The Eastern Washington men's basketball team is picked for a high finish in the Big Sky Conference.
Despite missing the postseason the last two years, the Eagles are picked to finish second by Big Sky Coaches and third by the media,the conference announced Thursday.
Defending champion Weber State is picked to repeat at the top. The coaches selected Eastern Washington second, followed by Northern Arizona and Sacramento State. Eastern Washington earned one first-place vote and 100 points. Northern Arizona garnered two first-place votes and 99 points. Sacramento State received a first-place vote and 90 points. It marked the first time the Hornets have received a first-place vote in a Big Sky men’s basketball preseason poll. Portland State was selected fifth with 80 points.
The media tabbed Northern Arizona second with four first-place votes and 339 total points. Eastern Washington was third with one first-place vote and 318 total points. Sacramento State was fourth with 298 points, followed closely by Montana with 297.
Big Sky newcomer Idaho is picked seventh by the coaches and eighth by the media.
League teams will play 18 conference games this season, competing against seven teams twice, and the other four teams once. The top eight teams will advance to the 2015 Big Sky Conference Championship, which will be held at the site of the regular-season champion starting on Thursday, March 12.
Eastern Washington has failed to advance to the conference championship the past two seasons, but appears ready to challenge for a league title in Jim Hayford’s fourth season at the helm. Junior guard Tyler Harvey returns along with three other starters. Harvey led the Big Sky in scoring last season, averaging 21.8 points per game. He was also among the national leaders in 3-point field goals made per game (3.5) and 3-point field-goal percentage (.433).