BYU Selected Ninth In Preseason MWC Poll

Junior point guard Austin Ainge returns in 2005-06 as the Cougars' top scorer. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

San Diego State Favored To Win Title,

Aztecs' Marcus Slaughter Tabbed Top Returnee and Mohamed Abukar Named Top Newcomer

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Mountain West Conference released its men's basketball preseason media poll and all-conference team Thursday at the league's media day being held at the University Park Marriott in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Conference media selected San Diego State to claim the Mountain West Conference men's basketball title, marking the first time the Aztecs have been picked to win the crown. A league record five teams earned at least one first-place vote, with SDSU capturing 10-of-22 first-place votes and 173 points for the top spot in the poll. Defending regular-season champion Utah earned six first-place votes and finished second with 159 points, while UNLV, last year's top pick in the preseason poll, garnered three first-place votes and 137 points to place third. Air Force received two first-place votes and 123 points to finish fourth, followed by 2005 MWC Tournament champion New Mexico in the fifth-place spot with 120 points. League newcomer TCU was chosen sixth in the poll with 89 points and Wyoming was seventh with 74 points, despite receiving a first-place vote. Colorado State (65) and BYU (50) rounded out the poll.

Utah advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 last year after capturing the regular-season MWC title with a 13-1 mark, while New Mexico was the league's automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament after winning the MWC Tournament crown. The Lobos became the sixth different team to win the MWC Tournament the past six years. Utah has won or shared the MWC regular-season title four of the past six years.

Overall, the MWC has had 11 NCAA Tournament appearances the past four years. Since 2002, all nine MWC teams have participated in postseason play at least once, including TCU's run to the NIT quarterfinals last season. With the Lobos' NCAA appearance in 2005, all eight charter members of the MWC have participated in the NCAA Tournament at least once in the last six years. TCU's last appearance in the NCAA Tournament was in 1998.

Four teams were represented on the preseason all-MWC team with San Diego State earning Top Returning Player (Marcus Slaughter) and Top Newcomer (Mohamed Abukar) honors. Two seniors, two juniors and a sophomore made up this year's preseason all-MWC team.

Preseason Media Poll

School (First Place Votes) Points

1. San Diego State (10) 173

2. Utah (6) 159

3. UNLV (3) 137

4. Air Force (2) 123

5. New Mexico 120

6. TCU 89

7. Wyoming (1) 74

8. Colorado State 65

9. BYU 50

Preseason All-MWC

Marcus Slaughter, Jr., F, San Diego State

Brandon Heath, Jr., G, San Diego State

Jason Smith, So., C, Colorado State

Nick Welch, Sr., C, Air Force

Bryant Markson, Sr., F, Utah

Top Returning Player

Marcus Slaughter, Jr., F, San Diego State

Top Newcomer

Mohamed Abukar, Jr., F, San Diego State