The first few weeks of the Mountain West basketball season have hardly gone according to script.
San Diego State, which earned 23-of-27 first-place votes in the league’s preseason poll, is 1-3 and looking for answers.
Nevada has won nine of its past 10 games but lost to Fresno State, and Boise State has surprised many as the lone team still undefeated in conference play.
UNLV defeated New Mexico at The Pit on Tuesday. That same UNLV team lost by 18 at home against Boise State.
We are in for a wild race to the finish. It’s still early, but here is how the conference stacks up after two weeks:
1. NEVADA (14-3, 3-1)
The Wolf Pack pulled off one of the most improbable comebacks in recent memory last weekend at New Mexico. Trailing by 14 points with about a minute remaining, Nevada nailed a barrage of threes to send the game to overtime. Jordan Caroline, who scored 45 points, banked in a game-winning 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds. Guard Marcus Marshall (20.7 points per game) is the biggest threat to Boise State’s Chandler Hutchison for Mountain West Player of the Year honors, at the moment.
NEXT: Saturday @ Wyoming
2. BOISE STATE (11-4, 4-0)
The Broncos have shown they can blow out teams and win nailbiters. Wins against UNLV and San Diego State were decided by a combined 30 points. Victories over Utah State and Colorado State came by a combined four points. Regardless of the manner, Boise State is getting it done. Matchups with Nevada on Jan. 25 (Boise) and Feb. 22 (Reno) are bound to be wild.
NEXT: Saturday @ Fresno State
3. COLORADO STATE (11-6, 3-1)
It isn’t always pretty, but coach Larry Eustachy’s Rams are in every game they play. Hutchison’s game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer is the only blemish on Colorado State’s conference record. The Rams’ league wins against UNLV, San Jose State and Air Force aren’t against premier teams, but they have won them by an average of 15.3 points.
NEXT: Saturday vs. New Mexico
4. SAN DIEGO STATE (9-7, 1-3)
The record isn’t pretty, but no one is giving up on the Aztecs. San Diego State isn’t as good as everyone thought they would be, but they aren’t “tied-for-last-place-in-the-conference” bad. Their three conference losses were by an average of seven points. They also still own the Mountain West’s best defense, allowing 63.6 points a game. Despite having the worst scoring offense in the league (69.9), the Aztecs are going to compete.
NEXT: Saturday vs. Utah State
5. NEW MEXICO (9-8, 2-3)
The Lobos, armed with preseason Mountain West Player of the Year Elijah Brown, started off conference play with wins over Fresno State and San Diego State. Since then, New Mexico has lost to Utah State, Nevada and UNLV. The Lobos led by 14 over Nevada with less than two minutes remaining and lost in overtime, and they led by six points at halftime against UNLV but were outscored by 11 in the second half. New Mexico is 3-4 in games decided by five points or less. Brown led New Mexico in scoring a season ago at 21.7 points per game, but his average has dipped to 17.1 this season.
NEXT: Saturday at Colorado State
6. FRESNO STATE (10-7, 2-3)
The Bulldogs are hard to figure out. They are the lone team to have taken down Nevada but have losses against New Mexico, San Jose State and Air Force. The defending Mountain West Tournament champions have the chance to make a statement Saturday when Boise State comes to town.
NEXT: Saturday vs. Boise State
7. WYOMING (12-5, 2-2)
From an overall win-loss perspective, the Cowboys look like they belong in the top half of the Mountain West. A closer look tells a different story. Though Wyoming almost defeated USC and beat Utah State on Wednesday, the Cowboys have only two wins over Division I teams with winning records.
NEXT: Saturday vs. Nevada
8. UTAH STATE (8-8, 2-3)
The Aggies almost pulled off a thrilling win at home against Boise State in their Mountain West opener and lost at Air Force by five points. Utah State then beat New Mexico and UNLV before losing to Wyoming on Wednesday. They play hard and have one of the best home-court advantages in the Mountain West, but the Aggies still have some work to do if they want to get into the upper echelon of the conference.
NEXT: Saturday at San Diego State
9. UNLV (9-9, 2-3)
Was Saturday’s victory at New Mexico a turning point for first-year head coach Marvin Menzies’ team? Given that the same Runnin’ Rebels team lost by 18 at home to Boise State a few days earlier, it’s possible. UNLV probably won’t go on a Cinderella run to the Mountain West championship, but they are ahead of schedule and on the right track.
NEXT: Tuesday vs. San Diego State
10. AIR FORCE (9-8, 2-2)
As was the case earlier in the season, the Falcons are prone to scoring and surrendering points in bunches. In eight wins before Wednesday’s victory over Fresno State, Air Force was scoring an average of 86 points per game. In eight losses, the Falcons surrender an average of 79.
NEXT: Saturday vs. San Jose State
11. SAN JOSE STATE (8-7, 1-3)
The good? The Spartans are a win away from tying last season’s win total. The bad? While former BSU assistant coach Dave Wojcik has San Jose State on the right track, the Spartans are probably a few years away from being serious competitors.
NEXT: Saturday @ Air Force
Boise State (11-4, 4-0 MW) at Fresno State (10-7, 2-3)
▪ When: 5 p.m. Saturday
▪ Where: Save Smart Center (15,596), Fresno, Calif.
▪ Radio: KBOI 670 AM (Bob Behler and Abe Jackson). Fans can also listen to the game at BroncoSports.com
▪ Broadcast: The game will be streamed live on the Mountain West Network.
▪ Did you know? No player on the Boise State roster has won at the Save Mart Center (the only Mountain West arena where no current Broncos have won). The Broncos did not play there last season and lost meetings in 2014 and 2015.