SB Nation Previews Mountain West Basketball: Predicts UNLV As League Champions

UNLV is projected to win the Mountain West for the 2012-13 season.

Football season is fast approaching but basketball season is no far behind and over at SBNation.com college hoops editor Mike Rutherford has been doing a great job of previewing the conferences leading up to the season. On Tuesday he previewed the Mountain West, and with a few surprises.

He points out the three big story lines, and of course expansion is the top story with the Nevada Wolf Pack and Fresno St. Bulldogs entering the league, and the TCU Horned Frogs are on their way out. I fully agree with his assessment that this move helps make the Mountain West a much better league. It is not out of the realm of possibility that the Mountain West is as good or maybe better than the Pac-12, and that might be even more true next year once perennial 20-game winner Utah State make the jump.

The other story is the loss of twitter enthusiast and now former Colorado State head coach Tim Miles who left for Nebraska, and his replacement is Larry Eustachy who left a strong program at Southern Miss to head to Fort Collins.

His third major story is how the Mountain West is landing top notch recruits and five of the top 75 recruits are playing in the Mountain West this year.

His order of finish is where I disagree with, but before why here is Rutherford's projections:

  1. UNLV
  2. San Diego State
  3. Colorado State
  4. New Mexico
  5. Nevada
  6. Fresno State
  7. Wyoming
  8. Air Force
  9. Boise State

Placing Colorado State third is a bold choice, even though they bring back six of their top eight scorers as well first-team All-Mountain West guard Wes Eikmeier. With Colorado State having a new head coach it may take some time for the players to get everything going in Eustachy's new system.

As for New Mexico, they did lose Drew Gordon but they do get back Alex Kirk back after missing all of last season due to injury. However, Steve Alford is one of the best two coaches in the Mountain West and will have his team ready, and while I understand where Colorado State can be predicted as finishing third place, I will have to see it to believe it.

Basically this is UNLV's league to lose, and expectations will be sky high this year.

Here is Rutherford's preseason All-Mountain West team:

G Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State
G Wes Eikmeier, Colorado State
G Chase Tapley, San Diego State
F Mike Moser, UNLV
F Khem Birch, UNLV

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Anthony Bennett, UNLV

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Mike Moser, UNLV

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