The Air Force men's basketball team was picked to finish 10th in the Mountain West preseason media poll, released today by the conference office as the league's media days began in Colorado Springs. The poll and all-conference teams were selected by a voting panel comprised of conference media.
Defending Mountain West regular-season and tournament champion New Mexico is the overwhelming preseason favorite to win the MW men's basketball regular-season title again in 2013-14. The Lobos received 23 of 24 first-place votes and 263 points to garner the top spot in the poll. UNLV claimed the remaining first-place vote and 214 points to tie with Boise State for second place, while San Diego State garnered 212 points to finish fourth. Mountain West newcomer Utah State collected 156 points for fifth place, followed by Colorado State in sixth (142 points) and Wyoming (112 points) in seventh. Rounding out the poll were Fresno State (96 points) in eighth place, Nevada (84 points) in ninth, Air Force (61 points) in 10th and MW newcomer San José State (30 points) in 11th.
New Mexico amassed a 29-6 record overall and a 13-3 mark in Mountain West action last season en route to capturing its fourth MW regular-season title and third MW tournament crown. The Lobos claimed the league's automatic bid, earning their second straight NCAA tournament appearance and sixth consecutive postseason berth overall. Four starters return among six letterwinners for first-year head coach Craig Neal, led by 2012-13 MW Player of the Year Kendall Williams (Sr., G) and fellow All-MW performer Alex Kirk (Jr., C).
UNLV posted a third-place effort (10-6) in regular-season Conference play a year ago and closed out the 2012-13 campaign with a 25-10 overall mark. The Runnin' Rebels made their seventh consecutive postseason appearance, receiving an at-large berth to the 2013 NCAA tournament. Six letterwinners, including two starters, return under the direction of third-year head coach Dave Rice. The Rebels are led by 2012-13 MW Defensive Player of the Year Khem Birch (Jr., F) and junior guard Bryce Dejean-Jones.
Boise State returns all five starters among nine letterwinners from a 2012-13 squad that compiled a 21-11 overall record and tied for fourth place in MW action with a 9-7 mark. The Broncos advanced to the postseason for the fourth time in six years, earning the program's first NCAA at-large bid with an invitation to the 2013 tournament. Headlining Boise State's cast of returnees for fourth-year head coach Leon Rice are All-MW honorees Anthony Drmic (Jr., G/F) and Derrick Marks (Jr., G).
Due to a tie in the balloting, six players were chosen for the 2013-14 Preseason All-MW Team, with two seniors and four juniors representing four institutions. New Mexico's Kendall Williams received Preseason MW Player of the Year honors, while San Diego State's Josh Davis garnered Preseason Newcomer of the Year accolades. UNLV's Kendall Smith earned Preseason Freshman of the Year kudos.
The Mountain West will begin its 15th season of basketball competition on Friday, November 8.
2013-14 PRESEASON MEDIA POLL
Rk., Team (First-Place Votes), Pts.
1. New Mexico (23), 263
2. UNLV (1), 214
Boise State, 214
4. San Diego State, 212
5. Utah State, 156
6. Colorado State, 142
7. Wyoming, 112
8. Fresno State, 96
9. Nevada, 84
10. Air Force, 61
11. San José State, 30
Preseason All-Mountain West
Anthony Drmic, Jr., G/F, Boise State
Derrick Marks, Jr., G, Boise State
Deonte Burton, Sr., G, Nevada
Alex Kirk, Jr., C, New Mexico
Kendall Williams, Sr., G, New Mexico
Khem Birch, Jr., F, UNLV
Preseason Player of the Year
Kendall Williams, Sr., G, New Mexico
Preseason Newcomer of the Year
Josh Davis, Sr., F, San Diego State
Preseason Freshman of the Year
Kendall Smith, G, UNLV