OGDEN — The Weber State men's basketball team is ranked 19th in the first Collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 men's basketball poll of the 2011-12 season, which was released Monday. The Wildcats received 207 points in the poll.
Perennial mid-major power Gonzaga is the preseason No. 1. The Bulldogs of the West Coast Conference received 21 first-place votes and 740 total points. Butler, which has played for the NCAA championship each of the past two seasons, is No. 2. The Bulldogs of the Horizon League earned seven first-place votes and 698 total points.
The top five is rounded out by Creighton, Belmont and Wichita State. BYU earned one first-place vote and ended up ninth, while Utah Valley received five votes to be ranked.
The Wildcats have been picked by the media and coaches to the win the 2011-12 Big Sky Conference championship.
Weber State returns three starters from last year's squad, which finished third in the Big Sky with an 11-5 overall record. Head coach Randy Rahe returns for his sixth season with the Wildcats. Weber State also returns junior guard Damian Lillard, who missed most of the 2010-11 season with an injury. Lillard, considered one of the top mid-major players in the nation, was the Big Sky MVP in 2009-10. First team all-conference guard Scott Bamforth and first team all-conference forward Kyle Bullinger also return for the Wildcats.
Weber State will host an exhibition game on Nov. 7 against Colorado-Colorado Springs. The 2011-12 regular season will begin Nov. 11 when the 'Cats host Northern New Mexico.
The poll is made up of teams from the following conferences: America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Great West, Horizon, Independents, Ivy, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Southwestern, Summit, Sun Belt, and West Coast.