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The Colorado State men’s basketball team was picked to place seventh in the Mountain West in the preseason poll, announced Wednesday at the annual Media Day event at The Renaissance Las Vegas. This is the second consecutive year that the Rams have been selected in the seventh slot.

For the fourth consecutive year, San Diego State is the preseason favorite to finish the 2016-17 regular season in first place, as the Aztecs received 23 of a possible 27 first-place votes and 293 points to garner the top spot in the poll. Nevada claimed the second spot, earning 234 points, while New Mexico received three first-place votes and 249 points to finish third.

Defending champion Fresno State, which received one first-place vote, collected 200 points for fourth place, followed by Boise State in fifth (164 points) and Utah State (153 points) in sixth. Rounding out the poll were Colorado State (146 points) in seventh, UNLV (120 points) in eighth, Air Force (90 points) in ninth, Wyoming (73 points) in 10th and San José State (41 points) in 11th.

Last year, CSU battled through injuries to tie for sixth and eventually advanced to the Mountain West Tournament Semifinals, where the Rams lost to eventual champion Fresno State. This year, Colorado State returns senior starters Gian Clavell and Emmanuel Omogbo, leading a squad with five returners and five players who will see their first collegiate action in Fort Collins.

The Rams enter the 2016-17 season charged with replacing the production of four starters from last year’s team, including leading scorer and second-team All-MW selection Antwan Scott, four-year starter Joe DeCiman, forward Tiel Daniels and guard John Gillon. However, head coach Larry Eustachy has shown his ability to bring teams together, as he is the winningest coach over a four-year period at CSU with 87 wins and is just 11 victories shy of becoming the 61st coach with 500 Division I wins.

Since beginning its run of six postseason invitations in seven seasons dating back to the 2009-10 season, Colorado State has proven to be better than predicted on five occasions, and finished below their predicted finish just once. Last year, CSU was picked to finish seventh and ended in a tie for sixth and the tournament semifinal berth, earning a postseason invitation that was eventually declined. Prior to that, the Rams finished better than predicted placing fifth (predicted eighth) to earn a CBI invite in 2010, grabbing fourth place despite a fifth-place predicted finish to capture an NIT bid in 2011, finished second en route to a 26-9 record and a second-consecutive NCAA tournament berth in 2013 (predicted fourth), and last season notching a third-place finish while setting a program-best mark with 27 wins and an NIT berth to notch a stretch of postseason appearances unmatched in program history. The Rams also finished fourth, as predicted, and earned an NCAA tournament bid in 2011-12.

New Mexico’s Elijah Brown received Preseason Mountain West Player of the Year honors, while San Diego State’s Montaque Gill-Caesar garnered Preseason MW Newcomer of the Year accolades and SDSU’s Jalen McDaniels and Utah State’s Koby McEwen earned the Preseason MW Co-Freshmen of the Year nod.

Rk. Team (First-Place Votes) Pts.
1. San Diego State (23) 293
2. Nevada 253
3. New Mexico (3) 249
4. Fresno State (1) 200
5. Boise State 164
6. Utah State 153
7. Colorado State 146
8. UNLV 120
9. Air Force 90
10. Wyoming 73
11. San José State 41

Pos. Player Yr. Team
G Elijah Brown* Jr. New Mexico
G Trey Kell* Jr. San Diego State
W Jalen Moore*** Sr. Utah State
F Cameron Oliver*** So. Nevada
F Tim Williams** Sr. New Mexico

Preseason Player of the Year
Elijah Brown, Jr., G, New Mexico

Preseason Co-Freshmen of the Year
Jalen McDaniels, F, San Diego State
Koby McEwen, G, Utah State

Preseason Newcomer of the Year
Montaque Gill-Caesar, So., G, San Diego State

* member of the 2015-16 All-Mountain West first team
** member of the 2015-16 All-Mountain West second team
*** member of the 2015-16 All-Mountain West third team