Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 10/22/11

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series.  Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days.  We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

With a solid core returning, the New Mexico Lobos are the preseason pick to win the Mountain West Conference.  They have skill and depth across the board and should be able to compete on a national level.

Last Season: 5th, 8-8 in MWC, 22-13 overall
Predicted MWC Finish: 1st

Projected Depth Chart
C: Drew Gordon (Sr)/Alex Kirk (So)
PF: A.J. Hardemann (Sr)/Cameron Bairstow (So)
G/F: Phillip McDonald (Sr)/Chad Adams (Jr)
SG: Kendall Williams (So)/Tony Snell (So)/Hugh Greenwood (Fr)/Dominique Dunning (Fr)
PG: Jamal Fenton (Jr)/Demetrius Walker (So)

Gone: PG-Dairese Gary, PF-Emmanuel Negedu (heart condition), SG-Curtis Dennis (transfer-Toledo)

2011-2012 Outlook:
Leading the charge inside is double-double machine Drew Gordon.  The UCLA transfer was the impact player many expected him to be after having to sit out the first nine games of the season.  A.J. Hardeman is a solid compliment to Gordon inside but could lose minutes to 6-11 Alex Kirk.  The sophomore is an inside/outside threat and will be significantly more effective with a year of experience under his belt.  Cameron Bairstow provides Steve Alford with another big body off the bench.

Kendall Williams and Phillip McDonald are a formidable duo on the wing and will be asked to pick up the slack left behind by Dairese Gary.  Williams is the reigning Mountain West Freshman of the Year and a do-it-all guard who shot 42.6% from distance.  McDonald struggled with his outside shot last season but is a reliable third scorer for the Lobos.

There is experience behind McDonald and Williams with Tony Snell and Chad Adams being role players a year ago.  Snell brings a defensive dimension off the bench with his length and athleticism.  Hugh Greenwood is an intriguing prospect and could work his way into the rotation due to his ability to score.  He dropped 26 points against the U.S. this summer while playing for the Australian U-19 team.

Williams is more than capable of handling the point but will likely be joined in the starting line-up by Jamal Fenton.  The 5-9 guard played well in the NIT when Gary suffered an injury and is a capable scorer or distributor.  Arizona State transfer Demetrius Walker will be a key reserve after sitting out last season.

The Lobos went through a down season a year ago but will be the team to beat in the Mountain West.  They have skill and depth across their roster to hold their own against some of the top competition in the country.  Steve Alford should have New Mexico on par with his team from two seasons ago that earned a number three seed in the NCAA Tournament rather than the one that had a five hundred conference record in 2010-11.

Player to Watch: Drew Gordon
A Mountain West Player of the Year candidate, Gordon posted a double-double in half of his games last season.  With Gary gone, Gordon should get more touches in the paint and will have to be an even bigger scoring threat on top of his already stellar ability to crash the boards.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/16 vs. New Mexico State
11/18 at Arizona State
11/24 vs. Santa Clara (76 Classic)
11/25 vs. Oklahoma/Washington State (76 Classic)
11/26 vs. Villanova/UC-Riverside/Boston College/St. Louis (76 Classic)
12/10 at USC
12/17 vs. Oklahoma State
12/28 at New Mexico State
12/31 vs. St. Louis

OTHER 111 IN 111′S:
#22 Temple Owls
#23 Cincinnati Bearcats
#24 Kansas Jayhawks
#25 UNLV Rebels
#26 Washington Huskies
#27 UCLA Bruins
#28 Butler Bulldogs
#29 Missouri Tigers
#30 Texas Longhorns
#31 Villanova Wildcats
#32 Michigan State Spartans
#33 Florida State Seminoles
#34 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
#35 Harvard Crimson
#36 Illinois Fighting Illini
#37 Oregon Ducks
#38 Wichita State Shockers
#39 Cal Golden Bears
#40 Belmont Bruins
#41 Mississippi State Bulldogs
#42 Saint Mary’s Gaels
#43 Purdue Boilermakers
#44 BYU Cougars
#45 Kansas State Wildcats
#46 West Virginia Mountaineers
#47 Virginia Cavaliers
#48 George Mason Patriots
#49 Old Dominion Monarchs
#50 VCU Rams
#51 Kent State Golden Flashes
#52 Arkansas Razorbacks
#53 St. John’s Red Storm
#54 Northwestern Wildcats
#55 Georgetown Hoyas
#56 Miami Hurricanes
#57 Nevada Wolfpack
#58 Detroit Titans
#59 UCF Knights
#60 Long Beach State 49ers
#61 Virginia Tech Hokies
#62 Clemson Tigers
#63 New Mexico State Aggies
#64 Tennessee Volunteers
#65 Iona Gaels
#66 Murray State Racers
#67 N.C. State Wolfpack
#68 Fairfield Stags
#69 George Washingon Colonials
#70 Indiana State Sycamores
#71 Oklahoma State Cowboys
#72 Indiana Hoosiers
#73 UAB Blazers
#74 Iowa State Cyclones
#75 Creighton Bluejays
#76 USC Trojans
#77 Weber State Wildcats
#78 Maryland Terrapins
#79 Tulsa Golden Hurricane
#80 Minnesota Golden Gophers
#81 Western Michigan Broncos
#82 Dayton Flyers
#83 Stanford Cardinal
#84 Yale Bulldogs
#85 Georgia Bulldogs
#86 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
#87 Richmond Spiders
#88 Ball State Cardinals
#89 Utah State Aggies
#90 Arizona State Sun Devils
#91 Marshall Thundering Herd
#92 Oregon State Beavers
#93 Washington State Cougars
#94 Iowa Hawkeyes
#95 Ole Miss Rebels
#96 Nebraska Cornhuskers
#97 Oklahoma Sooners
#98 South Florida Bulls
#99 LSU Tigers
#100 Colorado Buffaloes
#101 DePaul Blue Demons
#102 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#103 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#104 Seton Hall Pirates
#105 Providence Friars
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 South Carolina Gamecocks
#108 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#109 Penn State Nittany Lions
#110 Boston College Eagles
#111 Utah Utes

David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.

You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.


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