OGDEN — Winning a conference championship brings its share of expectations. Losing the conference MVP, likewise, takes away some.

Weber State, the reigning Big Sky champ, was voted by both the media and the coaches as one of the favorites to win this season's title. Without David Patten, though, the Wildcats aren't a clear-cut favorite in the eyes of anyone.

The conference released its preseason polls on Thursday and WSU was tabbed, along with Montana, by the coaches as the favorite. According to the media, though, Montana will be the best team.

In the coaches poll, the Wildcats received four first-place votes — as did Montana. Portland State received one, and after all the points were counted, Weber State ended up on top of the poll with 60 points. The Grizzlies received 57 points and PSU had 52.

The Grizzlies received 14 of 26 first-place votes and 218 points from the media while WSU had eight votes and 200 points.

The Wildcats finished last season with a 20-12 record and a 11-5 mark in Big Sky games, sharing the regular season title with Northern Arizona. WSU won the conference tournament to advance to the NCAA tourney, losing to UCLA in the first round.

With three starters returning, the 'Cats figure to be a threat again. This time, though, they won't sneak up on anyone like they did in Randy Rahe's first season as coach in Ogden. Seniors Dezmon Harris and Arturas Valeika join junior guard Juan Pablo Silveira as returning starters.

Montana also has a veteran team with all-conference forwards Andrew Strait and Jordan Hasquet.

— Jared Eborn

Coaches" Poll School (First-place votes)....... Points

1. Weber State (4)........... 60

2. Montana (4).......... 57

3. Portland State (1)......... 52

4. Northern Arizona............... 44

5. Idaho State.................. 37

6. Montana State............. 33

7. Northern Colorado.......... 19

8. Eastern Washington......... 15

9. Sacramento State............ 12

Media Poll School (First-place votes)....... Points

1. Montana (14).................... 218

2. Weber State (8)................. 200

3. Portland State (2)............... 183

4. Northern Arizona (2)............. 155

5. Montana State.................... 114

6. Idaho State....................... 111

7. Sacramento State.................... 74

8. Northern Colorado.................. 56

9. Eastern Washington........55