disappeared recently.

UW is shooting just 29.3% on three-pointers in their last three outings and were limited to 26.3% in the loss to CSU.

This week it will be a chance to right the ship as the Cowboys close out the regular season with a visit from Air Force before traveling to Fresno State in the finale.

9. Fresno State Bulldogs (11-18, 4-12) ◄►
Fresno State dropped a pair of games last week to Utah State and Nevada.

Despite the two losses, the Bulldogs looked much better in their outings last week than they did in the two weeks prior.

Fresno State was able to produce some offense against Utah State falling 77-73 before dropping an eight-point affair at Nevada.

The Bulldogs will end the regular season with two games this week traveling to New Mexico before closing things out with Wyoming at home. The Bulldogs have only won three of their last 14 trips to Albuquerque.

10. Air Force Falcons (9-19, 2-14) ◄►
Air Force failed to build on its one-point win at New Mexico dropping both games last week.

They were both double-digit defeats to the conference co-leaders. Things started with a 31-point loss at home to Boise State before falling by 12 at Utah State on Saturday.

This week it is a trip to Wyoming before finishing off the regular season at home against in-state rival Colorado State.

11. San Jose State Spartans (9-21, 2-15) ◄►
San Jose State’s losing streak has now reached five games following a pair of road losses at San Diego State and UNLV.

The Spartans kept things tight against the Aztecs before getting overwhelmed in the first half against the Rebels.

Alvaro Cardenas was a bright spot against UNLV as he scored 17 points while connecting on six of his nine field goal attempts.

The Spartans will close out the regular season hosting Utah State on Wednesday night. If SJSU can pull off the upset on senior night they could ruin the Aggies conference title hopes.

—More from Stephen Vilardo—