WAC preseason basketball rankings

With exhibition season wrapping up for college basketball it is time to debut this blogs weekly power rankings. These first rankings are based on the preseason media ballot the Deseret News filled out.

With each season hope flourishes from every campus in America that maybe this season is their season, so included in this week’s rankings are a reason for each team to believe that this is their year.

No. 9 Hawaii

Upcoming: vs. Montana State 11/12, vs. Cal State Fullerton 11/13, vs. Central Michigan 11/15.

Exhibition Season: won vs. Chaminade 83-55

Reason for hope: Bill Amis returns after missing all last season with a foot injury. Amis combines with new coach Gib Arnold, and Arizona transfer Zane Johnson should be able to improve on last years three-win WAC campaign.

No. 8 Idaho

Upcoming: vs. Eastern Oregon 11/13

Exhibition Season: won vs. Northwest Christian 81-35, won vs. Lewis-Clark State College 70-59

Reason for hope: Five of the Vandals’ top six players graduated after last season, which may not be such a bad thing, considering the Vandals finished 7th in the conference last season.

No. 7 Fresno State

Upcoming: @ BYU 11/12

Exhibition Season: won vs. Fresno Pacific 71-50

Reason for hope: The Bulldogs lost a lot of players from last season, including eventual first-round draft pick Paul George. However, Fresno does return WAC Freshman of the Year and future first-round draft pick Greg Smith.

No. 6 Louisiana Tech

Upcoming: @ Texas 11/10, vs. Austin College 11/13

Exhibition Season: won vs. Champion Baptist College 84-45

Reason for hope: Kerry Rupps’ Bulldogs lost quite a few pieces, but Rupp is still one of the best coaches in the conference. Olu Ashalou is going to be a mismatch for most of the league and DeAndre Brown might be the best returning point guard in the conference.

No. 5 San Jose State

Upcoming: @ Eastern Washington 11/12

Exhibition Season: won vs. Whitman 109-92

Reason for hope: There are few players in the nation who can guard Adrian Oliver. If the defense can improve from last year the Spartans have a legit shot at contending.

No. 4 Boise State

Upcoming: vs. Western State 11/13

Exhibition Season: won vs. Montana Tech 77-58, won vs. Adams State 83-72

Reason for hope: In a conference that saw almost every team lose a huge chunk of their returning scorers, the Broncos bring back several key pieces, including All-WAC honorable mention recipient Daequon Montreal. Along with Montreal, the Broncos have Robert Arnold, sharpshooter Paul Noonan and defensive specialist LaShard Anderson.

No. 3 Nevada

Upcoming: vs. Montana 11/13

Exhibition Season: lost vs. Seattle Pacific (84-81)

Reason for hope: Players come and go but somehow the Wolfpack stay near the top of the standings every season. Nevada brought in a talented set of recruits and transfers; when they gel as a team they will be dangerous.

No. 2 New Mexico State

Upcoming: @ Louisiana 11/12

Exhibition Season: won vs. Eastern New Mexico 98-72

Reason for hope: Marvin Menzies crew has one of the most talented front courts in the west with Wendell McKinnes, Troy Gillenwater, and Hamidu Rahman. As long as McKinnes heals from a foot injury the Aggies will challenge for a second straight NCAA bid.

No. 1 Utah State

Upcoming: vs. Weber State 11/13

Exhibition Season: won vs. Laval 93-51, won vs. Grand Canyon 76-46

Reason for hope: The Aggies bring back nearly everyone from last seasons WAC championship team. Brockeith Pane also looks to be more than an adequate replacement for the graduated Jared Quayle. If Nate Bendall is out for a significant period of time the Aggies will be small, but will still be favorites to win their fourth consecutive WAC crown.

Kraig is a 2010 Utah State University graduate and regular Deseret News sports blogger. He can be reached at DesNewsKraig@gmail.com or followed on Twitter at DesNewsKraig.

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