Mountain West Basketball: Predicting Each Team's Ceiling, Floor In '19-20

Mountain West Basketball: Predicting Each Team's Ceiling, Floor In '19-20

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Mountain West Basketball: Predicting Each Team's Ceiling, Floor In '19-20

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New Mexico

Ceiling: 25 wins, MW regular season title, contention for MW autobid
Floor: 13-15 wins, bottom four MW finish

There is no other team in the Mountain West with as much of a gap between its ceiling and floor this coming season. The Lobos could legitimately win the league title or finish in the conference’s bottom four and it wouldn’t be a major shock to anyone. New Mexico has a loaded roster from top to bottom but the defining factors come down to chemistry and if everything will mesh.

San Diego State

Ceiling: 23-25 wins, MW regular season title, NCAA Tournament victory
Floor: 17-20 wins, 5th-7th place MW finish

Brian Dutcher’s Aztecs teams have maintained a similar pattern through two years of starting the season slow before gaining momentum late to make a push for the Mountain West title game. The welcoming of backcourt transfer studs Malachi Flynn and K.J. Feagin should offset losing three of the team’s top four scorers. Joel Mensah and Jordan Schakel are breakout candidates.

San Jose State

Ceiling: 7-10 wins
Floor: Yikes

It’s hard to set any sort of substantive expectations when you lose your best two or three players year in and year out. Every double-digit scorer under Jean Prioleau has transferred. Things aren’t looking positive this year for the Spartans, which are 14-94 in league play since joining the Mountain West.

UNLV

Ceiling: 20 wins, top four MW finish, contention for MW autobid
Floor: 13-15 wins, bottom four MW finish

Expectations for T.J. Otzelberger and the Rebels figure to be sky-high in ’20-21. As for this coming season, the focus will be implementing a winnable system with a young core. UNLV figures to be fairly average after saying goodbye to three starters (not counting Shakur Juiston, who’s also gone). Otzelberger’s style should immediately catch traction in Vegas, though.

Utah State

Ceiling: 25-plus wins, MW regular season title, NCAA Tournament second weekend
Floor: 20 wins, top four MW finish, contention for MW autobid

With Neemias Queta back for year two, Utah State is a consensus top 20 team in way-too-early preseason polls. Queta and Sam Merrill are the league’s top duo and both could creep into the All-American conversation. The only major departure is Quinn Taylor, but it’s offset by JUCO transfer Alphonso Anderson and Sean Bairstow. Craig Smith‘s squad is loaded.

Wyoming

Ceiling: 15 wins, 5th-7th place MW finish
Floor: Also yikes

Justin James alone contributed over a third of Wyoming’s scoring and nearly half of the team’s assists last season. The Cowboys still finished 10th in the league and 317th in KenPom with the NBA Draft’s 40th overall pick. It’s hard to envision things being significantly better without him.

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.

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