A well-regarded college hoops analyst has pegged San Diego State as the favorite in the Mountain West conference in the coming season.
Jon Rothstein, of CBS Sports and host of the “College Hoops Today” podcast, said if team “… just stays the course” the Aztecs should earn the automatic bid to the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
The factors, he said, include returning three of SDSU’s top six scorers from last year (Matt Mitchell, Jordan Schakel and Nathan Mensah) and the addition of graduate transfer Terrell Gomez.
Rothstein made his announcement on Twitter last week and spoke with Head Coach Brian Dutcher later on the podcast.
Mountain West Preseason Power Rankings:
1. San Diego State
2. Boise State
3. Utah State
5. Colorado State
6. New Mexico
8. Fresno State
10. San Jose State
11. Air Force
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) August 31, 2020
“I feel (sorry) for our seniors last season, who never had a chance to go (to the NCAA Tournament), but we return a big part of that team (this year). So, our focus is to make up for lost ground, try to have another great year and get to the dance,” Dutcher told Rothstein.
When asked about his team for the upcoming season, Dutcher said – citing Mitchell, Schakel, Trey Pulliam and the addition of fifth-year seniors like Gomez – “I see a veteran team again, which I love … So, we have great veteran leadership and usually, in the Mountain West, that means great success.”
Rothstein includes Mitchell among his picks for preseason All-Mountain West honors. The senior, selected by the league’s coaches as a first-team All-Mountain West performer last season, played in all 32 games, starting the final 19.
He averaged 12.2 points and 4.8 rebounds. He shot 46.8% from the floor, 39.3% from three-point range and 87.3% from the free throw line, all career-highs.
“Matt has been working out on his own (due to the pandemic), and looks in great shape,” Dutcher said. “I’m expecting great things from him, not only as a scorer, but the truly greats are great playmakers. I want to see that part of Matt’s game grow.”
– Staff reports
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