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UND picked fourth

OGDEN, Utah — Defending Big Sky Tournament champion Idaho State and Northern Arizona each garnered four first-place votes to tie for the top spot in the league’s preseason poll announced Tuesday.

League newcomer Idaho and North Dakota each had a pair of top votes and finished third and fourth in the tightly contested poll, respectively.

“I don’t think any coach really puts too much time and effort into a preseason poll,” said UND coach Mark Pryor, who’s entering his first season as head coach. “All those polls reveal is how the coaches think conference teams are going to look on paper. Fortunately, we don’t play on loose leaf. We play on the court.”

ISU took the No. 3 seed in the postseason tournament and defeated both of the top two seeds, including host Portland State, en route to an NCAA Tournament appearance a season ago. PSU took sixth in this season’s poll with Northern Colorado just a few votes in front of them at five.

Eastern Washington was seventh with Sacramento State at eighth. The Montana schools are ninth (Montana) and 10th (Montana State), respectively, with Weber State and Southern Utah rounding out the poll.

North Dakota begins defense of its regular season championship this year as the regular season opens on Aug. 29 in Washington, D.C. for the George Washington Invitational. The Big Sky Conference opener is Sept. 25 when EWU comes to Grand Forks to start a 16-match league slate.

The eight-team league championship will be held Nov. 20-22 at the site of the regular-season champion.