Conference Power Rankings: MWC

January, 18, 2013
1/18/13
10:00
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The best news for the Mountain West came when San Diego State was brought back into the conference for next season. Now the MWC can settle back, celebrate that it is one of the best leagues in the country and focus on getting a record number of teams into the NCAA tournament.

To the rankings:

1. New Mexico. UNM is the only undefeated Mountain West team after winning in overtime Wednesday at Boise State. The Lobos might not be the most talented team in the league, but they still find ways to win and make winning plays late. They will get clipped here soon. But until then, New Mexico can't be knocked off the top perch.

2. UNLV. The Runnin' Rebels are a solid No. 2 after winning at San Diego State. Add Anthony Marshall to the host of options for the Rebels to lean on when the offense needs a spark. The win at Viejas will turn out to be one of the hardest to get this season for everyone else.

3. San Diego State. The Aztecs can't drop out of the top three with a home loss to UNLV. Jamaal Franklin was dominant with 27 points in the loss. Winston Shepard scored 18 off the bench. But SDSU was a brutal 3-of-19 from 3-point range -- and that's not going to cut it at home or on the road.

4. Colorado State. The Rams turned in the most dominating performance of the week with a 79-40 victory over Air Force. The Falcons were coming off a near-miss at UNLV, taking the Rebels to overtime before losing by five; the Rams had lost in overtime at San Diego State in their previous game. Coming into the season, the Rams represented the most experienced returning team in the MWC. To dismiss CSU as a real threat to win the league would be a mistake.

5. Boise State. The Broncos played the most important home game in years against the Lobos. Had Boise won, it could have made a play for a top-25 ranking. Still, BSU is a contender. Derrick Marks scored 27 points against UNM and will turn out to be one of the most prolific scorers in the league.

6. Wyoming. The Cowboys won at Nevada then lost at Fresno State in their two games last week. The national attention on the Luke Martinez fight didn't help the Pokes' image. Wyoming's offense was practically extinct in Fresno, going 5-of-27 on 3s, and shooting a brutal 24 percent against the Bulldogs. The free throw line wasn't much kinder, either, as the Pokes were 7-of-20.

7. Fresno State. Rodney Terry's club finally climbs out of the basement in the MWC rankings with the home victory over Wyoming. The win should help Terry get everyone on board in believing that he has this program going in the right direction. Fresno State's defense stifled Wyoming. The game was hardly an offensive display, but the Bulldogs dictated the outcome.

8. Air Force. The Falcons had a rough week, nearly upsetting UNLV before falling flat against Colorado State. Air Force's margin of error is so thin that when the Falcons go 3-of-19 from beyond the arc -- as they did against the Rams -- it's hard for them to win. Air Force can set Boise State back with a home win Saturday.

9. Nevada. The Wolf Pack simply cannot get into a groove. Nevada has lost three consecutive games, and its season really hinges on the next three. Nevada is at Fresno State, then hosts San Diego State and Boise State. If Nevada is ever going to make a move, the time is now.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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