Mountain West: Power Rankings
1. San Diego State (12-2, 0-0)
This week: At Fresno State (Wednesday) and vs. Colorado State (Saturday).
Aztecs point guard Xavier Thames is a game-time decision for the game at Fresno State.
SDSU has only one good win (vs. UCLA) with USC not meeting expectations. But the Aztecs were a Nick Johnson blocked lay-up away from defeating No. 4 Arizona at the Diamond Head Classic. Their other loss came against No. 7 Syracuse.
"We have a nice blend of veterans starting with Jamaal Franklin, reigning player of the year; Chase Tapley, four-year starter; James Rahon, fifth-year senior; Xavier Thames, point guard, who has done a masterful job for us as a redshirt junior," SDSU head coach Steve Fisher said of his team in the weekly Mountain West Conference teleconference. "So we have a good blend of youth and experience."
2. New Mexico (13-2, 0-0)
This week: Home vs. New Mexico (Wednesday) and vs. Fresno State (Saturday).
The Lobos have lost two of their last three games to two possible tourney teams in South Dakota State and Saint Louis. Their last win was a one-point victory at No. 8 Cincinnati. 7-foot-0 sophomore Alex Kirk has been a nice surprise so far, played a major factor in the win against the Bearcats.
"We are anxious to get back to playing again," New Mexico head coach Steve Alford said. "We are going to end up having 8-9 days in-between games so our guys have done a tremendous job in the toughest non-conference UNM has ever had. To be sitting (13-2) we are obviously very, very pleased. Eager to start the defense of our championship."
3. UNLV (13-2, 0-0)
This week: At New Mexico (Wednesday) and vs. Air Force (Saturday).
Rebels head coach Dave Rice said he's unsure if Mike Moser will play Wednesday at New Mexico.
UNLV comes in at No. 3 due to their lack of quality wins. Their largest win of the season is a single point victory at California. Rebels could be the most talented team in the conference but the unit hasn't put all the new pieces together just yet.
"One of our best players, Mike Moser, was injured on December 9th so he hasn't played except for 12 minutes at North Carolina and Khem Birch joined us in the middle of the year so we have had a lot of different things going on," UNLV head coach Dave Rice said. "Having said that we are very pleased with the progress we have made. We have certainly made significant progress from the start of the season until now."
4. Wyoming (13-0, 0-0)
This week: Home vs. Boise State (Wednesday) and at Nevada (Saturday).
The largest surprise of all the Mountain West teams has to be Wyoming. The Cowboys have not lost through 13 matches with their best victory coming against Colorado. Will they be 15-0 heading into next week versus Fresno State and San Diego State?
5. Colorado State (13-2, 0-0)
This week: At San Diego State (Saturday).
CSU will have extra time to prepare for the nice trip out to San Diego. The Rams will challenge the Aztecs on the glass, as they are one of the best rebounding units in the nation. Expect they'll have a close eye on Wednesday's night SDSU vs. Fresno State game.
6. Boise State (12-2, 0-0)
This week: At Wyoming (Wednesday).
The Broncos travel to Laramie for their only game of the week. Boise State has done well on the road this season by almost upsetting Michigan State (74-70) and handing Creighton their only loss of the season.
7. Nevada (9-5, 0-0)
This week: At Air Force (Wednesday) and vs. Wyoming (Saturday).
The Wolf Pack is led by the great peremeter play of Malik Story and Deonte Burton but inside is where they have been getting crushed. Nevada doesn't have one player averaging more than 5.0 rebounds or 1.0 block per game.
8. Air Force (8-4, 0-0)
This week: Home vs. Nevada (Wednesday) and at UNLV (Saturday).
Senior Michael Lyons is averaging 19.6 points per game, second in the conference behind only UNLV freshman Anthony Bennett, and he'll need to continue that scoring beginning at home on Wednesday.
"We were picked last in the preseason poll so I think our players are taking that, saying that's not us," Air Force head coach Dave Pilipovich said. "That's not we are going to end up. It doesn't matter where we are picked in the preseason rather than where we finish at the end of the season."
9. Fresno State (6-7, 0-0)
This week: Home vs. San Diego State (Wednesday) and at New Mexico (Saturday).
Bulldogs will go through the gauntlet for their first two Mountain West Conference games with SDSU and UNM. The problem has been on the offensive end and this week the basket will not look any larger against two top-25 programs.
"The blend that we have had of new faces, some being young freshmen, one being a transfer along with veteran players returning we definitely had to try what combinations work better for us over the course of a non-conference schedule," Fresno State head coach Rodney Terry said. "I do think we learned a lot about our team. We played a tough non-conference schedule, one that helped us grow as a team."
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