Mountain West Basketball: Predicting Each Team’s Ceiling, Floor In ’19-20
Predicting the ceiling and floor for each Mountain West team in ’19-20
Each MW team’s ceiling and floor in ’19-20
One of the highly-debated topics of the offseason is predicting each team’s best- and worst-case scenarios for the upcoming season.
Following a season where Utah State – picked ninth in the preseason poll – shared the regular season title and won the conference title and San Diego State and New Mexico – picked second and third, respectively – combined to finish .500 in league play, it’s anyone’s guess as to what could happen in ’19-20.
Nevertheless, here’s my attempt at predicting each team’s ceiling and floor this coming season.
Ceiling: 20-plus wins, top four MW finish, contention for MW autobid
Floor: 10 wins, bottom four MW finish
You won’t hear about the Falcons outside of MW circles, but Dave Pilipovich’s team could be really, really good next year. Air Force returns basically everyone from last season’s sixth-place team. Lavelle Scottie (15.3 PPG, 5.6 RPG) and Ryan Swan (12.6 PPG, 7.1 RPG) are the conference’s best frontcourt duo.
Ceiling: 25 wins, MW regular season title, contention for MW autobid
Floor: 15-17 wins, bottom half MW finish
After a rare down season, Leon Rice and the Broncos are back in the swing of things. The team’s top four scorers return and Boise State also adds big-time former recruits and Pac-12 transfers in Emmanuel Akot and Abu Kigab, pending NCAA’s eligibility approval. This squad could be scary come February and March.
Ceiling: 15-17 wins, top half MW finish
Floor: 10-13 wins, bottom four MW finish
With a bevy of transfers and recruits committing in recent weeks, CSU seems to be building towards a strong ’20-21 campaign. As for ’19-20, the Rams will need to significantly improve their defensive effort (Colorado State was 261st in defensive efficiency last season) to build upon last year’s 7-11 league record. Nico Carvacho is one of the best big men in league history.
Ceiling: 20-23 wins, top four MW finish, contention for MW autobid
Floor: 15 wins, bottom half MW finish
Justin Hutson faces an uphill battle after having lost a pair of 18-points-per-game scorers in Braxton Huggins and Deshon Taylor as well as three-point specialist Sam Bittner. Neither a top four finish nor a bottom half finish would be a surprise to me for the Bulldogs in ’19-20. The losses are big, but Fresno State’s returning core and newcomers are a solid bunch.
Ceiling: 23-25 wins, MW regular season title, contention for MW autobid
Floor: 15-17 wins, 5th-7th place MW finish
The first year of the post-Eric Musselman era will be an interesting one. The Wolf Pack’s entire senior-led starting lineup is gone, but Steve Alford has arguably the best backcourt in the MW in Lindsey Drew, Jazz Johnson, and Jalen Harris. Even though the frontcourt is thin, Nevada should be in the mix for the regular season title for the fourth consecutive season.