The upcoming women’s Big Sky basketball season will be one for the history books. With 12 big teams facing off, fans will be sitting at the edge of their seats on for the road to Reno.
Preseason polls help fans and teams understand what they will be up against and how the teams are expected to fall by the end of the season.
The Northern Colorado Bears are ranked number one by both the media and the coaches after finishing third and going 14-4 in conference play last season. Northern Colorado was a top contender in the Big Sky last season in key categories such as scoring margin (8.3), three-point percentages (.350) and assists (556).
The Bears return all five of their essential starters, giving them even more of a boost this season. Bears starter junior guard Savannah Smith was named the preseason all-Big Sky team as she averaged 15.9 points per game last season. The Bears also have returning senior point guard Savannah Scott, who lead the league in three-point percentage (45.0).
Next up on both polls is the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks. Last season North Dakota posted 15-3 BSC. UND also topped the league in total blocks (167) and blocks per game (5.4). One of the returning junior forward, Lexi Klabo will likely continue to add to those averages in the upcoming season after individually averaging 2.6 blocks per game.
The Montana Grizzlies are ranked third in the coaches poll and fifth in the media polls. Montana was ranked fifth in scoring defense (65.8 points per game) and three-point FG percentage allowed (.317) Another advantage to Montana is returning senior defensive scrapper Alycia Harris.
The Montana State Bobcats sit at fourth in the coaches polls and third in the media polls. As defending Big Sky Champions, they are still centered around most of the Big Sky title discussions. Returning senior guard Hannah Caudill will continue to make quakes on courts around the conference this upcoming season.
The Idaho Vandals are picked fifth in the coaches poll and fourth in the media poll. Idaho returns the 2016-2017 Big Sky’s leading scorer junior guard Mikayla Ferenz, who averaged 18.5 points per game in the previous season. Ferenz’s free throw percentage (88.8) also ranked second in the Big Sky and 10th in the NCAA.
The Portland State University Vikings are ranked sixth in the coaches’ poll and eighth in the media poll. All-Big Sky Selection senior guard Ashley Bolston will likely carry the team by preseason. Bolston was ranked fifth in the Big Sky Conference last season with 15.8 points per game.
Idaho’s conference rival, the Eastern Washington Eagles, are ranked seventh in the coaches poll and sixth in the media poll. They will be returning All-Big Sky Honoree senior Delaney Hodgins.
The Idaho State Bengals are slotted eighth in the coaches poll and seventh in the media poll. The Bengals nabbed an upset victory in last year’s Big Sky tournament as they topped No. 3 Seed Northern Colorado and eventually made it to the championship game.
Rounding out the tail end of the coaches’ poll, was Sacramento State in ninth, Weber State in 10th, Northern Arizona in 11th and Southern Utah University in 12th.
At the bottom of media poll was Weber State in ninth, Sacramento State in 10th, Northern Arizona in 11th and Southern Utah.
The Vandals will play the first game against Lewis-Clark State College 2:30 p.m. Nov. 5 in Memorial Gym.
Marisa Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org