IRVINE Ñ A media panel has picked the UC Davis womenÕs basketball team to win the Big West Conference crown this winter. That same group tabbed the UC Davis men’s basketball team to finish fourth, it was announced by the conference office Thursday.
The fourth-place vote marks the highest finish the Aggie men have had in the annual preseason poll. Joe Harden also was one of six players voted to the Preseason Media All-Conference Team.
The Aggie women also had two-time All-Big West first-team selection Paige Mintun voted to the six-player preseason all-conference team.
MenÕs recap Ñ UC Santa Barbara is picked to win the Big West, after receiving 20 first-place votes from the 23-member voting panel for a total of 204 points. The Gauchos, which captured both the conference co-regular season and tournament championships in 2009-10, return all five starters from the team that finished 20-10 overall.
Long Beach State is second with two first-place votes, followed by Pacific, who received the final first-place vote. UC Davis is followed by Cal Poly and UC Irvine in fifth and sixth place, respectively. Cal State Fullerton is in seventh, with Cal State Northridge and UC Riverside rounding out the poll.
UC Davis reached the semifinals of the Big West Tournament last season and return all-conference second-team selection Harden, along with senior Mark Payne. The Aggies received 126 points to finish fourth in the poll. Harden was the only senior named to the Preseason Media All-Conference Team.
UC Davis will host Menlo College on Wednesday in their first of two exhibition games. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at The Pavilion, and there is no charge for admission.
WomenÕs recap Ñ The Aggies, who return four starters and 10 letterwinners, finished 12-4 in league games last season, claiming its first-ever Big West regular-season title. They advanced to the Big West Tournament championship for the second time, falling to UC Riverside, but earning a WNIT bid where they extended eventual champion Cal to overtime in the first round.
UC Davis opens the upcoming season on Nov. 12 at San Francisco before hosting Washington State on Nov. 14 in the Aggies home opener. They’ll play an exhibition game against San Francisco State at 4:45 p.m. Wednesday at The Pavilion.
The Aggies received 16 of 25 first-place votes and 210 points overall in the preseason poll, finishing ahead of Cal Poly, which was picked second with four first-place votes and 183 points. The defending champion Highlanders (182 points) and UC Santa Barbara (164 points) received two and three first-place votes, respectively, to occupy the next two spots in the preseason predictions.
Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine, Long Beach State, Pacific and Cal State Northridge comprise the fifth through 10th spots in the poll.
Longtime coach Sandy Simpson announced last week that this season would be his last.