Mountain West Conference Power Rankings: December 14th Edition
As a whole, the MWC is off to a terrific start. None of the nine teams have a losing record. New Mexico, BYU, and UNLV are a combined 25-2.
The conference boasts victories over California, Texas A&M, Louisville, Arizona (twice), Arizona State, Illinois, and Michigan.
Preseason predictions may have had the MWC pegged as a potential one-bid league, but as the season progresses, it's looking more and more like a three or four-bid conference.
This year's inaugural MWC Basketball Power Rankings demonstrate some significant shuffling from the order of the preseason media poll.
9. Air Force (5-3)
The Air Force Falcons are 5-3, but their victories have all come at home. They have defeated Charleston Southern, North Carolina Central, Prairie View A&M, Western State, and Dickinson State.
In other words, they haven’t proven much yet.
The Falcons' performance at Washington State on Saturday was encouraging. Playing without leading scorer Grant Parker, Air Force gave the Cougars a scare but eventually fell by a score of 75-68.
Parker leads the Falcons in points, rebounds, and three point shooting.
Northern Arizona (3-5) will visit Air Force on Saturday.
8. Wyoming (5-4)
The Cowboys' active three-game winning streak keeps them out of the bottom spot. Their 2-4 start that preceded the win streak keeps them from being any higher.
Over the weekend, they handed Northern Colorado their second loss of the season, so perhaps good things are on the horizon.
Sophomore Afam Muojeke has played well and is an all-conference dark horse.
In order to move up, Wyoming needs to improve their long distance shooting. Their 21 percent accuracy beyond the arc is among the worst in the country.
The Cowboys have a massive opportunity on Tuesday as they’ll travel to Tennessee to take on the No. 8 Volunteers (7-1). They’ll then return home to take on South Dakota (6-4) on Sunday.
7. TCU (5-5)
The Horned Frogs have also had their ups and downs this year. They got off to a strong start, but have lost three of their last four.
TCU is still somewhat of a mystery, as their five wins came against teams with a combined 10-24 record, and their five losses came against teams with a combined 40-8 record.
Ronnie Moss and Zvonko Buljan lead the Horned Frogs and give TCU one of the best one-two punches in the MWC.
In their only contest of the week, the Horned Frogs will host St. Gregory’s Cavaliers, who are coming off a 95-57 loss to Arkansas Tech.
6. Utah (5-5)
The Utes are a tough team to figure out. They have impressive victories over Illinois and Michigan and head scratching losses to Seattle, Idaho, and Weber State.
Their Jekyll and Hyde act is what keeps them from cracking the top five, at least for now.
High-flying Junior Carlon Brown leads the team in scoring, and 7’3” Sophomore David Foster’s contributions (6.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 4.1 blocks) could increase as his role expands.
Utah will welcome a very solid Illinois State team (7-1) to the Huntsman Center on Saturday as they continue the search for consistency.
5. Colorado State (7-3)
Colorado State has been as pleasant a surprise as any MWC team. The Rams are 7-3 and all three losses came on the road against respectable opponents.
Their best wins are over Denver, Montana, and Colorado. While they lack head-turning victories, the Rams have been commendably steady and consistent.
Freshman guard Dorian Green leads Colorado State in points and assists.
In their only game of the week, the Rams will host Northern Arizona (3-5) on Sunday.
4. San Diego State (8-2)
The Aztecs got off to a slow start, but seem to have things turned around. Saturday’s pummeling of Arizona at home has San Diego State rolling on a five game winning streak.
Billy White leads a balanced attack with four Aztecs averaging double figures. Freshman phenom Kawhi Leonard is averaging a near double-double (9.9 points, 9.4 rebounds)
San Diego State is very strong defensively, and are the only MWC team holding opponents to an average of below 60 points per game.
The Aztecs face a tough road test on Saturday at Arizona State (7-3).
3. BYU (8-1)
The Cougars were the preseason favorite to take home the MWC crown. They’ll have more competition than many anticipated, but they look like conference title contenders once again.
BYU hasn’t faced a daunting schedule, but has a couple of nice wins over Bradley and Arizona State, both at home. The Cougars’ lone loss came in a hostile road environment, in a rivalry game, against a solid Utah State team.
Preseason MWC POY Jimmer Fredette has been terrific. He is among the conference leaders in points and assists, and is shooting a ridiculous percentage from the free throw line.
BYU will take on Wagner (1-7) and Eastern Washington (4-5) at the Marriot Center this week.
2. UNLV (7-1)
UNLV tasted defeat for the first time Saturday, courtesy of a red hot Kansas State squad.
The Rebels’ early season success is losing some of its luster. Victories over Louisville and Arizona, which looked solid at the time, are looking less and less impressive.
This is, however, a very deep and very talented team with an outstanding coach.
Guards Tre’Von Willis, Oscar Bellfield, and Derrick Jasper form the core of the best backcourt in the conference.
The Rebels travel to Cedar City, Utah to take on the SUU Thunderbirds (3-7) on Tuesday. They’ll return home to face Weber State (5-4) and USC Upstate (1-6) later in the week.
1. New Mexico (10-0)
No. 1 is a no-brainer. The Lobos are clearly the class of the conference right now.
No one is off to as hot a start as New Mexico. Steve Alford’s group is coming off back to back huge Saturdays, earning a solid home victory over California and a very impressive road win over Texas A&M.
Their success hasn’t gone unnoticed, as the Lobos vaulted into the top 25 this week, landing at No. 19 in both major polls.
New Mexico is led by the potent forward duo of Roman Martinez and Darington Hobson, who are both playing at an all-conference level.
Northern Arizona (3-5) and Creighton (3-5) will both visit Albuquerque this week.