Men’s Hoops: MWC Power Rankings

By By Cody Brunner

By Cody Brunner

1.BYU (19-5, 8-1) Up next: UNLV 2/16

With merely three weeks left in conference play, BYU stands out as the team to beat. Having only lost once so far, the Cougars have been playing with a type of consistency that is rare in the MWC. But if the Y wants to retain its champion title, it’s going to have to show it can beat UNLV tomorrow. The Rebels already dominated them 70-49 in Las Vegas earlier this season.

2. New Mexico (19-6, 6-4) Up next: TCU 2/16

No team is hotter than the Lobos right now — they have beaten their last three opponents by an average 31.7 points. The catalyst of the streak? Look no further than senior swingman JR Giddens. He is averaging 25.3 points per game over the run. Most recently against SDSU, Giddens outdueled conference superstar Lorrenzo Wade with 22 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, two steals and four blocks.

3. UNLV (19-5, 8-2) Up next: @ BYU 2/16

The Rebels’ performance seems to be slipping lately. After losing to Utah on the road on February 6, UNLV has played two uninspiring games against CSU and Air Force at home. narrowly winning both. They will need their A game if they want to reclaim the top spot from the Cougars tomorrow as BYU has won the last 43 consecutive games at the Marriott Center.

4. Utah (14-8, 5-4) Up next: SDSU 2/16

“Slow and steady wins the race.” “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” There must be a thousand clichés that could be applied to Utah this season. The Utes seem to have figured out the winning formula as of late, collecting wins over UNLV, CSU and Air Force. Hopefully they still remember that formula after their bye week because they face SDSU, BYU and New Mexico over the next eight days.

5. SDSU (16-8, 6-4) Up next: @ Utah 2/16

Coaches around the conference must have been worried after the Aztecs started 4-0 in MWC play. Those same coaches are breathing much easier now that SDSU has proven it can’t handle the grind of conference play. Steve Fisher’s gang has lost four of its last six games and needed a buzzer-beater to skim by Colorado State. Yes, that Colorado State.

6. Wyoming (10-13, 3-7) Up next: @ Air Force 2/16

While I was interviewing a U coach one time (I?m not going to say whom), he told me that Wyoming was a pretty good team when they played well. At the time, I thought “No sh–, so is everybody else.” But then I realized that it applies to some teams more than others. The Cowboys got flat-out embarrassed by New Mexico last Saturday. But then they bounced back win a convincing 72-54 win over TCU on Wednesday. They’re pretty good when they play well.

7. Air Force (4-6, 12-11) Up next: Wyoming 2/16

The Falcons have competed in nearly every game they’ve played. But when you’re 4-6 in conference, that’s not much to take solace in. Tim Anderson and Co. have a chance to right their ship over the next eight days, as they take on Wyoming and New Mexico at home, and CSU on the road. Look for Andrew Henke to start assuming the go-to role as teams key on Anderson.

8. TCU (12-11, 4-6) Up next: @ New Mexico 2/16

I can’t quite figure out TCU. They’re good enough to beat New Mexico and San Diego State, but poor enough to get walked on by Wyoming. The Cowboys recently trounced them to the tune of 72-54. Still, guard Henry Salter is one of the best newcomers in the conference and the Horned Frogs? big three of Salter, Kevin Langford and Brent Hackett will keep them in games down the stretch.

9. CSU (0-10, 6-18) Up next @ TCU 2/20

Last Saturday, I was watching the Mtn.’s weekly men’s basketball round-up (I know, what an kickass life I have) and CSU head coach Tim Miles actually said that the Rams would need divine intervention? to beat the Rebels. Yes, it was true, but for the man who coaches the team on a daily basis to admit that is just awesome. I think that quote also sums up what the Rams will need if they are to get a single win in MWC play.