San Diego State’s Jaedon LeDee comes away with a rebound with Nevada’s Nick Davidson chasing him during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Friday, Feb. 9, 2024, in Reno, Nev. (AP Photo/Andy Barron)

This week saw the “top six” I often refer to (Boise State, Colorado State, Nevada, New Mexico, San Diego State and Utah State) pushed a lot closer together after the first half of Mountain West play seemed to separate the teams out a bit. There are actually seven teams (UNLV the seventh, joining the other six mentioned) that, with just a few weeks left, have legitimate chances to win the regular season conference title.

So, let’s get it started again with another installment of Mountain West Watch.

Standings/AP Poll

Here’s the standings as they sit today, along with AP Poll ranks, if applicable (parenthesis for teams not in the top 25 itself, but receiving votes in the poll, the number being where they’d rank if you extended beyond 25th).

Rank Team Conf. Record Overall Record
1 (26) Utah State 8-3 20-4
T-2 (27) Colorado State 7-4 19-5
T-2 (34) New Mexico 7-4 19-5
T-2 (29) San Diego State 7-4 18-6
T-2 Boise State 7-4 16-8
T-6 (32) Nevada 6-4 19-5
T-6 UNLV 6-4 13-9
8 Wyoming 5-5 12-11
9 Fresno State 4-7 11-13
T-10 Air Force 1-10 8-13
T-10 San Jose State 1-10 8-14

The AP Poll didn’t treat the Mountain West all that kind, despite Nevada receiving far more votes in this week’s poll thanks to their fantastic week (more on that later). Utah State went 1-1, including a blowout win over Boise State (which got votes in last week’s poll) but still dropped out of the poll from No. 22 to essentially 26th. New Mexico and San Diego State, which were 25th and 24th in last week’s polls, respectively, had essentially zero wiggle room so with both teams dropping a game they both fell back.

Walker’s Mountain West Power Rankings

Here’s this week’s edition to my own power rankings for the conference, organized into four tiers. I’m not dead set on having four tiers (I momentarily considered removing a tier this week because of some movement between the tiers), that’s just the number I feel the conference can be divided into. If teams move into a new tier, it’ll be noted alongisde the number in parenthesis that indicates last week’s rank (also of note, teams can move up or down a tier but still not change their rank 1-11).

Tier 1 

1. San Diego State (2)

2. New Mexico (1)

3. Utah State (3) – moved from Tier 2

Tier 2

4. Nevada (6) – moved from Tier 3

5. Colorado State (5)

6. Boise State (4)

7. UNLV (7) – moved from Tier 3

Tier 3

8. Wyoming (8)

9. Fresno State (9) – moved from Tier 4

Tier 4

10. San Jose State (10)

11. Air Force (11)

It’s hard to make too many shifts in the rankings, especially when every one of my top three went 1-1 this week. But I think the real Aggies are a little closer to what we saw Saturday than on Tuesday against Nevada and should justify a jump up from Tier 2 and into Tier 1. I swapped the Lobos and Aztecs since I’m far more inclined to penalize New Mexico for a home loss to UNLV than SDSU a road loss (in overtime) to Nevada.

Nevada’s probably one more good week from being put not just in the top tier, but even within the top couple of teams in the conference (games against New Mexico and UNLV will continue to provide proving grounds). And while it feels like Colorado State should have a bigger jump (or a jump at all since I didn’t move them up a single spot), I’m not quite ready to move them up higher. A win over SDSU on Tuesday or defeating Utah State on Saturday, would do the trick, though.

At the bottom I’ve made a couple slight adjustments, not to rankings but to placement in tiers. UNLV remains the weirdest team in the conference, capable of defeating New Mexico on the road but also losing to Air Force at home. It really makes it hard to place them in any one tier, but the Rebels’ latest triumph deserves at the very least a move up the ladder into Tier 2, but their inconsistency keeps them at the bottom of that tier. And I’ve moved Fresno State to join Wyoming in the mediocrity of Tier 3.

Average Computer Ranks

Last week all of the up/down movement happened at the bottom, but this week there’s movement near the top. New Mexico and San Diego State aren’t moving off the top anytime soon, but the 4-6 range saw a little swapping. Colorado State and Utah State swapped spots as did Nevada and Boise State. This probably won’t be the last time this kind of thing happens. There’s not much separating the Aggies/Rams and Broncos/Wolf Pack so unless one of those four goes on a long win streak (unlikely in this conference) they’ll probably swap again. 

