College basketball power rankings: UCLA moves up to No. 1 thanks to 13-game winning streak; Virginia joins
“The Mountain West is having one of its best seasons in its 23-year history.”
It’s a sentence I wrote in February of last year.
In 2022-23, the league is even better. Like last season, the conference ranks seventh overall on KenPom.com. The last time the MW ranked higher was in 2012-13, when the league sent five of its then nine teams to the dance. Five teams — Boise State (19), New Mexico (31), Nevada (33), San Diego State (30), Utah State (34) — rank in the NET’s top 35. Additionally, the conference ranks fifth in the NET, better than the Pac-12 and ACC. With a 99-39 overall mark in non-league games, Mountain West secured itself a multi-candidate league again; it’s just a matter of which teams’ CVs are shaking to justify general inclusion in two months. The MW boasts nine wins over the Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC.
Additional encouraging signs can be found in places like the Air Force (12-7), which is attempting its first 20-win season since 2007, and San Jose State (12-7), which is above .500 in January for the first time as a Mountain West school (joined in 2013). Tim Miles has transformed a once depressing program.
This is a time of optimism in the conference. Gloria Navarez has just taken up her duties as commissioner after leading the WCC since 2018. She is the second commissioner in Mountain West history; Craig Thompson held the position from day one in 1998, when the league formed after splitting from the WAC.
With six teams in the NET’s top 80, the Mountain West affords itself dozens of Quad 1/2 games, allowing the conference to almost certainly send at least three to the Big Dance. However, simply getting that many will not be satisfying. There is a reputation to repair. The MW went 0-4 after securing four teams in last year’s NCAA. There hasn’t been a Sweet 16 team since 2018. If its image is to be improved — and validated — several Mountain West teams need to pick up wins in March.
The Power Rankings have had at least one Mountain West team featured in almost every edition this season, and that remains true this week. We’ll take a look.
Ranking Hey Nineteen Power
Reminder: My rankings are not just about those I consider the “best”. This is a weekly encapsulation of the 19 hottest, most successful and/or most *interesting* teams, combining team quality with winning quality, but also having no shame for recency bias and rewarding significant winning streaks. All records displayed are against the DI competition.