UNLV guard Luis Rodriguez (15) and guard Rob Whaley Jr. (5) celebrate after scoring against Colorado State during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Lucas Peltier)

There’s two weeks left in the Mountain West regular season so things are ramping up and the title race is getting ironed out. Movement can still happen should upsets crop up (we just saw that with New Mexico last weekend), so there are few assumptions that can be made.

So, with things beginning to come to an end, let’s get started again with another installment of Mountain West Watch.

Standings, AP Poll & Conference Tournament Seeds

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). I’ve left in ties in previous standings but this is how the seedings would sit if the tournament started today.

I’ve also taken the liberty of adding Barttorvik’s conference title odds, based off their advanced metrics, to these standings to give a picture of how things may pan out. The percentage listed is the odds of earning a share of the title, not necessarily winning it outright.

Rank Team Conf. Record Overall Record


Title Odds

1 #22 Utah State 10-4 22-5 78.6%
2 (42) Boise State 10-4 19-8 36.1%
3 #20 San Diego State 10-5 21-7 31.5%
4 (32) Nevada 9-5 22-6 7.1%
5 UNLV 9-5 16-10 6.3%
6 (35) New Mexico 9-6 21-7 0.0%
7 (33) Colorado State 8-7 20-8 0.0%
8 Wyoming 6-8 13-14 0.0%
9 Fresno State 4-10 11-16 0.0%
10 Air Force 2-12 9-17 0.0%
11 San Jose State 2-13 9-19 0.0%

A lot of action with the AP Poll as Utah State jumps after two weeks on the outside looking in, a rather large jump going from the mid-30s in “others receiving votes” all the way to No. 22. San Diego’s drop from losing to the Aggies was minimal, helped along by a blowout win over Fresno State. The Aztecs only dropped one stop from 19th to 20th.

If the MW Tournament Started Today

With the end of the season so close it’s time to throw another twist into this series, looking at which teams would face off in which games of the Mountain West Tournament. Being an 11-team bracket it’s a little convoluted, but here’s a look at the bracket itself.

So, if the conference tournament started today, here’s who would be playing who in the first and second rounds.

First Round Matchups

  • (8) Wyoming vs (9) Fresno State
  • (7) Colorado State vs (10) Air Force
  • (6) New Mexico vs (11) San Jose State

Second Round Matchups

  • (1) Utah State vs Winner of (8) Wyoming / (9) Fresno State
  • (4) Nevada vs (5) UNLV
  • (2) Boise State vs Winner of (7) Colorado State / (10) Air Force
  • (3) San Diego State vs Winner of (6) New Mexico / (11) San Jose State

Seeing teams like New Mexico and Colorado State — teams fairly recently ranked in the AP Poll — having to duke it out in the opening round is quite something to see. But that’s the nature of the Mountain West this year. There’s a lot of great teams so somebody is going to have to take the long road. It just means that there are essentially zero easy games for the teams that do earn a first-round bye. One can sympathize with Boise State and San Diego State for being tasked with facing CSU and UNM as their respective first games of the tournament.

Walker’s Mountain West Power Rankings

Here’s this week’s edition to my own four-tiered power rankings for the conference.

Tier 1 

1. San Diego State (1)

2. Utah State (2)

Tier 2

3. Boise State (6)

4. New Mexico (3)

5. Nevada (5)

6. UNLV (7)

7. Colorado State (4)

Tier 3

8. Wyoming (8)

9. Fresno State (9)

Tier 4

10. San Jose State (10)

11. Air Force (11)

For the first time in a while I’ve moved UNLV up inside the top seven instead of sitting at just seventh. It’s not just a gut reaction to the Rebels downing Colorado State, though, it’s mainly reflective of the last month where UNLV has lost just one game in the last 30 days. Basically, since their embarrassing loss to Air Force, the Rebels have lost just one game, a three point defeat at the hands of Nevada.

I considered moving Boise State up into the top tier, seeing as they are back tied for first place (albeit technically firmly in second since they lose the tiebreaker to Utah State), but I don’t have much of a reason to move them up. Sure, they’ve won their last three games (by at least 20 points in each outing) but those were against Fresno State, San Jose State and Wyoming. Basically, it’s been nearly a full month since the Broncos did something notable, beating New Mexico in The Pit back on Jan. 31.

Average Computer Ranks

Given how close Boise State, Nevada and Utah State were in last week’s computer rankings (all within 0.3) it’s no surprise there’s a shakeup in that 4-6 range. All three of those teams went undefeated last week, the Aggies just saw the lowest jump and so fall to sixth. San Diego State’s jump a relatively large 2.1 is curious since it lost once, but it does solidify the Aztecs as a clear No. 1 in this ranking, especially with New Mexico and Colorado State taking a tumble.

Biggest Risers

The Nevada-based teams

UNLV and Nevada are the two hottest teams in the conference, both having won at least six of their last seven games (UNLV’s can be stretch to seven wins in eight games). The Rebels stood as an enigma of the conference, capable of beating the best and losing to the worst, but they’ve proven to be a legitimate threat for the upcoming Mountain West Tournament. Recent wins over New Mexico and Colorado State only further justify the danger UNLV brings to what are now fellow top teams in the conference.

Nevada is essentially in the same boat as the Rebels. Earlier in the conference schedule, the Wolf Pack were in dire straits, having lost four games in five contests and dropping all the way to eighth in the standings. Since the last loss in that awful five-game span, Nevada has lost just once, a last-second defeat to New Mexico.

With a quality finish to the season, both UNLV and Nevada could be well positioned for a run at the conference tournament title, a coveted prize for both since Nevada is on the bubble and UNLV has zero chance at an at-large NCAA Tournament bid. Both will go into the MW Tournament hungry.

