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Friday, March 1, 2013
Conference Power Rankings: MWC

By Andy Katz

The Mountain West Conference has been the most consistent and reliable league the past two seasons for predicting NCAA tournament bids.

Four.

That could change if Boise State makes a late run, but the lock seems to be that the MWC will have four bids yet again.

On to the rankings:

1. New Mexico. The Lobos have answered every challenge. The losses to UNLV and San Diego State on the road didn't have any residual effect. UNM beat San Diego State and Colorado State in the past week as Kendall Williams likely cemented his spot as the Mountain West player of the year with his 46 points in the win at CSU. UNM finishes the regular season at Nevada and Air Force.

2. Colorado State. The Rams are still the most consistent team in the league, even though they hit a bit of a skid. They have the most experience and probably will be the least rattled once they get to the NCAA tournament. CSU has a tough go ahead with road games at Boise State, Wyoming and at home against Nevada.

3. UNLV. The Runnin' Rebels might be getting quality production from Khem Birch at the right time, as the Pitt transfer put up a double-double in Saturday's victory at Wyoming. UNLV has underachieved at times, but there is still plenty of talent and time for it to get back in gear and be a second-weekend NCAA tournament team. The Rebels finish with a game at Nevada, then head home for Boise State and Fresno State.

4. San Diego State. The Aztecs have been a bit of a tease this season. Jamaal Franklin has been productive and separated himself with his skills, but the rest of the team has largely been inconsistent. A nagging injury to Xavier Thames hasn't helped. The Aztecs finish with Air Force and at Boise State and could use some momentum.

5. Boise State. Boise State can control its destiny by winning games against Colorado State, at UNLV and at home against San Diego State. Take two of those three -- the home games -- and it would be tough to keep the Broncos out of the field.

6. Air Force. The Falcons are a legit postseason team. Air Force can improve its chances in its final games against Fresno State, San Diego State and New Mexico. Guard Michael Lyons will likely finish as a first-team all-MWC player.

7. Wyoming. The Pokes gave the league a valiant effort, but their conference-mates caught up to them. The Cowboys weren't able to get more than one signature victory (San Diego State) this season.

8. Nevada. The Wolf Pack has lost seven of eight games. Nevada can be a spoiler with games against UNLV, New Mexico and Colorado State before the tournament in Las Vegas.

9. Fresno State. The Bulldogs have improved overall, but losing five of their past six keeps them at the bottom of the rankings.