Biggest Risers


For the first time in program history, Nevada won back-to-back games against ranked opponents, defeating No. 22 Utah State and No. 24 San Diego State, the former being a road win in one of the most inhospitable environments in all of college basketball. Those two victories have salvaged a potential conference title run from the depths of what appeared to be heading toward a disastrous disappointment from expectations at the start of conference play. Exactly a week ago, the Wolf Pack were in eight place in the standings but this week are one win behind the four-way tie of second place.

A huge help in this rise has been a player who could have his own section here for biggest risers, forward Nick Davidson, who was honored as this week’s conference Player of the Week. He scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lift the Wolf Pack over Utah State, which at the time was his second straight 20/10 games (22 points, 11 rebounds against SJSU in the prior game). Probably the biggest jump in his game has been an increase in 3-point shooting. Davidson shot just 23 percent from long distance to start the year, but in his last three games he’s made 6 of 12 such attempts.

Colorado State

The Rams are a lot like Nevada in many ways, having risen quite high in non-conference play but then faltering during conference play. Colorado State lost four of six games between Jan. 6 and Jan. 27, including a rather embarrassing road loss at Wyoming. But since then, the Rams are 4-0 with wins over San Diego State and Boise State among those four. It’s not as impressive as Nevada’s run toward the top, but it’s a start and has pushed the Rams almost back into the AP Top 25 and into the aforementioned four-way tie for second.

As solid as the recent stretch has been, though, the Rams are being handed arguably the toughest three-game stretch on anyone’s conference slate — at SDSU, home against USU, and at New Mexico. Heck, you could even tack on having to go to UNLV and then host Nevada in the two games following that three-game stretch. It could get ugly if Colorado State doesn’t keep up its recent run of form.

Freshman Stars

Utah State men’s basketball guard, Mason Falslev dribbles the ball during the Aggies’ win over Boise State on Feb. 10, 2024

The Mountain West doesn’t usually have an abundance of freshman that produce at a top level, but this year is quite different. In the previous three seasons combined, there have been nine freshman to average at least seven points per game. This year alone, there are five — Dedan Thomas (12.5), JT Toppin (12.5), Mason Falslev (12.0), Tru Washington (8.1) and Cam Manyawu (7.1). Three of those players are every-night starters, two of which are on tops teams in the conference.

Just this last week we had two different freshman record 25-point games in massively important matchups. Thomas went for 25 points at New Mexico in UNLV’s win over the Lobos with Falslev also getting 25 in USU’s win over Boise State. And while Toppin wasn’t as much of a scorer as Falslev or Thomas, he still had five blocks and 12 rebounds in that New Mexico/UNLV contest.

Biggest Fallers

Boise State

If there’s an award I can give out for most times appearing in either the risers or fallers section of this series, it’s gonna go to Boise State. Two weeks ago Broncos point guard Max Rice was in the fallers section, part of a rough week for the Broncos where they lost to Utah State at home and dropped from a first place tie. Then Boise State went on to beat New Mexico in The Pit and then blast Air Force, leading to the Broncos being featured last week as one of the biggest risers. And now this past week, BSU went 0-2, failing to capitalize on a chance at sole possession of first place.

The good news for the Broncos is that their next four games are a chance to regroup and prepare for a gauntlet final three games. Boise State will face the bottom four teams in the standings (Fresno State, SJSU, Wyoming and Air Force) as its next four games so there’s every chance to pick up wins and sneak up on teams at the top of the standings that will be beating up on each other.

Home Court Advantages

Utah State’s bench during the Aggies loss to Nevada on Feb. 6, 2024

The aura of invincibility surrounding Mountain West home courts is slowly fading. Where once, through several weeks, maybe one or two of the conference’s top teams had lost at home, the list is considerably longer. Boise State, Utah State and New Mexico — owners of three of the best home venues in the conference — have all dropped a home game, as has Nevada. San Diego State and Colorado State remain the only teams in the conference to be undefeated at home, but both are going to get severely tested. The Aztecs host both the Rams and Lobos this week while the Rams still have yet to host USU and Nevada in the coming days.


Here’s the most recent update from, from Feb. 10. It’s largely reflective of the rise of Nevada and Colorado State (CSU moving up to a six seed and Nevada going from being in seven brackets to 38) with the small slip of Utah State (falling from a six to seven seed). Updates prior to last week helped Boise State jump all the way to an eight seed (last week’s update had the Broncos as a 10 seed) but there’s likely to be a drop after back-to-back losses.

