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Mountain West Men’s Basketball Viewer’s Guide: Opening Night

College basketball is here! We have put together this viewer’s guide for some of the big games this week. 

Syndication: FortCollins Timothy Hurst/The Coloradoan

Mountain West basketball officially begins tonight with six regular-season games to tip off the 2021-2022 season. All 11 teams will play within the first three days of the new season.

Much of the teams will start out with home games against smaller schools, but later on in the weekend, there will be several important matchups against quality opponents that could have NCAA Tournament implications.

Other teams will venture on the road for the early season and some will face Power 5 teams early in the season. But for now, it’s time to pay attention to these first few days of action to get a taste of what we could expect from the Mountain West this season.

Here is our viewer’s guide for each team’s opening game along with some notes about each game:

Conference Favorites

Tuesday, Nov. 9:

UC Riverside at San Diego State 7 pm PT (MWN)

Oral Robers at Colorado State 7:30 pm MT (Stadium)

Eastern Washington at Nevada 7 pm PT (MWN)

The top-three teams picked in the Mountain West preseason poll all play on opening night. All three teams will open up with relatively lesser opponents to ease into the new season. Most eyes, from a national perspective, will be on the Aztecs and Rams to see how they open up the season with NCAA Tournament expectations on them.

But the real game to keep an eye on is Nevada’s. They face the Eastern Washington Eagles who made the NCAA Tournament last season. While they aren’t a household name, the Eagles will be a good test for a Wolf Pack team trying to break through in year three under Steve Alford. If Nevada comes out with a dominant showing, it could be a precursor for what we see from this team during the season and make them a real threat to San Diego State and Colorado State.

New Coaching Debuts

Tuesday, Nov. 9:

UC Davis at Utah State 7:30 pm MT (MWN)

Wednesday, Nov. 10:

Gardner Webb at UNLV 7 pm PT (MWN)

Florida Atlantic at New Mexico 7 pm PT (MWN)

Thursday, Nov. 11:

CSU Fullerton at San Jose State 7 pm PT (MWN)

All four new head coaches in the Mountain West will get home games to begin their new regimes. The first new head coach we will see is Ryan Odom, who is best known nationally as the former head coach of the 16-seeded UMBC team that defeated #1 seeded Virginia in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Now, Odom will have the challenge of trying to continue the success at Utah State, after the Aggies qualified for the last two NCAA Tournaments played.

There is a lot of excitement around Las Vegas with former Runnin’ Rebel Kevin Kruger taking over as head coach of his alma mater. UNLV will have almost an entirely new roster with 10 new players on the team. One constant from last year’s team is Bryce Hamilton, who was named to the all-conference preseason team. Kruger will try to reestablish the Runnin’ Rebel identity many longtime UNLV fans remember and a culture that his dad, Lon, helped create when he coached UNLV.

In Albuquerque, Richard Pitino will be tasked with trying to revitalize a New Mexico program that has underperformed in recent years. Lobo fans hope Pitino’s experience at Minnesota and knowledge from his father can help make New Mexico a contender in the Mountain West again. Tim Miles is returning to coaching after spending the past few years working in the media. He had a successful run at Colorado State before he moved up, and he will look to use his knowledge of coaching in the conference to establish a culture at San Jose State.

Other Games

Tuesday, Nov. 9:

Utah Valley at Boise State 7 pm MT (MWN)

Fresno Pacific at Fresno State 7 pm PT (MWN)

Wednesday, Nov. 10:

Detroit Mercy at Wyoming 7 pm MT (MWN)

Thursday, Nov. 11:

Air Force at South Dakota 1:30 pm CT (ESPN+)

Boise State and Fresno State both play on opening night with home games and both are looking to rebound after tough seasons last year. The Cowboys host Detroit Mercy on Wednesday under the second season with Jeff Linder. And Air Force makes an early-season road trip to face South Dakota in Sioux Falls.