Air Force picked to finish last in MWC Men's Basketball

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The Mountain West released its men's basketball preseason media poll and all-Conference team today, as selected by a voting panel comprised of Conference media.

Defending Mountain West co-regular-season champion San Diego State edged UNLV as the preseason favorite to win the MW men's basketball regular-season title in 2012-13. The Aztecs received 10 of 18 first-place votes and 153 points to garner the top spot in the poll. The Runnin' Rebels claimed the remaining eight first-place votes and 151 points for second place. New Mexico garnered 122 points to finish third, followed by Colorado State, who collected 106 points for fourth place. Mountain West newcomer Nevada earned 89 points to finish fifth, followed by Wyoming (70 points) in sixth, MW newcomer Fresno State (49 points) in seventh, Boise State (43 points) in eighth and Air Force (27 points) in ninth to round out the poll.

San Diego State amassed a 26-8 overall record in 2011-12 en route to capturing a share of the MW regular-season crown with a 10-4 mark. The Aztecs made their third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance last year, receiving an at-large bid, and enter the 2012-13 campaign ranked No. 20 in the preseason USA Today/ESPN Coaches' top 25 poll. Four of five starters return among seven letterwinners for 14th-year head coach Steve Fisher, led by the 2011-12 MW Player of the Year Jamaal Franklin (Jr., G) and fellow all-MW performers Chase Tapley (Sr., G) and Xavier Thames (Jr., G).

UNLV turned in a third-place effort (9-5) in regular-season Conference action a year ago and closed out the 2011-12 campaign with a 26-9 overall mark. The Runnin' Rebels made their sixth straight postseason appearance, receiving an at-large berth to the 2012 NCAA tournament. Six letterwinners, including two starters, return under the direction of second-year head coach Dave Rice. The Rebels, who enter the 2012-13 campaign ranked No. 19 in the preseason Coaches' poll, are led by 2011-12 MW Newcomer of the Year Mike Moser (Jr., F) and all-MW senior guard Anthony Marshall.

Defending Mountain West tournament champion New Mexico returns three of five starters among eight letterwinners from a 2011-12 squad that compiled a 28-7 overall record and earned a share of the MW regular-season crown (10-4). The Lobos ended the season ranked No. 21 and 23 in the final AP and Coaches' polls, respectively, and made their sixth straight trip to the postseason, advancing to the third round of the NCAA tournament. Headlining UNM's cast of returnees for sixth-year head coach Steve Alford are all-MW junior guards Kendall Williams and Tony Snell.

One senior and four juniors representing four institutions were chosen for the 2012-13 preseason all-MW team. San Diego State's Jamaal Franklin received Preseason MW Player of the Year honors, while San Diego State's Dwayne Polee II and UNLV's Bryce DeJean-Jones shared Preseason Newcomer of the Year accolades. UNLV's Anthony Bennett earned Preseason Freshman of the Year kudos.

The Mountain West will begin its 14th season of basketball competition on Friday, November 9.