Let freedom ring today folks! (NET rankings, Road wins - Home Losses)
1. San Diego State (NET 2, +4) - Easily the class of the league. The Aztecs continue to roll but... The absence of Nathan Mensah will catch up with them eventually. Probably not until the post-season though. With Mensah in the lineup they are a Final Four threat. Without him, they are second weekend material.
2. Utah State ((NET 83, 0) - After a solid OOC, the Aggies are leaking oil. After a mid-week bye, they looked to have found themselves in the first 36 minutes at Boise. Then a hurricane hit them and they succumbed in OT. They’ve played a lot of tough games. Look for them to make a bit of a move with an easier schedule on the horizon. While something doesnt look right, they still have Sam Merrill and Neemias Queta.
3. Nevada (NET 101, +1) - Hanging around in the top half. I’m not sure they have much more upside this season as there has been little to no development in their front court. Their guards, led by Jalen Harris, are dynamite. If Malachi Flynn wasnt in the MWC, Harris would be the current favorite for POY (sorry Sam).
4. Colorado State (NET 102, +1) - Nico Carvacho is starting to grab every rebound, freshmen Isaiah Stevens and David Roddy are improving every day, and the team defense is becoming a force. Four consecutive MWC wins, all by double digits, as the Rams are the hottest team in the MWC this side of San Diego.
5. UNLV (NET 137, +2) - The Rebels have played a relatively easy MWC schedule to date but, regardless, they are rolling. The transformation from a slow and soft team to a fast and physical one over the last month has been remarkable and they continue to improve. Bryce Hamilton has become a downright nasty scorer, averaging nearly 21 in MWC games.
6. Boise State (NET 114, 0) - My first disappointment so far. Undefeated at home, flat and winless on the road). Maybe the comeback win over Utah State will light a fire. At least they have a great story in Ray J Dennis. 15 points total in his 7 previous MWC games. Then 19 points in four minutes against Utah State. Storybook stuff.
7. New Mexico (NET 116, +1) - Technically I could place them ahead of Boise. But after pooping on the courts at Moby and the T&M this past week, they’re lucky to be this high. The loss of three starters has been devastating. CSU pounded the nails, UNLV lowered the coffin into the ground. If San Jose State wins in the PIT, they’ll be absolutely dead and buried. And Paul Weir wont be sayin “Everyone’s a Lobo.”
8. Air Force (NET 176, -1) - Some nights the Falcons look like they can beat anybody. Especially at home. Some nights the Falcons really struggle. All of this is due to the fact that they can shoot lights out but dont play very good defense. When they can shoot opponents out of the gym they win. When they don’t, they lose. Its as simple as that.
9. Fresno State (NET 154, -1) - Can a team this low be trending up? The answer is yes as Fresno has suffered from injuries to veterans and the growing pains of youth. The vets are now healthy and the kids are developing, especially big Orlando Robinson who is becoming a major inside scoring threat. Combine that with the perimeter shooting of New Williams and physical play and the Bulldog season is heading upward.
10. San Jose State (NET 248, -2) - Home wins over New Mexico and Nevada. A tough road loss at San Diego State. Coaches around the league will tell you that they are significantly improved. Thats coach speak for “Now we actually have to prepare for them.” Seneca Knight is having a nice year. But... Just because they’re no longer 300+ in NET doesnt mean that they’re any good.
11. Wyoming (NET 298, -5) - Sales of anti-depressant medication is on the rise at the Costco in Fort Collins as Poke fans make their way around. Allen Edwards is lucky to have a job after the absolutely lifeless performance of his team on Saturday vs Fresno where they fell behind by over 20 points. Edwards might as well put all his eggs into preparing for CSU in February. Jeff Linder anyone?