Mountain West Men's Basketball Standings as of 1/27/2013
1. New Mexico 17-3, 4-1 MW
2. San Diego State 16-4, 4-2 MW .5 GB
3. Colorado State 16-4, 3-2 MW 1 GB
4. UNLV 16-4, 3-2 MW 1 GB
5. Air Force 12-6, 3-2 MW 1 GB
6. Boise State 14-5, 2-3 MW 2 GB
7. Nevada 11-8, 2-3 MW 2 GB
8. Wyoming 15-4, 2-4 MW 2.5 GB
9. Fresno State 7-12, 1-5 MW 3.5 GB
The Mountain West Conference is a mid-major no more.
Heading into Saturday's games, the MW was the second-best conference in terms of RPI, and now that those four games have concluded, we can see just how close the competition is in the wild West.
To start off the action, San Diego State hosted No. 15 New Mexico in the early afternoon. It was never close, as the Aztecs routed the Lobos 55-34, handing New Mexico their worst loss of the shot-clock era. The Lobos managed to make a mere 25 percent of their shots as the supposed best team in the conference looked lost Saturday night, falling in their first MW game of the season.
Then, Boise State was in Nevada for an afternoon game. The Wolfpack jumped out to an early lead, but Boise wrestled it back at 28-27 at halftime. In the second half though, Nevada ran away with the game when they went on a 10-0 run to push their lead to 50-41 and ended up winning 75-59. The Wolfpack had six players score at least eight points, four in double digits, and the second-worst team in the conference knocked off a supposed contender.
At the same time Nevada was beating Boise, Wyoming was hosting Air Force. And for a third time on the day, the team with the better record lost. The Cowboys seemed strong early, with Leonard Washington scoring 14 of his game-high 19 points in the first half, but the Falcons held the 29-25 lead at the break. Air Force pushed their lead to as much as 11 points with under four minutes remaining, though, Wyoming wouldn't quit and got it to 53-48 with two minutes to play. But the Cowboys turned the ball over, missed shots and committed fouls to eventually lose 57-48.
Finally, Colorado State was in California to play Fresno State in the nightcap. The Rams were determined to earn their first MW road win of the season, jumping out to a 16-8 lead and ballooning it to 38-20 at halftime with hot shooting from Wes Eikmeier and Greg Smith. In the second half, Fresno showed their resiliency, bringing the game to within five points with plenty of time, 10 minutes, to play. Colorado State did pull away in the end with clutch free throw shooting by Dorian Green and decent enough defense to win 74-63.
So, as of Sunday morning, five teams are within one game of leading the Mountain West. What an exciting and fun league it has become.