Nevada will, more than likely, dominate the Mountain West Conference in 2018-2019. It is possible that this team will lose less than two (2) games in conference play.

Boise State and San Diego State should remain competitive in the conference as usual.

If coach Menzie find a way to get his UNLV team to play defense they could easily compete for one of the top spots in the conference.

Can New Mexico bounce back from all of the players that they’ve lost?

Colorado State is the sleeper in this conference. This team could be a very dangerous team this coming season.

Utah State also has a decent team and can also be very dangerous.

With that said, here is how we predict the Mountain West Conference standing for 2018-2019:

1. Nevada Basketball

Coach: Eric Musselman

Off Roster:
Graduate: Justin Brent, Elijah Foster, Darien Williams, Hallice Cooke, Josh Hall, and Kendall Stephens

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Jordan Caroline (SF), Cody Martin (SF), Caleb Martin (SF), and Lindsey Drew (PG)
Key Transfer(s) added: Nisre Zouzoua (SG, Bryant), Corey Henson (PG, Wagner) Jazz Johnson (PG, Portland), Tre'Shawn Thurman (SF, Omaha), and Trey Porter (PF, Old Dominion)
Key Freshmen added: Jordan Brown (PF), Kwame 'K.J.' Hymes (PF), and Vince Lee (PF)    

This is hands down a national championship caliber team!! Undoubtedly one of the best teams in College basketball. Nevada may not be as big in size as other championship caliber teams in college basketball but they have the ability to match up with any of them. They have a whole lot of veterans and the majority of their transfers were former stars on other teams. On top of that, their incoming freshman could be starters on any other team in college basketball.

2017-2018 Record: 29-8 (15-3) NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen Finish
Projected Conference Wins 2018-2019:  16+

2. Boise State Basketball

Coach: Leon Rice

Off Roster:
Graduate: Chandler Hutchison, Christian Sengfelder, and Lexus Williams

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Justinian Jessup (SG), Zach Haney (C ), Marcus Dickinson (PG), Alex Hobbs (SG), Cam Christon (SG), Malek Harwell (SG), David Wacker (C ), and Robin Jorch (C )
Key Transfer(s) added: Patrick Dembley (PG, Iowa Western) and Roderick Williams (SF, East, Los Angeles)
Key Freshmen added: Jaycson Bereal (PG), Riley Abercrombie (PF), and Mikey Frazier (C)

Boise State will be missing three (3) starters from the 2017-2018 season. Chandler Hutchison, Christian Sengfelder, and Lexus Williams have all graduated. Boise State has added two (2) pretty good JUCO players, Patrick Dembley and Roderick Williams to make up for the loss. If both players could maintain double digit scoring averages, Boise State could maintain their spot at the top of the MWC standings.

2017-2018 Record: 23-9 (13-5) NIT First Round Exit
Projected Conference Wins 2018-2019:  14-

3. UNLV Basketball

Coach: Marvin Menzies

Off Roster:
Possibly Turned Pro: Brandon McCoy
Graduate: Jordan Johnson and Jovan Mooring

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Cheikh Mbacke Diong (C ), Cheickna Dembele (C ), Shakur Juiston (SF), Tervell Beck (SF), Amauri Hardy (PG), Anthony Smith (SF), Kris Clyburn (SG), Jay Green (PG), Ben Coupet, Jr. (SF), Ben Coupet, Jr. (SF)
Key Transfer(s): Noah Robotham (PG, Akron)
Key Freshmen added: Bryce Hamilton (SG), Joel Ntambwe (SG), Trey Woodbury (SG), and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua (PF)

It’s hard to imagine that this team had finished 8th in Mountain West Conference last season. They had one of the best point guards in college basketball.  They were also one of the best rebounding and scoring teams in the country.

The problem with this team was defense. When the team wasn’t hot offensively it made for a bad day.

UNLV should remain a good scoring team with the additions of freshman Phenom Bryce Hamilton and D1 transfer Noah Robotham. Hopefully the two (2) of them will help the team to improve defensively.

