Air Force men's basketball is facing an uphill climb this season, and the Mountain West's preseason poll confirmed as much.
Colorado State's season hinges on the health of star lead guard Isaiah Stevens.
The Falcons received the fewest votes to finish 11th in the projected standings, eight votes behind San Jose State. The two were also picked to finish at the bottom of the conference last season, though the margin was 17 votes.
Air Force will welcome a program-record 19 opponents to Clune Arena in coach Joe Scott's third year as it looks to build on an 11-18 record last season — followed by a first-round, Mountain West tournament elimination. The Falcons went 4-13 in conference play.
A.J. Walker's graduation is the largest roster change from last year. Sophomore Ethan Taylor will largely be tasked with replacing his production after a standout first year.
The team begins its campaign Nov. 7 at Bowling Green before a seven-game home stand.
CSU was picked to finish fourth. Stevens was named to the preseason all-conference team but will miss a portion of the season due to a foot injury.
Wyoming junior Graham Ike, a Denver-area product, was named the favorite to win Mountain West Player of the Year.
2022-23 MOUNTAIN WEST PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
(First-Place Votes) Points
1. San Diego State (16) 216
2. Wyoming (4) 204
3. Boise State 166
4. Colorado State 156
5. New Mexico 136
6. UNLV 110
7. Fresno State 101
8. Utah State96
9. Nevada 73
10. San Jose State 35
11. Air Force 27
2022-23 PRESEASON ALL-MOUNTAIN WEST TEAM
G Isaiah Stevens, Sr., Colorado State
G Jamal Mashburn Jr., Jr. New Mexico
G Matt Bradley Sr., San Diego State
F Graham Ike, Jr., Wyoming
G Hunter Maldonado, Sr., Wyoming
Preseason Player of the Year
Graham Ike, Jr., F, Wyoming
Preseason Newcomer of the Year
Darrion Trammell, Sr., G, San Diego State
Preseason Freshman of the Year
Joseph Hunter, G, Fresno State