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Here’s how top 6 teams in MW men’s basketball have fared so far

Patrick+Cartier+gains+possession+of+the+ball+for+Colorado+State+University+in+the+opening+tipoff+at+the+CSU+mens+basketball+against+Boise+State+University+Feb.+6.+CSU+won+75-62.
Collegian | Ava Puglisi
Patrick Cartier gains possession of the ball for Colorado State University in the opening tipoff at the CSU men’s basketball against Boise State University Feb. 6. CSU won 75-62.

The Mountain West has become one of the top three conferences across NCAA men’s basketball. The Mountain West is one of five conferences that have at least four teams ranked in the top 35 NCAA NET rankings, the others being teams in the Big 12, Big Ten, Atlantic Coast Conference and Southeastern Conference — all of which are part of the Power Five.

Plain and simply put: The Mountain West has been an absolute blood fest just over halfway through conference play. 

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“With the additions of Clifford and Joel Scott, the Rams are going to be well in the running for the MW championship.”

1. New Mexico (19-4, 7-3 MW)

The Pit is real, and the Lobos are one of the hottest teams in the Mountain West. First-year player J.T. Toppin has been a force in the paint, and UNM might have the best backcourt in the entire conference.

Jamal Mashburn Jr. and Jaelen House are both averaging 15.5 points per game, and Donovan Dent is averaging 15.7 on 52% shooting.

The biggest fear for the Lobos is the free-throw line with the team only shooting 69%. At the beginning of the season, they weren’t looked at as a top-tier team, but the perspective on them has completely changed.

They very well could be the outright favorites to win the MW.

Best win: No. 16 Utah State

Worst loss: Boise State 

2. Utah State (19-4, 7-3 MW)

Utah State has recently been leading the conference. As of the most recent The Associated Press Top 25 Poll, the Aggies are the highest-ranked MW team, slotting in at No. 22. 

Coach Danny Sprinkle not only brought over two players who are now two of the top players in the conference from Montana State, but he has the rest of the team absolutely rolling.

Led by junior wing Great Osobor and fifth-year guard Darius Brown II, USU is looking like they could be one of the favorites to land in the MW Championship again. 

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Osobor has been a beast in the paint and is one of the most dominant players in the conference so far. Brown currently sits fifth in the nation in the assist-to-turnover ratio.

Osobor has been a serious problem on the block, averaging 18.7 points and 9.2 rebounds in his first season at Utah State. His one weakness is his outside game, but that doesn’t matter when he’s been dismantling opposing bigs like he has this season.

Best win: No. 13 CSU 

Worst loss: Bradley

3. San Diego State (18-5, 7-3 MW)

SDSU has been the cream of the crop when it comes to MW play. 

Last season, led by Jaedon LeDee, Lamont Butler and Nathan Mensah, the Aztecs made a Cinderella run all the way to the National Championship — the first time a MW team has done so. 

LeDee and Butler returned for the 2023-24 season, and SDSU is still very much in a position to repeat as MW champions. 

LeDee is not only one of the best defenders in the MW, but he also leads the league in scoring, averaging 20.0 points per game.

SDSU will likely slot in as the favorites come March, but the MW is their conference until someone knocks them off of the throne. 

Best win: No. 13 Gonzaga

Worst loss: Grand Canyon

4. Boise State (16-7, 7-3 MW)

After losing Marcus Shaver Jr., it didn’t feel like the Broncos were going to be back into the top echelon of the MW, but they seem to live at the top of the conference every year.

While the Broncos don’t feel like they have a player in the tiers of Jaedon LeDee, Osobor or Isaiah Stevens, they have a lot of players who contribute. 

Tyson Degenhart leads the Broncos in scoring, averaging 16.1 points per game, but the three players behind him also average double-digits. 

While Boise State hasn’t been ranked, they consistently receive votes in the AP poll.

Best win: No. 19 New Mexico

Worst loss: Butler

5. Colorado State (18-5, 6-4 MW)

The Rams burst onto the scene jumping as high as No. 13 in the AP poll. Led by Stevens and one of the best transfers in the league, Nique Clifford, the Rams have more or less locked themselves into a tournament spot.

While they’ve had their struggles in Mountain West play following the horrific loss against Wyoming, they seem to have gotten back into their groove.

Stevens is playing at an All-American level, averaging 16.6 points and seven assists. Stevens currently sits first in the entire nation in total assists and is the facilitator on the team with the second-best assist-to-turnover ratio in the MW.

With the additions of Clifford and Joel Scott, the Rams are going to be well in the running for the MW championship.

Best win: No. 8 Creighton

Worst loss: Wyoming 

6. Nevada (18-5, 5-4 MW)

The Wolf Pack rounds out the top six in the MW.

Jarod Lucas and Kenan Blackshear complete the elite back court Nevada has put together.

While Nevada has had its fair share of bad losses, they also have some impressive wins. If Lucas and Blackshear get hot, it becomes nearly impossible to beat them — something the Rams have witnessed firsthand.

Best win: TCU

Worst loss: Drake

Reach Damon Cook at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @dwcook2001.

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About the Contributor
Damon Cook, Sports Editor
Damon Cook is the 2023-24 sports editor for the The Collegian and has been at the paper since August 2022. He started doing coverage on volleyball and club sports before moving onto the women's basketball beat. He is in his third year and is completing his degree with a major in journalism and media communication and a minor in sports management. As The Collegian's sports editor, Cook reports on CSU sports and helps manage the sports desk and content throughout the week. After having a year to learn and improve, Cook will now get to be part of a new age under the sports desk. The desk moved on from all but one other person and will now enter into a new era. Damon started school as a construction management major looking to go in a completely different direction than journalism. After taking the year off during the COVID-19 pandemic, he quickly realized that construction wasn't for him. With sports and writing as passions, he finally decided to chase his dreams, with The Collegian helping him achieve that. He is most excited to bring the best and most in-depth sports coverage that The Collegian can provide.

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