- Ky McKeon (plus Jim Root)
(Compare to our preseason preview here)
- New Mexico Comes out of No "Weir" - Nobody gave New Mexico much of a second thought in the preseason with brand new coach Paul Weir joining the fold with an almost entirely overhauled roster from 2016-17. Despite a shaky start, the Lobos streaked to five straight wins to end the conference regular season, surpassing their prior year win total and justifying the hire of Weir after he spent just one season as the head coach in Las Cruces. The Lobos were vaulted by transfers Antino Jackson (Akron) and Chris McNeal (WKU), and a break-out year from Anthony Mathis, who boasted the 3rd highest offensive rating in the entire country.
- Pack Mentality - Nevada cruised to its second straight MWC crown under Eric Musselman despite having one of the shortest benches in all of college basketball. Credit the super twins, Cody and Caleb Martin, and Jordan Caroline for carrying the lion's share of the load (and the minutes) for the Pack.
- Spartans Slide - Dave Wojcik appeared to finally have something brewing out in San Jose in 2016-17 when the Spartans finished the season with their best record in their short MWC tenure. But then Wojcik left the program amidst controversy and so did All-Conference performer Brandon Clarke. As a result, new coach Jean Prioleau was left with a rather bare cupboard and SJSU once again found itself in the basement of the Mountain West standings.
- Larry "LOL" Eustachy - Speaking of controversial coaches, Colorado State's (now former) head man Larry Eustachy got canned under scandalous circumstances of his own. The Rams stunned the league last season, going 13-5 behind NBA player Gian Clavell, but came crashing back down to Earth despite having a player named "Che Bob".
The MWC tips on Wednesday (3/7) from the Mack Center in beautiful Las Vegas, Nevada.
What to Watch:
Is the Mountain West a multi-bid league? It hasn't been since 2015, but this season offers a sliver of hope. Nevada is likely in no matter the result of the conference tournament, meaning a team like Boise State or San Diego State could play bid stealer for the 2018 NCAA Tournament. The Broncos of Boise likely need to make the final to have a shot at an at-large bid and even that may not be enough with their recent tumble down the stretch.
Will UNLV wake the hell up? The Rebels have lost five straight, but they're a team I would not want to play in the conference tournament. Marvin Menzies has arguably the most talented frontcourt in the league with Brandon McCoy and Shakur Juiston. Combine that with the fact the Tourney is held in Las Vegas, and the Runnin' Rebs could have a shot at playing Cinderella.
Who Will Win:
- Nevada - Every bubble team is rooting HARD for the Wolf Pack as a victory by any other team likely shrinks the bubble pool by one spot. The question for Pack will be how their legs hold up in a Tourney setting with a short bench.
If Not Them, Then:
Boise State - Chandler Hutchison is arguably the best player in the conference, and the Broncos fell just short in both their meetings with Nevada this season. Boise will get to avoid Fresno, San Diego State, UNLV, and Nevada with its position in the bracket - the Broncos previously took care of New Mexico twice this season.