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Sports >  EWU basketball

Big Sky media, coaches pick Eastern Washington men to finish middle of the pack

Oct. 26, 2022 Updated Wed., Oct. 26, 2022 at 6:09 p.m.

Eastern Washington Eagles guard Steele Venters (2) moves the ball past Northern Colorado Bears guard Bodie Hume (13) during the second half of a college basketball game on Saturday, Jan 22, 2022, at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. The Northern Colorado Bears won the game 87-83.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
Eastern Washington Eagles guard Steele Venters (2) moves the ball past Northern Colorado Bears guard Bodie Hume (13) during the second half of a college basketball game on Saturday, Jan 22, 2022, at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. The Northern Colorado Bears won the game 87-83. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
By Dan Thompson For The Spokesman-Review

Big Sky Conference media and coaches pegged the Eastern Washington and Idaho men’s basketball teams to finish this season right about where they ended last year in polls released on Wednesday.

The Eagles, under second-year coach David Riley, are fifth in both polls. The Vandals, under fourth-year coach Zac Claus, are ninth in both. Last season, Eastern finished sixth in the regular-season standings, three spots ahead of Idaho. Neither advanced past the quarterfinals of the conference tournament.

Atop both polls is Montana State, the conference’s defending regular-season and tournament champion. Northern Colorado, Montana and Weber State hold the next three spots.

Sacramento State is sixth, followed by Portland State and Northern Arizona, which are tied for seventh in the coaches’ poll. Idaho State is predicted to finish last in both.

The Big Sky has 10 teams this year, down from 11 after Southern Utah left the conference to join the now 13-team Western Athletic Conference.

Both Eastern and Idaho open their seasons on Nov. 7 on the road. The Eagles will be at Santa Clara, the Vandals at the University of Denver.

Idaho women land in top tier

In the women’s basketball polls, also released Wednesday, the Idaho women were predicted to finish fourth by the media and third by the coaches.

The Vandals received a first-place vote in the coaches’ poll. Conference favorite Montana State received the other nine.

Eastern Washington was picked to finish sixth in the coaches’ poll and eighth in the media poll.

The Eagles, in their second year under head coach Joddie Gleason, play a home exhibition game against Eastern Oregon on Sunday before opening their regular season Nov. 7 at home against Corban University, an NAIA program.

The Vandals, who have been coached by Jon Newlee since 2008, also have an exhibition home game Sunday (against Seattle Pacific) and open their season Nov. 7 at Utah.

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