MWC Preseason Poll Announced

BYU guard Mike Hall is expected to lead the Cougars in 2003-04 and be among the top players in the conference, although no guards were named to the All-MWC Preseason Team Sunday. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

DENVER, Colo. - The Mountain West Conference released its men's basketball preseason media poll and all-conference team today at the league's media day being held at the Denver Renaissance Hotel.

The league media selected UNLV to claim the Mountain West Conference men's basketball title, marking the first time the Runnin' Rebels were picked first in the MWC preseason poll. UNLV tallied 182 total points and 14 of 25 first-place votes. Defending MWC Tournament champion Utah earned seven first-place votes and finished second in the poll with 169 points, while defending MWC regular season champion Air Force came in third-its highest-ever pick in the MWC poll-with 142 points and four first-place votes. New Mexico placed fourth with 122 points, followed by BYU (92), Colorado State (87), San Diego State (71) and Wyoming (35).

Air Force posted a 12-2 mark in MWC play last season and was the only team in the nation to win a regular season title after being selected last in the league's preseason poll. The Falcons, who advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1962, became the fifth MWC team in as many years to win at least a share of the MWC regular season crown. BYU and Utah also advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season after finishing second and third, respectively, in the conference. Overall, the MWC has had nine NCAA Tournament appearances the past three years and is the only conference to have all its members participate in the postseason at least once in that span.

Six teams were represented on the preseason all-MWC team with New Mexico's Danny Granger earning Top Returning Player honors. Three centers and two forwards made up the preseason all-MWC squad, while Wyoming forward/center Justin Williams was named Top Newcomer.

PRESEASON MEDIA POLL

Pl. School (First Place Votes) Points

1. UNLV (14) 182

2. Utah (7) 169

3. Air Force (4) 142

4. New Mexico 122

5. BYU 92

6. Colorado State 87

7. San Diego State 71

8. Wyoming 35

PRESEASON ALL-MWC

Danny Granger, Sr., F, New Mexico

Odartey Blankson, Sr., F, UNLV

Andrew Bogut, So., F, Utah

Matt Nelson, Sr., C, Colorado State

Nick Welch, Sr., C, Air Force

TOP RETURNING PLAYER

Danny Granger, Sr., F, New Mexico

TOP NEWCOMER

Justin Williams, Jr., F/C, Wyoming