Mountain West Notebook: Nevada rises to No. 9 in RPI
As of Tuesday morning, Nevada had the No. 9 ranking RPI among Division I schools, according to ESPN.com.
The Pack won its first eight games, four at home and four on the road. The 8-0 start was the best in school history since Nevada went to Division I. Nevada’s strength of schedule is 64.
San Diego State was ranked 33rd with a 66 strength of schedule, Boise State at 8-1 was ranked 39th in RPI with a 154 strength of schedule. Fresno State, 5-2, was at 72 and 183. Colorado State, 4-4, was fifth in the conference at 97 and 40. UNLV, 6-2, was 129th in RPI and 239 in strength of schedule.
Two big wins, besides Nevada’s wins over Rhode Island and Davidson, that helped the conference recently was when Boise State beat Oregon and Colorado State knocked off Colorado.
“The conference is better this year,” San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher said. “We have some opportunities to still win some good non-conference games and build a conference resume. Because once the conference starts, if our RPIs are all strong then there will be room to improve during the conference. So I think the conference has done a good job.”
Improving schedules was the No. 1 priority when MW Commissioner Craig Thompson talked to the media in October.
HUTCHISON NAMED POW
Boise State’s Chandler Hutchison was named the Mountain West Player of the Week for his efforts through Dec. 3.
Hutchison, who was briefly sidelined with a concussion, led the Broncos to wins over Loyola-Chicago, Oregon and Portland. He averaged 15 points, six assists and eight rebounds a contest. Against Portland, he recorded the first known triple-double in school history with 23 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in the 77-54 victory.
The Broncos, 8-1, are off to their best start since 2013-14.
FALCONS END STREAK
Air Force snapped a long road drought last week with a 61-59 win at Denver.
The Falcons snapped a 22-game true road losing streak dating back to a 67-60 win at UC Davis on Dec. 19, 2015.
Air Force’s last win away from home was an 83-68 victory over Wyoming in the opening round of last season’s MW Championships in Las Vegas.
Ryan Manning scored a game-high 19 points to mark the fifth time he has scored in double figures this season. Manning has led the team in scoring four times this season. His best effort was 20 against Arkansas Pine-Bluff.
UNLV RECRUITING PICKING UP
UNLV is one of the surprise teams in the MW this year, rolling up a 6-2 record.
The Rebels lost last week to Northern Iowa. It was also the Rebels’ first time out of the city limits.
UNLV, according to 247 Sports, signed local star Trey Woodbury of Clark to a national letter of intent on Nov. 8.
Also, the Rebels have received a commitment for 6-4 shooting guard Bryce Hamilton of Pasadena High School.
Obviously it’s early, but Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology has Nevada seeded seventh and playing in Charlotte against Florida State in the first round. In case you’re interested, the winner of that game would probably see Florida in the second round.
Florida State knocked off Florida earlier this week in a nonconference game.
KELL COMING BACK
San Diego State guard Trey Kell is expected to return to action against Cal this weekend.
“Trey Kell, again, has basically been shooting in a boot most of the week,” Dutcher said after the Aztecs’ 23-point win over Bradley on Sunday. “He tried to warm up again in case we needed him and wasn’t going to dress for the game, but I told him I wanted him dressed and on the exercise bike.
“He asked me, ‘In what circumstances would I play?’ And I said, ‘If we get a guard fouled out or injured, or if I need an emotional boost to the team, or if I need you to make a play down the stretch.’ None of those things happened today, so I let him sit the game, which was great for me. He needs the rest and I need him healthy going into Cal next week.”
Kell sprained his ankle against Washington State on Nov. 26 in a neutral-court loss.
CHALLENGE ENDS IN TIE
The annual Mountain West-Missouri Valley Conference Challenge ended in a 5-5 tie. The league office said the Mountain West has a 3-2-1 edge overall.