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Mountain West Basketball: 5 best head coaches entering 2023-24

Who are the top men’s basketball coaches in the Mountain West entering 2023-24? Let’s dive into it!

San Diego State v Connecticut Photo by C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

We are roughly two months away from the start of the 2023-24 Mountain West basketball men’s basketball season! There are 11 coaches in the conference, but today, we’re going to rank the five best heading into the new season (prioritizing their production in conference). Let’s dive into it!

Honorable mentions: Niko Medved, Colorado State; Kevin Kruger, UNLV; Jeff Linder, Wyoming; Joe Scott, Air Force

5. Tim Miles, San Jose State

2022-23 Record: 21-14, 10-8

Career record at San Jose State: 29-37

Medved was a tough cut, but Miles deserves to be on this list after rightfully winning the conference’s coach of the year award last year. San Jose State was projected to be one of the worst teams in the Mountain West and it climbed all the way to a top-5 seed by the end of the 2022-23 regular season. Miles has had success at his previous stops, but perhaps his biggest test since joining SJSU will come this upcoming season without reigning Mountain West Player of the Year Omari Moore.

4. Richard Pitino, New Mexico

2022-23 Record: 22-12, 8-10

Career record at New Mexico: 35-31

This might draw some controversy, but I’m admittedly very high on Richard Pitino. This program was in near purgatory after two mediocre stints from Craig Neil and Paul Weir. Pitino struggled in his inaugural 2021-22 season with the Lobos, but has recruited his tail off—in the portal and with his freshman classes—forming one of the most explosive offenses in the Mountain West that led to New Mexico’s first 20-win campaign in nearly a decade. They did slip up in-conference, but Pitino’s put together very formidable squads and should have another quality season in 2023-24.

3. Steve Alford, Nevada

2022-23 Record: 22-11, 12-6

Career record at Nevada: 70-51

Steve Alford has had an up-and-down four-year stint with the Wolf Pack, but is coming off a season where they won 22 games after losing their three best players to the transfer portal, including seven Quad 1 and 2 teams. Yes, they did lose four consecutive to close the season, but Alford is still one of the best coaches in the conference with a deep track record of success.

2. Leon Rice, Boise State

2022-23 Record: 24-10, 13-5

Career record at Boise State: 268-155

Has Boise State struggled in the NCAA Tournament? Yes. But Leon Rice has still been the model of (positive) consistency at Boise State, posting 11 20-win seasons in 13 seasons. One of the two he didn’t was in the COVID-shortened season in 2020-21, when Boise State finished 19-9. No matter who he loses to graduation (or, in this current era, the portal), Rice reloads his squad and wins 20-plus games. X’s and O’s aside, that’s the sign of a good coach. He’ll return player of the year candidate Tyson Degenhart entering 2023-24 and should have another roster that could compete for a MW Title.

1. Brian Dutcher, San Diego State

2022-23 Record: 32-7, 15-3

Career record at SDSU: 151-47

Is this even a question? No. Dutcher has been a part of the SDSU staff in some capacity since 1999 and has gone 151-47 in six seasons since taking over for Aztec coaching legend Steve Fisher. Oh, and Dutcher’s SDSU is coming off the program’s (and conference’s) first-ever National Championship appearance when nobody—and I mean nobody—expected them to make it that far. Dutcher is an elite coach.