Last season 6 of the 9 MWC teams went to a post season tournament. Two teams went to the NCAA Tournament, three went to the NIT tournament, and one went to the CBI tournament. Many have claimed that the MWC is the best outside of the six power conferences and it has not been unusual to see the MWC ranked in with the six power conferences. This year expect to see six teams return to post season play with three teams in the NCAA tournament, two in the NIT, and one in the CBI.
Projected Order of Finish:
BYU Cougars = 1
BYU looses Lee Cummard from last year who was the biggest impact player for BYU. Jimmer Fredette should be ready to step up and take Cummards place and with Jonathan Tavernari and Chris Miles returning to BYU and a solid recruiting class BYU remains the team to beat. Since the conception of the MWC BYU has yet to win a game in the NCAA tournament could this be the year they make it past the first round?
San Diego St Aztecs = 2
San Diego St looses Lorrenzo Wade, Kyle Spain, Ryan Amoroso, and Richie Williams from last years team. Steve fisher put together a great recruiting class with Kawhi Leonard leading the way and two transfers in Tyrone Shelly and Malcom Thomas playing along side Billy White San Diego St will make a legitimate run at a conference championship. Last season with one of the best team they have put on the court they made it to the final four in the NIT but can this team jell together and make a run in the NCAA Tourney?
UNLV Rebels = 3
Last year UNLV looked like they were the team to beat at the beginning of the season with wins at Louisville and against Arizona but ended up disappearing down the stretch losing 7 of its final 11 games. This year they have added height, leadership, and depth. If this team puts it together and plays to potential not only will they be a serious threat to win the MWC but may make a return to the sweet 16. Will they be able to play like the Rebels who beat Louisville or the ones who faded down the stretch?
New Mexico Lobos = 4
Tony Dandridge will be sorely missed along with the departures of Daniel Faris and Chad Toppert. With only one senior on this squad New Mexico proves to be an up and coming young team in the MWC. With the pit being the toughest place to play in the MWC if you over look this team it will come back to bite you. A likely NIT bound team will they be able to add to last years success and make it past the second round?
Utah Utes = 5
The Utes may have been conference co-champions last year but they loose the majority of there offense and the MWC’s player of the year from last year. Luka Drca, Carlon Brown, and freshman redshirt Jason Washburn will be the key factors in determining the success of this Ute Squad. Jim Boylen has been able to get his team to buy into his philosophies which will make the Utes a continual threat. A bid to the NIT should be very achievable for this team but will they be able to fight off a first round disappointment again?
TCU Horned Frogs = 6
With Zvonko Buljan and the senior leadership this year’s team may surprise a few teams. If TCU can get a serious three point threat out of its guard play to spread opposing teams defenses and give the post players a chance to play without the continual double teams this team could be in the top half of the MWC. This team should be good enough for a NIT post season bid, will they play to that potential or have to settle for a CBI bid?
Wyoming Cowboys = 7
Sean Ogirri and Tyson Johnson will prove to be big losses for the Cowboys but nothing like Brandon Ewing will be. Combined between these three players they loose 46 points a game. Returning player Afam Muojeke, JC import Thomas Manzane, and Auburn transfer Boubacar Sylia will need to play big minutes if this Cowboy team hopes to return to any post season play. A team that has been very laxed on the defense end of the court will need Boubacar Sylia to use his 7’-2” 275 lb body to provide a force under the basket. Is this team in need of a complete overhaul or will they be able to return to the CBI and develop on what they already have?
Colorado St Rams = 8
With the 302 best defense in the country the Rams have allot of room for improvement. Ole Miss transfer Andy Ogide looks to be the beginning of that improvement. If Jesse Carr can stay healthy Tim Miles has two very solid players to build this team around. If Travis Busch can return from an injured knee the Rams could keep from being in the cellar of the MWC. Will the Rams be able to avoid the injury problems that plagued them last year or will injury make it so they struggle for a conference win?
Air Force Falcons = 9
Three point shooting and scoring defense keeps the academy in most of its games, lack of productive play in the post inhibits them from winning. The lack of experience may prevent this team from rising from the cellar. Evan Washington averaged the most points from last years squad that is returning (6.8 ppg) and will be expected to step up his play and take over the leadership role. Will Jeff Reynolds be able to reinstall the Princeton style offense or will they suffer through another winless conference season?
G – Jimmer Fredette, BYU
G– Derrick Jasper, UNLV
G/F – Roman Martinez, UNM
PF – Billy White, SDSU
Center – Zvonko Buljan, TCU
Player of the Year: Jimmer Fredette, BYU
Newcomber of the Year: Derrick Jasper, UNLV
Defensive Player of the Year: Jackson Emery, BYU
Offensive Player of the Year: Billy White, SDSU
Top Rebounder: Zvonko Buljan, TCU
Top Playmaker: Derrick Jasper, UNLV