Mountain West Conference 2013-2014 College Basketball Preview
The college basketball season is just a few short weeks away. It’s never too early to start doing your homework so you can beat up on the books from November all the way through March Madness. BangtheBook will be previewing all the major conferences over the next couple weeks. First up is the Mountain West. The Mountain West Conference might not be well-known for basketball, but bettors and basketball fans should pay attention, because there are some very good teams here. All odds listed are to win the conference and are from BetOnline.
New Mexico (+150)- New Mexico lost its coach (Steve Alford) in the offseason, but the Lobos return a lot of very talented players from last year’s team. Freshman Cullen Neal is the team’s top new player, and his dad Craig Neal is the team’s new coach. Alex Kirk is an underrated big man, and Kendall Williams is a great steadying force for the team at the point guard spot. Don’t forget that New Mexico’s “The Pit” is among the best home courts in all of college basketball.
UNLV Rebels (+175)- UNLV won 25 games last year and went to their fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament, but many believe this team underachieved. They lost Anthony Bennett in the offseason, who was the surprise number one pick in the NBA Draft. In fact, UNLV lost 70% of its scoring output from last year. Mike Moser and Katin Reinhardt both transferred during the offseason. UNLV gets big new help from Roscoe Smith, who started for UConn in 2011’s title season. The Rebels have a high upside potential, but there are a lot of question marks here.
Boise State (+300) The Boise State Broncos are known for their football prowess, but they’ll have a very good basketball team this year as well. Boise State made the NCAA Tournament last year, and it’s been 20 years since the team made the big dance in two straight seasons. They are expected to be playing in the NCAA Tournament again this year. Anthony Drmic is arguably the best player in the MWC right now, and Derrick Marks teams up with him to form the best one-two combination in the conference.
San Diego State (+800) Steve Fisher always gets a ton out of his team, so the Aztecs aren’t a team to overlook. Still, it looks like San Diego State has a rough road ahead of them this year. Jamaal Franklin was Mr. Everything for the team last year, but he is now in the NBA. Chase Tapley is gone as well and he was a four-year starter. Xavier Thames is a guy that Fisher is counting on to lead the team with defensive intensity this year. The Aztecs are always one of the best teams in basketball on the defensive end. Tulane transfer Josh Davis should be the team’s top scorer. This team is a few notches below the first three in this league.
The Rest of the Pack:
Utah State (+1,000) Stew Morrill is a very underrated coach, and the Aggies have a great home court advantage. They probably won’t win the league in their first year, but they’ll knock off some top teams. Keep an eye on this team.
Colorado State (+1,500) Colorado State replaces all five starters from last year’s team, and they are likely to be the team that experiences the biggest drop in wins in this conference.
Wyoming (+1,500) Wyoming will slow the game down all year and try to win with ball-control and defense. Think of the Cowboys as the West’s version of Wisconsin. There isn’t enough talent here though.
Fresno State (+2,000) Fresno State has been recruiting well the last couple years, so this is a team that might be a little better than most expect.
Nevada (+3,000) Deonte Burton is one of the best players in the conference, but there just isn’t enough help on the rest of this roster.
Air Force (+5,000) Air Force surprised a lot of people last year, but without star Michael Lyons this year I don’t expect much from this team. It will be a long year for the Falcons.
San Jose State (+7,500) Four seniors graduated and four players who had a lot of experience transferred. The Spartans will be the worst team in this conference.
Pick: New Mexico (+150)- The Lobos have the most depth and the least question marks. Look for them to win a highly-competitive Mountain West Conference.
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