Friday, February 22, 2013
Conference Power Rankings: MWC
By Andy Katz
The Mountain West is in that period of the season when beating each other up can go one of two ways.
Either the selection committee will respect the overall play and be OK with a few losses by tournament-bound teams, or there will be less tolerance for losing away games to any of the teams at the bottom of the league.
Let's get to the rankings:
1. New Mexico. The Lobos' bigs are starting to be much more reliable. New Mexico can take a major step toward icing the regular-season title with games upcoming at Colorado State and at home against San Diego State. The conference title is within reach.
2. UNLV. Well, well, well -- look at which team has popped back up toward the top of the rankings. The Runnin' Rebels had been one of the more disappointing teams in the country before finally getting their act together of late. They survived against Colorado State on Wednesday. Now the chore is to win games they should at Wyoming and Nevada.
3. Colorado State. The Rams slid back a spot after losing at UNLV but are getting consistent play out of Colton Iverson. Coach Larry Eustachy has a veteran team that isn't afraid of the moment and can still be in play for the title if it can beat New Mexico. Winning at Boise State and Wyoming will determine whether the Rams can find a way to get a piece of the title.
4. San Diego State. The Aztecs haven't been able to close out the games they should; the UNLV game is an example. San Diego State may be a prime example of a team that just needs to get out of playing the same teams. The Aztecs can still have a say in this race with the road game in Albuquerque and then hosting Air Force and going to Boise State.
5. Boise State. The Broncos moved back up the rankings after beating Air Force by 12. Boise State still has five games left to play and could finish pretty high based on its remaining schedule. But the stretch is brutal: playing Colorado State, going to UNLV and hosting San Diego State. I still contest the Broncos would be in play if they could get to third place.
6. Air Force. The Falcons may have the Mountain West Conference player of the year in Michael Lyons (see 45 points in a loss to Colorado State) but the Falcons have suddenly sunk a bit, losing four of their past five games. I still see the Falcons as a postseason team. Lyons has the ability to carry them.
7. Wyoming. The Pokes lost by 28 to San Diego State. But Wyoming can have a direct say in the top of the standings with games to come against UNLV, Air Force, at New Mexico and Colorado State. Wyoming was one of the last undefeated teams but now has to fight to get a postseason berth of some kind.
8. Fresno State. The Bulldogs won the head-to-head with Nevada. That gives the Bulldogs their most significant road win of the season. Fresno State also beat UNLV, and Nevada hasn't. Fresno State can be a spoiler down the stretch.
9. Nevada. The Wolf Pack are definitely the weakest in the league. Nevada's wins don't match Fresno State's. This is not how the Wolf Pack envisioned making a splash in the league to earn instant credibility and respect.