Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mountain West Conference Preview


The Mountain West Conference was one of the most competitive and exciting in the country last season. It ended in a three-way tie for the regular-season title, with BYU, Utah and New Mexico all going 12-4 in conference play. San Diego State finished one game back at 11-5, with UNLV going 9-7 and finishing in fifth. Wyoming also had a solid season, going 18-12 and placing sixth in the standings. Utah emerged victorious in the conference tournament, but BYU also received a bid to the NCAA Tournament. UNLV, San Diego State and New Mexico were forced to settle for the NIT after residing on the bubble for most of the season. Wyoming was sent to the CBI. In the Big Dance, fifth-seeded Utah was upset by Arizona while BYU also lost, to Texas A&M. The league won't be as strong this season, but there are still several quality teams at the top.

1. BYU: Despite the loss off Lee Cummard, the two best players in the league still reside in Provo -- guard Jimmer Fredette and swingman Jonathan Tavarnari. Prediction: NCAA
2. San Diego State: The Aztecs will be built around returnee Billy White and several newcomers, namely freshman Kawhi Leonard and transfers Tyrone Shelley and Malcolm Thomas. Prediction: NCAA

3. UNLV: The Runnin' Rebels get the services of transfers Derrick Jasper (Kentucky) and Chace Stanback (UCLA), and guard Tre'Von Willis is all-conference material. Prediction: NIT
4. New Mexico: With their top three scorers gone, the Lobos are going to have to rely on the guard tandem of Dairese Gary and Roman Martinez. Prediction: CBI/CIT
5. Utah: Player of the Year Luke Nevill has departed, as have three other double-figure scorers. Guards Carlon Brown and Luka Drca are the top returnees. Prediction: CBI/CIT

6. Wyoming: Brandon Ewing and Sean Ogirri are both gone, but New Mexico State transfer JayDee Luster and forward Afam Muojeke are a solid tandem. Prediction: No Postseason
7. TCU: The Horned Frogs could be a potential sleeper this season, as big man Zvonko Buljan leads a quality returning core that is a year better. Prediction: No Postseason

8. Colorado State: The Rams have several solid role players, but they need a few to step up and become go-to-guys if they are going to move up. Prediction: No Postseason
9. Air Force: After going winless in Mountain West play last season, the Falcons lose four starters and will undoubtedly stay in the league cellar. Prediction: No Postseason

Player of the Year: Jimmer Fredette, G, BYU

All-Conference Team:
G- Jimme Fredette, BYU 
G- Tre'Von Willis, UNLV
F- Afam Muojeke, Wyoming
F- Jonathan Tavernari, BYU
F/C- Zvonko Buljan, TCU 

Second Team:
G- Derrick Jasper, UNLV
G- Tyrone Shelley, San Diego State
G- Carlon Brown, Utah 
G/F- Roman Martinez, New Mexico 
F- Billy White, San Diego State

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