College Basketball Betting Preview for Mountain West: How This Top-10 Conference Will Play Out
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- San Diego State won 14 straight games before the NCAA Tournament last season and once again will be one of the favorites in MWC.
- Keep an eye on Nevada, which returns Grant Sherfield, the preseason Player of the Year.
- Kyle Remillard previews the conference and breaks down every team.
The Mountain West Conference sent two teams to the NCAA Tournament last season, with San Diego State as a 6-seed and Utah State earning an at-large bid as an 11-seed.
Despite the Mountain West being a top-10 conference, the league hasn’t seen much success once entering the NCAA Tournament. The teams have a combined record of 22-51 once extending their seasons in March.
This year there are two tiers that separate the teams in the Mountain West: the contenders and the pretenders.
|Overall Record 2020-21||23-5|
|League Record 2020-21||14-3|
The Aztecs won 14 straight games (along with the Mountain West Tournament) heading into the NCAA Tournament last year. But the streak ended there, as the Syracuse zone ultimately doomed San Diego State’s postseason plans in the first round.
The program lost its top three scorers in Matt Mitchell, Jordan Schakel and Terrell Gomez from last year’s 23-5 squad.
That’s not to say this roster isn’t loaded with returning talent, though, as the starting lineup looks to be comprised of five seniors.
Cal transfer Matt Bradley will be the main offensive focus and will have an immediate impact for the Aztecs.
San Diego State leaned on its defense last year, as it ranked 21st nationally in efficiency, according to KenPom.
The unit allowed just 0.89 Points Per Play in Mountain West play and will likely recreate those numbers with 6-foot-10 Nathan Mensah returning for his senior season. The forward averaged 1.4 blocks per game and is one of the top rim protectors in the nation.
|Overall Record 2020-21||20-8|
|League Record 2020-21||14-4|
Colorado State has emerged as the trendy pick to win the conference as it returns everyone from a roster that went 14-4 last season.
The Rams are led by the one-two punch of David Roddy and Isaiah Stevens.
Roddy averaged 15.9 points and 9.4 rebounds per game last season and plays much bigger than his 6-foot-5 frame.
Stevens was a shifty guard who put up 15.3 points, 5.4 assists and 4.3 rebounds per contest.
Kendle Moore complements these two as the team’s top defender and outside shooter. He averaged 10.4 points per game in 2020-21.
The Rams’ offense was dominant, averaging 74 points per game while leading the Mountain West in offensive efficiency.
With all the pieces returning, they are one of the favorites to win the conference.
|Overall Record 2020-21||16-10|
|League Record 2020-21||10-7|
Steve Alford returns for his second year with the Wolf Pack after being a cash cow for bettors last year. Nevada finished 19-6 against the spread, covering the number 76% of the time.
The Wolf Pack return their entire starting lineup from last season, including two of the top scorers in the conference in Grant Sherfield and Desmond Cambridge.
Sherfield is the league’s Preseason Player of the Year after averaging 18.6 points and 6.1 assists per game last year in Alford’s pick-and-roll offense. His play elevated the game of Cambridge, who put up 16.4 points and 4.5 rebounds per contest.
The Wolf Pack own one of their most talented rosters in recent years and are a true threat to win the Mountain West this season.
|Overall Record 2020-21||19-9|
|League Record 2020-21||14-6|
The Derrick Alston Jr. era is officially over for Broncos’ fans after he was drafted 33rd overall in the NBA draft by the Utah Jazz. Alston Jr. averaged 17 points, four rebounds and two assists per game last season.
The Broncos return a starting lineup of all seniors that all averaged between 8-to-12 points per game in 2020-21.
However, they are still searching for someone to emerge as the go-to scorer when they need a bucket late in games. Abu Kigab and Emmanuel Akot are the top two options for the team at this point.
After starting last season 13-1, Boise State limped to the finish line, winning five of its final 14 contests.
Coach Leon Rice has eclipsed the 20-win mark in seven of his nine seasons with Boise State. If he’s there, the Broncos will always be a contender.
|Overall Record 2020-21||20-9|
|League Record 2020-21||15-4|
Utah State lost its head coach Craig Smith, along with its dominant rim protector in Neemias Queta, during the offseason.
The Aggies reloaded through the hiring of Ryan Odom from UMBC, who brings along two of his top players in RJ Eytle-Rock and Brandon Horvath.
Odom is one of the top basketball minds in the country and one of the strongest believers in analytics in basketball. He returns three starters from a team that went dancing last year, and adds another guard in Utah transfer Rylan Jones.
It may be an uphill challenge for Odom to recreate the success from last year’s team, but you can’t count out the Aggies because they are bringing back a bunch of experience.
UNLV and Fresno State are poised to show improvement from last season and won’t be the easiest of outs in conference play.
The Rebels are fortunate to have Bryce Hamilton returning, and are surrounding him with an onslaught of transfers. But with a new head coach and so many new pieces, they’re still on the outside looking in.
Fresno State is stuck in the middle of the conference. Last season, the Bulldogs went 9-2 against the pretenders and just 1-10 when matching up against the five contenders noted above.
Wyoming, New Mexico, San Jose State and Air Force are the lightweights of the conference that will be very little threat to any of the top teams.
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