PARK CITY, Utah - The final day of the Big Sky Kickoff event started with the releasing of the coaches' and media preseason polls for the newly-expanded league. Big Sky media members pegged North Dakota to finish sixth, while the 13 Big Sky head coaches voted the new member to finish 10th.
The top five teams were the same in both polls with reigning co-champion Montana State leading the way. The Bobcats were followed by 2010 national champion Eastern Washington, the other 2011 co-champion Montana, Portland State and Cal Poly. The Mustangs, who shared the 2011 Great West title with UND, was the only new league member in the top five.
UND's sixth-standing in the media poll was just above Weber State, who was one of five teams receiving a first-place vote. Slots six through 10 in the coaches' poll were only separated by a total of 13 points. The gap between UND and Idaho State - the 11th-place team in the coaches' poll, was 38 points.
"It was nice to see the media pick us in the top half of the league, but the coaches had us in the bottom half," UND head coach Chris Mussman said. "At the end of the day, they are just preseason polls, but it's a start and our players know the challenges we'll face in this league. All 13 teams are really good and this thing could end up in a number of different ways."
BIG SKY CONFERENCE PRESEASON POLLS
|1.||Montana State (30)||502|
|2.||Eastern Washington (3)||453|
|5.||Cal Poly (1)||323|
|7.||Weber State (1)||284|
|1.||Montana State (7)||136|
|2.||Eastern Washington (4)||131|
|8.||Southern Utah (1)||74|
UND will open the 2012 season on Thursday, Aug. 30 vs. South Dakota School of Mines at 7 p.m. The Big Sky opener for UND will be a road contest at Sacramento State on Sept. 22.
- UND -