Career W-L record (NCAA appearances): 23-9 (0) Previous ranking: 11th
Fresno State was egregiously snubbed of a postseason berth after going 23-9 and finishing 71st in KenPom. That’s no fault of Justin Hutson, though, the ‘18-19 Joe B. Hall award winner (given to the nation’s best rookie head coach). Hutson did inherit a strong roster led by senior starters Deshon Taylor, Braxton Huggins, and Sam Bittner, so he must find a way to climb a much taller hill next season. Achieving the 20-win benchmark again in year two would solidify Hutson as one of the Mountain West’s best head coaches.
4) Brian Dutcher, San Diego State
Career W-L record (NCAA appearances): 43-24 (1) Previous ranking: 4th
There’s a lot (both positive and negative) that can be said about what Brian Dutcher has done in two seasons after succeeding the legendary Steve Fisher. The reality of it is simple, though. Regardless of what you make of SDSU’s non-conference failures and league hiccups, twice have the Aztecs been put in win-and-in Mountain West title games in as many years. Has SDSU been elite, or even a consensus top three team in the conference over the past two seasons? No. There’s plenty reason to believe, however, that Dutcher and his staff can get San Diego State back to consistent top 25 status in the years to come.
3) Leon Rice, Boise State
Career W-L record (NCAA appearances): 178-116 (2) Previous ranking: 2nd
Leon Rice still, somehow, does not get enough credit for what he has accomplished in Boise. The ‘18-19 campaign – the worst of Rice’s tenure – is further proof why this is true. BSU fans were clearly distraught and disappointed with the Broncos’ 13-win season, which is understandable. However, prior to Rice, this type of season was the norm. In nine years under Rice, Boise State has recorded seven seasons of 20 wins or more. In the nine years before Rice’s arrival, it happened just twice. The 2015 Mountain West Coach of the Year has completely shifted the culture in Boise and the future remains bright for the Broncos.
Career W-L record (NCAA appearances): 107-62 (1) Previous ranking: 8th
Not even the most biased Utah State fans could have predicted the outcome of the ‘18-19 Aggies men’s basketball season. Pegged ninth in the preseason, Utah State shared the Mountain West regular season title and won the conference tournament with Sam Merrill being named player of the year and Neemias Queta taking both freshman and defensive player of the year honors. Merrill is set to return for his senior season in Logan leading an Aggie roster that looks to have plenty of depth behind the 21-point scorer (regardless of whether Queta turns pro). Don’t be surprised to see Utah State in the preseason top 25 and continue to hover around the AP poll so long as Smith is strolling the USU sidelines.
Career W-L record (NCAA appearances): 509-269 (11)
New face, same ranking among the Mountain West’s coaching ladder for Nevada. Steve Alford is now in Reno as the leader of the Wolf Pack after his mid-season ousting in Los Angeles with the UCLA Bruins. Hiring a fired head coach is never awesome, but Alford was a three-time Mountain West Coach of the Year with New Mexico, has 11 NCAA Tournaments and four Sweet 16 appearances, and has recruited a boatload of NBA talent. Alford easily has the best track record of any coach in the conference. It’s not even close.
Eli Boettger is the lead basketball writer at Mountain West Wire. He’s covered Mountain West basketball since 2015 and his work has been featured on Bleacher Report, NBC Sports, SB Nation, Yahoo Sports, MSN, and other platforms. Boettger is a current USBWA member.