New Mexico will need a point guard to get the ball to Elijah Brown this season. USATSI

The Mountain West Conference is at a crossroads.

What's exactly in store for this league during the 2016-17 season?

Check out below as we breakdown five offseason storylines in the Mountain West.

1. The Mountain West needs to prove that it's still a multi-bid league

The 2013 NCAA Tournament wasn't too long ago, but it might as well have been a decade when it comes to how things have changed in regard to the overall perception of this conference.

That year, the field of 68 saw five teams from the Mountain West Conference in the bracket while last year's tournament had just one team from this league -- Fresno State -- which heard its name called on Selection Sunday.

The Bulldogs earned the conference's automatic bid by winning the league tournament in Las Vegas and in turn, brought up a very serious question: is the Mountain West now potentially a one-bid league?

That question is sure to be answered this season.

San Diego State went 25-9 last year, had an RPI in the top-40, and won the conference's regular season title by three games, but failed to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament in a year where two programs -- SMU and Louisville -- were banned from the field of 68 due to violations.

The Mountain West needs its signature teams to shine nationally during the non-conference portion of the schedule in November and December.

2. San Diego State's talent looks to be a cut above the rest

The Aztecs lost two key front court contributors in Skylar Spencer and Angelo Chol, but Steve Fisher's squad returns more than enough to enter next season as a heavy favorite in the Mountain West.

San Diego State returns six players -- Jeremy Hemsley, Trey Kell, Malik Pope, Dakarai Allen, Matt Shrigley and Zylan Cheatham -- from last year's team while adding three transfers that figure to play major roles in Montaque Gill-Caesar (Missouri), Max Hoetzel (Indiana) and Valentine Izundu (Washington State).

Fisher told CBS Sports the 6-foot-9 Hoetzel has emerged as this program's best offensive rebounder during his redshirt year while the 6-6 Gill-Caesar is the type of interchangeable piece that the Aztecs have been known to have at their disposal over the past few years.

Look for the 6-10 Izundu to play a major role defensively thanks to his ability to protect the rim. He averaged 2.2 blocks last season at Washington State.

3. New Mexico needs to identify a point guard

Elite guard?


Grizzled post player?


Capable play maker?

That's where the Lobos have some questions.

Following Cullen Neal's decision to transfer to Ole Miss after last season, his father Craig Neal must now identify a new floor general to lead his team moving forward.

The two primary candidates are sophomore Jordan Hunter, who averaged 9.0 minutes and freshman Jalen Harris.

New Mexico boasts two first-team all-league players in Elijah Brown and Tim Williams, a hard-playing wing in Sam Logwood and a seasoned center in senior Obij Aget.

But it doesn't have a proven point guard.

How important has that been recently for this program?

The Lobos won 73.3 percent of their games and advanced to the NCAA Tournament three times during Hugh Greenwood's four-year stretch in Albuquerque between 2012 and 2015.

4. Expectations will be a new thing for Nevada

Eric Musselman has created a palpable buzz around his program after just one season in Reno which featured 24 wins and a CBI championship.

Now comes the hard part: dealing with expectations and winning games that you're expected win.

There's a growing consensus in college basketball circles that Nevada is in position to be a top-three team in the Mountain West moving forward alongside San Diego State and New Mexico -- a notion that's hard to ignore considering the way that Musselman has upgraded his talent base.

The Wolf Pack will add two starters this season in transfers Marcus Marshall (Missouri State) and Jordan Caroline (Southern Illinois) to go with sophomore big man Cameron Oliver, a burgeoning prospect at 6-9 who averaged 13.4 points and 9.1 rebounds last season as a freshman.

Nevada also has three impact transfers sitting out for the 2017-18 season in Caleb and Cody Martin (NC State) and Kendall Stephens (Purdue).

Musselman also returns two capable players who logged double-figure minutes last season in D.J. Fenner and Lindsey Drew while adding freshman Devearl Ramsey, a 5-10 guard who could have a major impact thanks to his ability to pressure the ball from foul line to foul line.

Add it all up and it looks as if the Wolf Pack are primed to rise in the Mountain West, but it's important to remember that getting guys to overachieve when your program is off the radar is much easier than dealing with seeing your name in bold print on a daily basis.

It will be up to Musselman to manage his team's mental state and for Marshall, a 6-3 guard who averaged 19.5 points two years ago, to give this team a reliable scorer that can get a bucket when his team needs one in crunch time.

We'll learn a lot about this team after a non-conference schedule that features road games at both Saint Mary's and Washington in addition to a home tilt against Oregon State.

5. Fresno State looks like a sleeper

Marvelle Harris put on a cape and was Superman for the Bulldogs last season, averaging 20.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 2.2 steals all while leading Fresno State to the NCAA Tournament.

There's no replacement for a player of that caliber and Rodney Terry's squad will also miss the experience of both Cezar Guerrero and Julien Lewis, but there's still more than enough talent in this program to be an absolute nuisance to play against.

Paul Watson, Karachi Edo, and Cullen Russo are all returning players who averaged over 20.0 minutes on last year's team that lost to Utah in the Round of 64 while a pair of transfers -- Jaron Hopkins (Colorado) and Deshon Taylor (UMKC) -- figure to be prominent members of this team's rotation.

The biggest newcomer though for the Bulldogs next season?

William McDowell-White.

The 6-5 freshman is the first five-star recruit that Terry has landed since he's been the head coach at Fresno State and will be a major name next year and beyond in the Mountain West.

This and That

  • How good was Elijah Brown last season for New Mexico? The 6-4 lefty scored 20 or more points in 18 of the Lobos' 33 games. Brown averaged 21.7 points and 5.5 rebounds in 2015-16.
  • UNLV fans are going to have to be patient with Marvin Menzies. The Runnin' Rebels only return two players -- Dwayne Morgan and Jalen Poyser -- who were regular contributors last season. Words can't describe how important the 2017 class is to the future of UNLV's program.
  • Utah State will add a key newcomer in freshman guard Koby McEwen. The 6-3 guard was a four-star recruit and was being recruiting by several schools in the Big 12, SEC, and ACC. This is a major addition for the Aggies, who return an all-conference front court player in bouncy forward Jalen Moore.
  • Boise State's Nick Duncan has become appointment television for the college basketball junkie. The 6-8, 245-pound big man looks like an offensive lineman, but has become one of the better pick-and-pop players in the sport. The Australia native has averaged 69 made 3-point shots over the past two seasons.
  • Two important dates for the perception of the Mountain West Conference: On Nov. 14 San Diego State will play at Gonzaga and on Dec. 20 New Mexico will go on the road to face Arizona in Tucson.