The Mountain West Conference continues to be crazy at the top. Five of nine teams have played four games, and four of those five are 2-2. New Mexico is alone at the top (3-0) with Colorado State (2-1) right behind them. And guess which teams play on Wednesday? It will be a chance for the Lobos to take a two game lead over everyone.
But power rankings aren't necessarily about standings. Two of the Lobos wins have come against Boise State and Fresno State, who combine for a 2-5 record in conference. What I'm worried about is how well teams are playing. The Lobos currently have the lead, but is that projected to hold?
If you aren't familiar with efficiency margins, read the beginning of this.
We'll start with the offense. Here are the points per possession each team is scoring, adjusted for strength of opponent (dashed line is national average).
Colorado State (No. 16 nationally) and Boise State (No. 25) have borderline elite offenses, and then the rest of the conference fits into the 'good' category until you get to Nevada, which is average. Fresno State (No. 255) has bee really bad.
How about the defenses?
You can see why New Mexico is 3-0. Their offense is in the middle of the conference, but their defense has been stout. They come in at No. 23 nationally, which is just behind Wyoming at No. 18. There are stepping stones up to Nevada and Air Force, who are both below the national average.
How does this become a power ranking? It’s simple – we just look to efficiency margins. Offense minus defense. If you are a good team you score more than your opponent, right? How much more is the question. Here's the chart:
The power at the top of the conference is remarkable. There are six teams who could legitimately win it. Should Colorado State win on the road vs New Mexico, then they'll be in the driver's seat. If not, overcoming a 2-game will be hard, but this is the MWC after all, and there aren't many games which can be taken lightly.