Darin Hogge, Weber State Athletics
Dusty Baker (center) drives with the ball at last year's Big Sky Conference Tournament. Baker is one of seven Wildcats returning this season.

For just the second time in the last 10 years, the Weber State men's basketball team is not the preseason favorite to win the league title. The Wildcats were picked to finish second in the Big Sky preseason media and coaches polls, released Friday by the conference.

The Idaho Vandals were picked to win the league in both the coaches and media polls. Idaho had 10 first-place votes in the coaches poll and totaled 117 points. The Vandals also received 12 first-place votes in the media poll for 211 points.

Weber State had been picked first in the Big Sky preseason polls eight of the previous nine years. The Wildcats were picked second in both polls this season, picking up one first-place vote in the coaches poll and 103 total points. WSU had three first-place votes in the media poll for 195 points.

"I always say we never put any stock in the preseason polls and this season is no different," said WSU head coach Randy Rahe who returns for his 12th season as head coach of the Wildcats. "We always have high expectations for our team. We have a good mix of returners and new players this year and I'm really excited about this team and ready to get started."

Montana was picked third in both polls, with Northern Colorado and Montana State finishing in a tie for fourth in the coaches poll. North Dakota was sixth followed by Eastern Washington, Portland State, Sacramento State, Idaho State, Northern Arizona and Southern Utah.

In the media poll, Montana was third followed by Montana State, North Dakota and Eastern Washington. Northern Colorado came in seventh, ahead of Sacramento State, Portland State, Northern Arizona, Idaho State and Southern Utah.

Weber State is coming off a 20-14 overall record last season and a third-place finish in the Big Sky at 12-6. The Wildcats advanced to the title game of the Big Sky Tournament and the second round of the CollegeInisder.com Tournament. Weber State lost three seniors from last year's team, including all-time leading scorer and 3-point shooter Jeremy Senglin.

WSU has seven letterwinners and three starters returning from last year's team. The returners include seniors Ryan Richardson and Dusty Baker, juniors Zach Braxton and Cody John and sophomores Jerrick Harding, Jordan Dallas and Brenden Morris. The Wildcats also welcome several new players, including junior Brekkott Chapman, a transfer from Utah, as well as six new freshmen.

Weber State hosts the Night with the Wildcats scrimmage on Wednesday, Oct. 18, and an exhibition game against Western State on Thursday, Nov. 2. The regular season begins Friday, Nov. 10, with a home game against Utah State.

Paul Grua is the Director of Athletic Communications at Weber State University.