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Lobos get no love in preseason Mountain West poll, Nevada picked to repeat

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – The coaches of the Mountain West conference seem to agree: The media voters don’t know what they’re talking about.

That is much like every other college basketball coach in the country this time of year.

A 24-member media panel has voted the Nevada Wolf Pack as the preseason favorite to defend its crown and win the 2017-18 MWC regular-season championship according to the poll released Wednesday at the league’s annual media conference at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

See full voting results and the all-conference player honors below.

The voters aren’t nearly as optimistic about the University of New Mexico, which was picked to finish ninth in the 11-team league. The Lobos also didn’t have any player pick up an individual preseason honor.

“I think if you talk to us, we feel pretty good about our team,” said first-year Lobos coach Paul Weir. “I can’t compare us to anybody. I haven’t been to any of their practices or any of their programs. I’d like to think based on what I know about basketball and what I know about our guys, we’re better than where those people pick us.”

The Lobos received 93 points, better than only No. 10 San Jose State (41) and No. 11 Air Force (38). It’s the lowest UNM has been picked in the preseason poll in the 19-year history of the league. Though in the 2002-03 preseason poll, UNM was picked seventh when the league had just eight teams.

Nevada earned 19 of a possible 24 first-place votes in the poll. It is the first time since 2009-10 (when BYU was the preseason favorite) that a team other than San Diego State or New Mexico has been picked to win the league.

SDSU had been picked to win the league each of the past four preseasons, but last year finished as the No. 6 seed in the postseason league tournament. UNM, picked third last year, was the No. 5 seed.

SDSU came in second in Wednesday’s poll and received two of the other five first-place votes. No. 3 Boise State also received two first-place votes. Fresno State was picked to finish fourth, Colorado State fifth and UNLV, which received the other first-place vote, was sixth. Wyoming was seventh and Utah State was picked eighth.

Weir wasn’t alone in questioning the media’s selections, though. Even the coach at the top had his problems.

“I thought year one and year two we were really underrated, especially last year,” said third-year Nevada coach Eric Musselman. “It didn’t matter what came out of (the preseason media conference), I thought we had a chance to win the league. Maybe some people didn’t think that way. Now, I think we’re overrated.”

However, asked which team he would have picked to win it since he felt his team isn’t the right pick, Musselman admitted he didn’t know enough about any other team to comment on that.

Boise State senior guard Chandler Hutchison was voted the preseason Player of the Year and was joined on the All-MWC team by Nevada small forward Jordan Caroline, Utah State guard Koby McEwen, San Diego State guard Trey Kell and Wyoming guard Justin James.

UNLV forward Brandon McCoy was selected the Freshman of the Year, and Nevada’s Caleb Martin, a junior transfer from North Carolina State, was Newcomer of the Year.

Mountain West 2017-18 Preseason Media Poll

(first place votes in parenthesis, followed by total points)
1. Nevada (19) 257
2. San Diego State (2) 229
3. Boise State (2) 211
4. Fresno State 188
5. Colorado State 154
6. UNLV (1) 138
7. Wyoming 133
8. Utah State 102
9. New Mexico 93
10. San Jose State 41
11. Air Force 38

Preseason All-Mountain West Team

G Chandler Hutchison, Sr., Boise State
F Jordan Caroline, Jr., Nevada
G Koby McEwen, So., Utah State
G Justin James, Jr., Wyoming
G Trey Kell, Sr., San Diego State

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Chandler Hutchison, Sr., Boise State
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR: Caleb Martin, Jr., Nevada