Fourth edition of the MWC Power Rankings by AztecReport.com.
1. San Diego State (16-4, 3-2)
This week: At Air Force (Saturday).
Aztecs followed up losses to UNLV and Wyoming with back-to-back 21-point victories over Nevada and New Mexico. Forward J.J. O'Brien earned Mountain West Player of the Week after an impressive performance on Saturday afternoon. The loss to the Cowboys could be looked at as a season changer. The team seems more focused on and off the court. Fisher will need his guys to keep that mindset during the week off.
"We feel a lot better about ourselves this week as opposed to a week ago today," SDSU head coach Steve Fisher said. "Winning is a magic cure all for all of us. We found a way to get two wins. I believe probably the rest of the pack is happy that New Mexico is still not undeafted. It now appears there is a conference race."
2. New Mexico (17-3, 4-1)
This week: At Wyoming (Wednesday) and vs. Nevada (Saturday).
Things were going so well for the Lobos before entering Viejas Arena on Saturday afternoon then New Mexico scored 34 points and was blown out by 21 by the Aztecs. They will now face the offensively challenged Cowboys in Laramie, WY. UNM will look to build upon their conference lead.
"We had a very challenging week as every week in this league is challenging," UNM head coach Steve Alford said. "Played Colorado State and San Diego State so gained a split out of it. Did not play particular well on Saturday. I thought State had an awful lot to deal with that… It continues to get tougher and continue to improve like all teams."
3. Colorado State (16-4, 3-2)
This week: Home vs. Boise State (Wednesday) and vs. Wyoming (Saturday).
The Rams will head home for two matches after splitting away games against UNM and Fresno State. It's looking like it will be a positive week for Colorado State as they have won 24 straight at Moby Arena.
"But the secret to this home court… It's a real easy formula, great fans and great players" CSU head coach Larry Eustachy said. "It starts and ends there. We have won games here that probably would have been lost if it wasn't for the crowd pulling for the players. It's huge."
4. UNLV (16-4, 3-2)
This week: Home vs. Nevada (Tuesday) and at Boise State (Saturday).
It was a quiet seven days for the Rebels who only played Wyoming (62-50 win). The extra practice time should help a team with so many new parts. Positive news for UNLV is they have already traveled to SDSU, UNM and CSU. Coach Rice looks to have this team ready to make a run.
"We understand the challenge of playing a very good Nevada Wolf Pack team Tuesday night," UNLV head coach Dave Rice said. "Their guards are as good as anybody's in the country. Burton and Story are fantastic and Evans is playing well. They got a fantastic win on Saturday against a very, very good Boise State team. So we know our hands will be full on Tuesday and not even thinking about Saturday."
5. Air Force (12-6, 3-2)
This week: Home vs. Fresno State (Wednesday) and vs. SDSU (Saturday).
So far the Falcons have lost to UNLV and Colorado State on the road but won the "50-50" games: Nevada, Boise State and at Wyoming. Add a non-conference victory over New Orleans to add to their current three game-winning streak. Air Force is getting it done on the offensive end with two games of 90+ points. The new up-tempo style is allowing senior Michael Lyons to score 18.2 points per contest.
"It was very important," Air Force head coach Dave Pilipovich said of last year's victory over SDSU. "It was a monumental win for us. It was the highest ranked team we've beaten. That was very big."
6. Wyoming (15-4, 2-4)
This week: Home vs. New Mexico (Wednesday) and at Colorado State (Saturday).
While San Diego State has turned the corner since the loss against Wyoming, the Cowboys have gone in the other direction with back-to-back losses to UNLV and Air Force. It's a do or die week for Wyoming and things aren't looking good.
"We did slip this weekend in terms of the final scores but I actually thought we played pretty hard and pretty together, both against Vegas and Air Force," Wyoming head coach Larry Shyatt said. "It appears our defensive numbers, unlike last year, are remaining pretty strong and it's pretty obvious the last seven games that we haven't shot the ball well. That's an understatement."
7. Nevada (11-8, 2-3)
This week: At UNLV (Tuesday) and at New Mexico (Saturday).
The Wolf Pack ran into a desperate SDSU team on Wednesday but came back strong later in the week to win decisively against Boise State. Nevada will have one of the hardest schedules in the nation this week with stops to the "Pit" and the Thomas & Mack Center.
"We didn't play well in the second half against San Diego State who are very, very good," Nevada head coach David Carter. "I thought they came in and did what we thought they were going to do. They played with determination and urgency to get another win. Then we bounced back against Boise and I thought that was a good sign for us as a team."
8. Boise State (14-5, 2-3)
This week: At Colorado State (Wednesday) and vs. UNLV (Saturday).
The Broncos were (12-2) before pulling off a buzzer-beater victory at Wyoming to open conference play. What a distance memory for Boise State fans. The team has lost three of four and now has to play two of the leagues power teams. Another team hanging by a string… Here come the scissors.
9. Fresno State (7-12, 1-5)
This week: At Air Force (Wednesday).
Most will look at the Bulldogs record and think they are playing horribly but Rodney Terry has his young squad playing competitive basketball. The main problem has been their inability to score. Fresno State is only averaging 60.8 points per game which is 310th in the nation.
"It's extremely hard to prepare for a team that does a good job in the half court and now they can score in transition," FSU head coach Rodney Terry said on how to prepare for Air Force. "Having older players that have had a chance to run their system for a number of years who can really score. (Michael) Lyons is one of the top scorers in the league, (Mike) Fitzgerald is having a great conference slate as well. But them being able to score in transition puts a lot of pressure to have your team get back and then also get back to guard their Princeton offense in the half court. It puts a lot of pressure on your defense."
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