2017-2018 Record: 20-13 (8-10) No Appearance         
Projected Conference Wins 2018-2019:  14-

4. San Diego State Basketball

Coach: Brian Dutcher

Off Roster:
Possibly Turned Pro: Max Montana
Graduate: Trey Kell, Malik Pope, and Kameron Rooks

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Devin Watson (PG), Matt Mitchell (SF), Jalen McDaniels (PF), Jeremy Hemsley (SG), Nolan Narain (PF), Adam Seiko (SG), and  Jordan Schakel (SG)
Key Freshmen added: Edward Chang (SF), Joel Mensah (PF), Nathan Mensah (C ), and Aguek Arop (PF)

San Diego State will have three (3) starters, Devin Watson, Matt Mitchell, Jalen McDaniels, returning from their successful 2017-2018 season. San Diego State had the best defenses in the Mountain West last season, holding their opponents to only 67.9 points per game. This well balanced team should remain solid and should continue their success from the previous season. 

However, my concern with this team is depth. There will be several new players on the bench this coming season.

2017-2018 Record: 22-11 (11-7) NCAA Tournament First Round Exit
Projected Conference Wins 2018-2019:  13-

5. New Mexico Basketball

Coach: Paul Weir

Off Roster:
Transferred: Chris McNeal (Tennessee Tech), Troy Simons (Kent State),and Jachai Simmons
Graduate: Joe Furstinger, Antino Jackson, Sam Logwood, Antino Jackson, and Mike Mondragon

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Anthony Mathis (SG), Dane Kuiper (SG), Makuach Maluach (SF), and Vladimir Pinchuk (C )
Key Transfer(s) added: Keith McGee (PG,  South Plains), Corey Manigault (PF, Indian Hills), Karim Ezzeddine (PF, Northwest Florida State), Tajuan Agee (PF, Tyler), and Vance Jackson (SF, UCONN)
Key Freshmen added: Drue Drinnon (PG) and Tavian Percy (SG)

New Mexico was a very good offensive scoring team last season.  The Lobos put up, on average, 82.2 points per game, which ranked them at 18th nationally and 2nd in the Mountain West Conference behind UNLV. However, over 60% their players from the 2017-2018 season will be missing from the 2018-2019 season roster.

New Mexico will depend heavily on JUCO and Division transfers to make a run for the top of the Mountain West. The problem is, none of the transfers coming in were known for their outstanding point production or defense. It is going to be interesting to see what this team does in 2018-2019.

2017-2018 Record: 19-15 (12-6) No Appearance
Projected Conference Wins 2018-2019:  10+

6. Colorado State Basketball

Coach: Niko Medved

Off Roster:
Transferred: Prentiss Nixon (Iowa State), Raquan Mitchell (New Mexico Highlands)
Graduate: Che Bob

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Jeremiah Paige (SG), Deion James (SF), Anthony Bonner (SG), Nico Carvacho (C ), Lorenzo Jenkins (SG), Logan Ryan (PF), and Robbie Berwick (SG)
Key Transfer(s): Hyron Edwards (PG, Trinity Valley, Texas Tech), Kris Martin (SG, Oral Roberts), and Alonzo Tyson (PF, Cape Fear)
Key Freshmen added: Kendle Moore (PG), Adam Thistlewood (SG), Jack Schoemann (SF), and James Moors (PF)

Colorado State will start the 2018-2019 season with a new coach in Niko Medved. Fortunately coach Medved will have several starters returning from the previous season, which includes their top scorers Jeremiah Paige and Deion James.

