The Mountain West Conference’s preseason poll was released on Wednesday and San Diego State has been chosen as the clear-cut favorite by a wide margin while garnering 23 of the 27 first-place votes. The Aztecs are coming off a 28-10 season that saw them go 16-2 inside the conference during the regular season, before a loss to Fresno State in the Conference Tournament Championship Game.
The Fresno State Bulldogs won the Conference Tournament Championship last season, but finished fourth in the preseason poll after losing senior guard Marvelle Harris, who now plays for the Illawarra Hawks of the National Basketball League in Australia. Harris averaged 17.7 points per game during the team’s Mountain West Tournament run, being named the MVP and getting his team into the NCAA Tournament, where they would lose as a No. 14 seed to No. 3-seeded Utah in the opening-round.
Despite their domination of the conference during the regular season, the Aztecs found themselves in the NIT last year. They made it all the way to the semifinals before being knocked off by George Washington, but after losing just three games to Mountain West teams by a combined nine points last year, they become the clear favorites heading into 2016-2017, especially with the return of forwards Trey Kell and Malik Pope, who will step into bigger roles.
Chosen second was Nevada, who went 24-14 (10-8 in the Mountain West) last season and went on to win the College Basketball Invitational over Morehead State. Tabbed as third was New Mexico, who went just 17-15 (10-8) last year, but also owned a non-conference win over Northern Iowa.