Idaho has been picked to finish first by the media and the coaches in Big Sky Conference preseason polls released Friday by the league office.
Idaho is followed by Weber State and Montana in both polls for the upcoming 2017-18 season. The media picked Montana State fourth, North Dakota fifth and Eastern Washington sixth. The coaches picked Northern Colorado and Montana State in a fourth-place tie, followed by UND and EWU.
The Vandals return their top seven scorers from last year and bring back Perrion Callandret for his redshirt senior season. In all, Idaho returns nearly 85 percent of its scoring and 75 percent of its rebounding from last year’s squad that finished 12-6 and tied for third in the Big Sky.
In 2016-’17, the Vandals advanced to the Big Sky Tournament semifinals before falling to eventual champion North Dakota. Idaho took a bid to the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament, where it defeated Stephen F. Austin before falling to Texas State in the quarterfinals.
Idaho’s upcoming season includes six games against teams that won conference championships a season ago. The Vandals open the season on Nov. 10 at defending Mountain West champ Nevada before returning home to take on George Fox on Nov. 13 and Sam Houston State on Nov. 18. The annual Battle of the Palouse makes its way to Moscow this season, with Washington State crossing the border on Dec. 6.
Senior guard Victor Sanders, who averaged nearly 21 points per game a year ago, leads a veteran cast for the Vandals. Sanders was selected to the Preseason All-Big Sky Team, as announced by the league on Thursday.