Hopefully, this team will find a way to improve on defense, which was Colorado’s problem last season. This team was ranked 326th nationally and dead last in the Mountain West Conference in points allowed by the opponent. New Coach Niko Medved will look to solve this team’s defensive problems with the additions of D1 and JUCO transfers Hyron Edwards (PG, Trinity Valley, Texas Tech), Kris Martin (SG, Oral Roberts) and Alonzo Tyson (PF, Cape Fear). Edwards, who didn’t play a single game at Texas Tech, was ranked 10th nationally in steals in his final season at Trinity Valley Community College. Tyson ranked 49th nationally in block shots and rebounds in his final season at Cape Fear Community College.

Edwards should also help this team at the point guard position. He averaged 5.5 assists per game at Trinity C.C. Colorado State may surprise a lot of people next season.

Colorado State could be a very dangerous team this coming season!

2017-2018 Record: 11-21 (4-14) No Appearance         
Projected Conference Wins 2018-2019:  9+

7. Utah State Basketball

Coach: Craig Smith

Off Roster:
Possibly Turned Pro: DeAngelo Isby
Transferred: Koby McEwen (Marquette), Daron Henson
Graduate: Alex Dargenton and Julion Pearre

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Sam Merrill (SG), Dwayne Brown Jr. (SF), Diogo Brito (PG), Quinn Taylor (PF), Crew Ainge (PG), Abel Porter (SG), Klay Stall (RS, PF) and Brock Miller (SG)
Key Transfer(s): Roché Grootfaam (PF, Southern Idaho), John Knight III (PG,  Southwest Mississippi), and Ke'Sean Davis (SF, Seward County)
Key Freshmen added: Steven Ashworth (PG), Tauriawn Knight (PG), and Ben Fakira (C)

Utah State will start the 2018-2019 season with an experienced coach in Craig Smith, who has the ability to return Utah State back to the team that it once was. Coach Smith left South Dakota with a rising record.  Fortunately, Coach Smith will have a lot of good pieces to work with at the start of the season.

Utah State has four (4) frequent starters returning in Sam Merrill, Dwayne Brown Jr., Diogo Brito, and Quinn Taylor. Merrill was the team’s top scorer while Brown was the team’s third best scorer.

Utah State should get better defensively with its additions of JUCO transfers Roché Grootfaam and John Knight III. Both were very good shot blockers with their former teams.

Hopefully, we’ll see an improvement in rebounding with the return of freshman redshirt Klay Stall.

2017-2018 Record: 17-17 (8-10) No Appearance
Projected Conference Wins 2018-2019:  9+

8. Fresno State Basketball

Coach: Brian Dutcher

Off Roster:
Transferred: Bryson Williams (UTEP)
Graduate: Ray Bowles Jr., Jaron Hopkins, Jahmel Taylor, and Terrell Carter II

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Deshon Taylor (SG), Sam Bittner (SG), Nate Grimes (SF), Lazaro Rojas (C), Johnny McWilliams (SG), Darryl McDowell-White (SG), and Darryl McDowell-White (SG)
Key Transfer(s): Noah Blackwell (PG, Long Beach), Eric Vila (PF, Texas A&M) Christian Gray (SF, Salt Lake), and New Williams ((SG, Auburn)
Key Freshmen added: Aguir Agau (SGI) and Assane Diouf (C)

Fresno State has lost a lot after the 2017-2018 season. Mainly, the Bulldogs will be without Coach Rodney Terry, a coach who led the team to the NCAA Tournament in 2016. Coach Terry took the coaching job at UTEP and took Fresno State’s 2nd best scorer, Bryson Williams, with him. 

With the exception of Deshon Taylor and JUCO transfer Christian Gray, everyone else on the roster have contributed very little their teams last season. The question is, can Fresno State make up for over 50 points per game with this current  roster?