Utah State’s title odds

Utah State forward Karson Templin (24) celebrates with guard Mason Falslev during USU’s win over San Diego State on Feb. 20, 2024

The Aggies survived its six-game stretch that included five games against MW teams ranked 42nd or better in the NET (with a palate cleanser in the middle at Wyoming), going 3-3. That USU is still in first place after that stretch is massive and the regular season title is its to lose. The last four games of conference play include each of the bottom three teams capped by a home game against a reeling New Mexico team.

If Utah State wins three out of its next four games, it’s a virtual guarantee it’ll finish with a share of the regular season title, let alone winning out which would ensure sole possession of the title by the Aggies.

Biggest Fallers

New Mexico

New Mexico Head coach Richard Pitino reacts during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, in Albuquerque, N.M (AP Photo/Eric Draper)

Though featured last week in this same section, thing have only gotten worse for the Lobos. Less than a month ago, on Jan. 29, New Mexico arguably reached its peak. The AP poll ranked them 19th, largely thanks to the Lobos laying waste to a pair of ranked teams (then-19th San Diego State and then-16th Utah State) in The Pit. And with a 6-2 conference record, the path to the regular season title was very bright.

Since that moment, New Mexico is 3-4, having now fallen out of the title hunt and are trending toward the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble. And things will only get tougher to end the year as the Lobos must travel to Boise State and Utah State for two of their last three games.

Colorado State

The Rams own one of the most up-and-down seasons of any team in the Mountain West. They arguably had the highest peak in ranking 13th in the AP Poll, but since that moment have seen multiple declines bridged by a short win streak. Colorado State lost four out of six, then won four straight but are now sitting on three losses in four games once again. These last four games were a brutal stretch, facing SDSU, Utah State, New Mexico and UNLV, but for the Rams to win just one of those games is still a tough hit.

Luckily for Colorado State, the early-season heights should keep it in the tournament so long as it doesn’t completely collapse down the stretch (and even then, the Rams would probably still get in).

Fresno State

In a couple of instances, the Bulldogs have shown themselves to be somewhat capable of going toe-to-toe with the top teams in the conference, even recently with a narrow 67-65 loss to UNLV. But after getting pasted by Boise State (90-66) and San Diego State (73-41) and with injuries starting to pile up, Fresno State is in trouble. And things aren’t getting easier as the Bulldogs close the season with games against Utah State, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming. It’s very possible they end the regular season on a seven-game losing streak.


Here’s the most recent update from BracketMatrix.com, from Feb. 26.

In the Tournament

  • San Diego State – 4 seed (in all 107 brackets on the database)

  • Utah State – 7 seed (107/107)
  • Colorado State – 7 seed (107/107)

  • Boise State – 9 seed (107/107)
  • New Mexico -10 seed (103/107)

  • Nevada – 10 seed (107/107)

New Mexico is the team to watch in bracketology at this point. The loss to Air Force is obviously the worst loss of the season, it being a Quad 4 defeat, but it’s sitting on top of a Quad 3 loss and a pair of Quad 2 losses. It means that outside of Quad 1, the Lobos are 16-4, which is clearly good, but those four losses (and two in the Quad 3/4 range) are not a great thing to have on the resume. Despite that, New Mexico is still appearing on most brackets, mainly just moving down from an eight or nine seed to 10 so there’s still room for an at-large bid for the Lobos. 

End of Season Awards Ladder

There’s a lot more shaking and moving in this week’s Awards Ladder along with (finally) a change with the first-place spot in one of the categories. It’s not one I expected to eventually be changing (you could probably go back and find me saying it wouldn’t happen).

Player of the Year

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

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

I’ve swapped Osobor and Stevens, mostly as a response to the Aggies surging (with Osobor putting up one of his better performances this week) and Colorado State drooping a little (though it’s hard to pin any of that on Stevens himself).

Defensive Player of the Year

  1. Jaelen House, UNM (1)

  2. Lamont Butler, SDSU (N/A)
  3. JT Toppin, UNM (2)

Butler’s probably been overlooked by me, especially considering he’s the reigning MW DPOY, but we’ve seen so many other great defenders that he’s been lost in the fray a little bit. I’ve moved him up to number two with Toppin dropping a spot to third.

Newcomer of the Year

  1. Great Osobor, USU (1)

  2. Darius Brown (3)
  3. O’Mar Stanley (N/A)

Nique Clifford has dropped out with Stanley getting put back in after spending a few weeks on the outside looking in for this list. Brown gets the benefit of moving up to number two, giving the Aggies the top two newcomers to the conference, at least according to me.

Freshman of the Year

  1. Dedan Thomas Jr., UNLV (2)
  2. JT Toppin, UNM (1)

  3. Mason Falslev, USU (3)

This is where the change at number one has occurred. Toppin has been a virtually undisputed top candidate for this award for much of the season, and deservedly so. I just believe it’s now a true choice between Toppin and Thomas, not just Toppin and maybe someone else gets to win Freshman of the Week this time around.

Thomas has earned his way to the top here, leading the Rebels not as a role player, but the key cog in their seven-wins-in-eight-games stretch that’s been mentioned in three different sections now. Over the last month, Thomas is averaging nearly 16 points per game on 50/40/90 efficiency. He’s also still dishing out assists, averaging 4.0 per game in that same span.

Coach of the Year

  1. Danny Sprinkle, USU (1)

  2. Richard Pitino, UNM (2)

  3. Brian Dutcher, SDSU (3)

Sprinkle and Pitino were both honored in the dubiously necessary “Late Season Watch List” for the Naismith Coach of the Year award so there’s absolutely no reason to list them anywhere other than first and second, even with New Mexico suffering a bit of a decline in recent games. It just means that Sprinkle is all the more guaranteed to end up with this particular trophy.

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