In the Tournament

  • San Diego State – 5 seed (in all 101 brackets on the database)

  • Colorado State – 6 seed (101/101)
  • Utah State – 7 seed (100/101)

  • New Mexico – 7 seed (101/101)

  • Boise State – 8 seed (100/101)

Outside Looking In

  • Nevada – First Four Out (38/101)

End of Season Awards Ladder

While there are a lot more changes this week, I’m a little disappointed to say that the number one spots for each of these have all stayed the same. The main issue is that three of these awards (DPOY, NOTY, COTY) could all pretty much be handed out now for all the likelihood the frontrunner will lose the eventual race. But there are still a couple races worth keeping an eye on as I think the winds are shifting in the Player and Freshman of the Year award races and the current frontrunners could be supplanted if things continue to shift.

Player of the Year

  1. Jaedon LeDee, SDSU (Last Week: 1)

  2. Isaiah Stevens, CSU (N/A)
  3. Great Osobor, USU (2)

Both Osobor and Jaelen House (who I dropped out of the top three this week) have had less impact the last few games. House is shooting 26.7 percent over his last three games, so despite still producing points in those games (16.3 per game in that span) it’s a lot of empty calorie scoring. Osobor has been largely efficient (4 of 11 game against the Broncos notwithstanding) but just hasn’t produced the numbers he was earlier. It’s not like either House or Osobor is playing awful, they’re just not quite where they’ve been at other times this year.

Stevens gets the nod over Osobor and House right now because he’s seen an uptick the last couple weeks. He was always sitting just barely on the outside but his upward trend that’s helped the Rams jump back into the title race is a good excuse to move him up into the top three.

I’ve said a lot to justify the second and third spots so I’ll just say that for LeDee, he’s not had the dip of Osobor and House, and with the Aztecs still sitting toward the top of the standings, there’s no reason to move him down. For now. LeDee will need to defend his title rigorously in the coming days.

Defensive Player of the Year

  1. Jaelen House, UNM (1)

  2. JT Toppin, UNM (3)
  3. Nique Clifford, CSU (N/A)

There’s not really anyone threatening House’s claim for DPOY, but I can’t diminish the impact of Clifford’s defense any longer by holding him out of the top three. I wouldn’t put him above Toppin, who continues to be a shot-blocking menace, but it’s an impact that can’t be ignored for a Rams’ team on the rise.

Newcomer of the Year

  1. Great Osobor, USU (1)

  2. Nique Clifford (N/A)
  3. Darius Brown (N/A)

This ladder saw the biggest changes of any other with two new players in the top three. The major change comes mainly from poorer play from Ian Martinez and O’Mar Stanley (the two players that dropped out) and continued solid play from Clifford and Brown to move up. Clifford wasn’t a major scorer in the Rams’ last two wins, but filled the stat sheet regardless, with a double-double against SJSU (11 points, 11 rebounds) and nine total assists in two games.

Brown just had one of his best scoring games of the season and nearly missed out on a double-double himself with 18 points, nine rebounds and five assists against Boise State. The senior guard has actually been a curiously effective rebounder his last four games (reminder, he’s 6-foot-2), averaging exactly eight.

Freshman of the Year

  1. JT Toppin, UNM (1)

  2. Dedan Thomas Jr., UNLV (3)
  3. Mason Falslev, USU (2)
UNLV guard Dedan Thomas Jr dribbles the ball past New Mexico guard Jaelen House during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024, in Albuquerque, N.M. (AP Photo/Eric Draper)

While this award is probably still Toppin’s to lose, Falslev and Thomas are making this a race. the latter having won Freshman of the Week two times in a row and Falslev upping his game recently (mentioned above in concert with Thomas). What could end up changing things on this ladder is if the Lobos falter down the stretch. If they fall down the standings but Utah State and UNLV jump up, it’ll leave the door open for either Falslev or Thomas, especially if they keep up this kind of play.

Coach of the Year

  1. Danny Sprinkle, USU (1)

  2. Richard Pitino, UNM (2)

  3. Brian Dutcher, SDSU (N/A)

I moved Leon Rice into the top three last week after the Broncos surged but with two losses this last week I’m putting Dutcher back in third. It’s little more than window dressing, though, since this award should already have Sprinkle’s name engraved on it and sitting in a box waiting to be shipped to Logan.

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