2017-2018 Record: 21-11 (11-7) No Appearance
Projected Conference Wins 2018-2019:  8-

9. Wyoming Basketball

Coach: Allen Edwards

Off Roster:
Transferred: Cody Kelley (South Dakota)
Graduate: Louis Adams, Alexander Aka Gorski, Hayden Dalton, and Alan Herndon

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Justin James (SG), Hunter Maldonado (SF), Nyaires Redding (PG), Austin Mueller (SF), Jordan Naughton (C ), and Hunter Thompson (PF)
Key Transfer(s): Lwal Dung (SF, Neosho County), A.J. Banks (PG, Pratt), and Jake Hendricks (PG, Southern Idaho)
Key Freshmen added: Trace Young (SF), Bradley Belt (PG), Tariq Johnson (SG), Brandon Porter (SF) and Trevon Taylor (SF)

Wyoming will have a great number of players missing from the 2017-2018 roster. The good news is that they will have their top scorer, Justin James, returning. Newcomers, Lwal Dung, A.J. Banks, and Jake Hendricks should help make up for the lost points missing from the departure of Hayden Dalton, and Alan Herndon.

The question we have for this team I, have they made any improvements on defense with their new additions? The fact that Wyoming had one of the worst defenses in the country last season kept this team from moving to the top of the Mountain West Conference. Wyoming allowed their opponents to score, on average, 78.7 points per game. That’s a lot of points.

Hopefully, Lwal Dung and redshirt Hunter Thompson will help improve this team’s defense. Dung had a total of 40 blocked shots and averaged 7 rebounds per game in his final season at Neosho County Community College.

2017-2018 Record: 20-13 (10-8) No Appearance         
Projected Conference Wins 2018-2019: 5-

10. San José State Basketball

Coach: Jean Prioleau

Off Roster:
Transferred: Keith Fisher III (Illinois State), Ryan Welage (Xavier), Jaycee Hillsman (Illinois State), and Isaiah Nichols
Graduate: Jalen James and Brandon Mitchell

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Noah Baumann (SG), Ashtin Chastain (C ), Oumar Barry (C ), Walter Graves III (SF), Nai Carlisle (PG), Caleb Simmons (SF), Ryan Singer (PF)
Key Transfer(s): Brae Ivey (PG, Riverside), Brian Rodrigue (SG, SMCC), Craig LeCesne (PF, San Bernardino Valley), Michael Steadman (C, San Francisco)
Key Freshmen added: Kaison Hammonds (PG), Zach Chappell (PG), Seneca Knight (SG), and Christian Anigwe (PF)

Coach Jean Prioleau will rely heavily on transfers to improve his team this coming season. The transfer to watch is Brae Ivey from Riverside Community College, who is point guard that can contribute t the team both offensively and defensively. Ivey averaged 18 points, 6 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game in his final season at Riverside. He also ranked 99th nationally in steals.

San Francisco Community College transfer Michael Steadman should also help contribute defensively. Steadman ranked 38th nationally in blocked shots in his final season at San Fransisco.

Expect San José State to improve in all categories but don’t expect this tem to rise to the top of the Mountain West Conference anytime soon.

2017-2018 Record: 4-26 (1-17) No Appearance            
Projected Conference Wins 2018-2019:  5-

11. Air Force Basketball

Coach: Dave Pilipovich

Off Roster:
Graduate: Trevor Lyons, Ryan Manning, CJ Siples, Frank Toohey, and Jacob Van

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Lavelle Scottie (SF), Ryan Swan-Ford (SF), Sid Tomes (PG), Keaton Van Soelen (SG), Jonathan DeWane (PF), Pervis Louder (SG), Caleb Morris (SG), Dane Norman (PF), and LeSean Brown (PG)

The Air Force will get back their top two (2) scorers from last season in Lavelle Scottie and Ryan Swan-Ford. However, this team had one of the worst offenses in the nation in 2017-2018. Getting to the top pf the Mountain West may be an uphill battle for this team.

2017-2018 Record: 12-19 (6-12) No Appearance         
Projected Conference Wins 2018-2019:   5-

Jack Williams
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Mountain West Conference 2018-2019 College Basketball Predictions

 (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Jack Williams is the Owner and Operator of D1Coachcorner.com, a graduate of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, and a member of the USBWA. Twitter: @d1coachcorner

August 17, 2018, 1:30pm
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