Mountain West Conference: Sizing Up College Basketball’s Wackiest League

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Who could have known the additions of Nevada and Fresno State – ironically the two only vanilla storylines in the league this year – would set off such a tizzy in the MWC?

On the heels of a garden variety 2012 campaign, the Mountain West Conference is bubbling with excitement (and confusion) in its remade form. College basketball’s strongest league west of the Mississippi has become so jumbled that a current snapshot of its state appears either fake or erroneous.

See for yourself and try to make sense of this:

♦ Air Force, consensually picked to finish last in the preseason media poll, is tied with Colorado State in second place, just one game off the pace for first.

♦ UNLV and San Diego State, the two prohibitive league favorites, are tied for fourth.

♦ New Mexico lost double-double machine Drew Gordon – unquestionably the program’s best player in each of the previous two seasons – yet the Lobos, judging by record, have improved from the Gordon-led squads. What’s even more remarkable about New Mexico’s first place standing? Steve Alford’s crew owns only the sixth most efficient – or fourth least efficient – offense in the MWC.

♦ Wyoming blitzed into conference play at 13-0. Cowboy up! One month through the MWC wringer and Larry Shyatt’s team is 2-6, a mere half-game up on cellar-dweller Fresno State. Cowboy down.

♦ Boise State, picked eighth (second-to-last) in the conference, entered league play 12-2, toting a road win at Creighton, a home drubbing of LSU and near win at Michigan State. Not shabby for a team that lost 17 games a season ago.

♦ Air Force and Boise State own the second and third most efficient offenses in the MWC, respectively, just one year removed from having the league’s two least efficient scoring attacks.

♦ Colorado State is playing defense this year. And quite well. Seriously.

♦ How’s this for full circle? New Mexico lost to San Diego State, which lost to Wyoming, which lost to Boise State, which lost to Nevada, which lost to Air Force, which lost to UNLV, which lost to Colorado State, which lost to New Mexico.

♦ Mike Moser, the runner-up for conference preseason player of the year, is sixth on his own team in scoring and ninth in field goal percentage. Injuries have contributed to his struggles, sure, but a freaky elbow dislocation notwithstanding, has there been a bigger individual disappointment in college hoops than the Rebels “star” forward?

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