Nine Bold Mountain West Basketball Predictions For 2018-19 Season
Some bold predictions prior to Tuesday’s opening day
The 20th year of Mountain West basketball begins Tuesday
The new college basketball season tips off Tuesday night. Leading the way for the Mountain West on opening day is Nevada’s showdown against BYU at 8pm Pacific.
That’s when the fun begins, so we’re pumping out the remainder of our preseason content right now.
Nine bold Mountain West basketball predictions are below.
1. Wyoming’s Justin James scores 25 points a game
I’m confident about this one. James scored 18.9 points a night last year, making the 6-7 combo guard the conference’s leading returning scorer. Can he up that average to 25? I certainly think so. James’ usage percentage of 29.8 and shot rate of 31.1 both ranked in the top 75 nationally, even though the Cowboys had nearly three other double figure senior scorers (Hayden Dalton, Alan Herndon, and Lou Adams). When you combine James’ heavy usage, the team’s significant losses offensively, and the fact that Wyoming is pegged to finish top 10 in tempo (according to KenPom) this year, 25 points per game seems relatively attainable.
2. Justinian Jessup, Anthony Mathis, and Sam Merrill combine to make 350 three-pointers
There are few conferences with three elite perimeter shooters like the Mountain West. Boise State’s Justinian Jessup, New Mexico’s Anthony Mathis, and Utah State’s Sam Merrill lead the way, converting 286 of their combined 615 attempts from downtown last year – good for 46.5 percent. Don’t be surprised if the talented trio sets the bar again in ’18-19 and surpasses 350 combined three-pointers.
3. New Mexico is the Mountain West’s final undefeated team
What? Not Nevada? Nope. New Mexico is the sole Mountain West squad not participating in an early season MTE and the Lobos could cruise through non-conference play if things click early. UNM’s toughest tests prior to January are its two games with New Mexico State (home and away), a matchup with Saint Mary’s in Los Angeles, and Colorado at The Pit.
Nevada and San Diego State, however, have a number of hurdles to overcome. The Wolf Pack hosts capable mid-majors in BYU and South Dakota State and play Loyola Chicago, USC, and Arizona State all away from Reno. Unless SDSU wins a stacked Maui Invitational – which includes an opening round showdown against No. 4 Duke – the Aztecs will also have an early blemish as well.