Nevada overwhelming favorite to win Mountain West basketball title |

Nevada overwhelming favorite to win Mountain West basketball title

Darrell Moody
Eric Musselman

LAS VEGAS – As expected, the University of Nevada was the pick of the media to win the 2017-18 Mountain West men’s basketball title.

The Pack won both the regular-season and conference championships last year en route to the school’s first NCAA appearance in 10 years.

Nevada received 19 of the 24 first-place votes and collected 257 points. San Diego State got two first-place votes and 229 points. It’s the first time the Pack has been named the preseason No. 1.

Boise State, picked to finish third, received two first-place votes and 211 total points. Fresno State (188), Colorado State (154), UNLV (138), Wyoming (133), Utah State (102), New Mexico (93), San Jose State (41) and Air Force (38) rounded out the voting. UNLV had one first-place vote.

“I don’t think it changes our approach,” coach Eric Musselman said. “We know it’s an added responsibility, and we are going to get people’s best shot. Years 1 and 2 we were underrated. We might be overrated now. We haven’t done anything yet. We lost a lot of experience.

“The one thing we’re excited about is we’ve gotten better during the season every year, and I think that will happen this year. Games 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, we’re not going to have a finished product. We have to figure out roles and responsibilities. We have to recognize the go-to players.”

Two Pack players — Jordan Caroline and Caleb Martin — received individual honors.

Caroline, the MVP of the MW Championships last year, was named to the preseason first team. Caroline averaged 15 points and 9.2 rebounds last year. He averaged 18.3 in the tourney.

“We have a whole season to play,” Caroline said. “It is just preseason.”

Martin redshirted for the Pack last year after transferring from North Carolina State. He was named the preseason Newcomer of the Year. As a sophomore at N.C. State, Martin averaged 11.5 points and 4.7 rebounds.

Boise State’s Chandler Hutchison was named preseason Player of the Year after averaging 17.4 a game and being named all-conference.

There was some speculation Hutchison might leave BSU for the NBA, but he opted to come back for a third season.

“My biggest jump was from my sophomore to junior year,” he said. “I spent all summer and fall trying to get better.

“I was a late bloomer out of high school. I knew right away this was a place I wanted to be. My parents didn’t even know where Boise was.”

Boise State coach Leon Rice said it took just a short time to know Hutchison had tons of potential, and he said Hutchison’s work ethic is second to none on the Broncos’ team.

Trey Kell of San Diego State (13.2 points), Justin James of Wyoming (16 ppg), Hutchison and Utah State’s Koby McEwen (14.9) comprise the remainder of the preseason first team. McEwen was Freshman of the Year last season.

Brandon McCoy, who averaged 28.6 points and 12.6 rebounds a game at Cathedral Catholic in San Diego, is the Freshman of the Year. The 6-foot-11 McCoy was ranked by as the 16th-best recruit in the country.