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SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento State has been selected to finish eighth in the Big Sky Conference preseason media poll and ninth in the coaches poll, it was announced today by the league office. The Hornets were selected in the same exact order in the preseason polls a year ago, and the team eventually finished seventh with a 9-9 conference record.

Idaho, which returns all five starters from a team that went 12-6 in league a year ago, was selected to finish first in both polls. In the coaches poll, the Vandals were followed by Weber State, Montana, Northern Colorado, Montana State, North Dakota, Eastern Washington, Portland State, Sacramento State, Idaho State, Northern Arizona and Southern Utah, respectively. Northern Colorado and Montana State were tied for fourth in the poll.

The top three spots in the media poll were the same with Idaho, Weber State and Montana taking up the top three spots, respectively. They were followed by fourth place Montana State, North Dakota, Eastern Washington, Northern Colorado, Sacramento State, Portland State, Northern Arizona, Idaho State and Southern Utah, respectively.

The Hornets will look to better those predictions next month when they open the 2017-18 season with a home exhibition on Nov. 3 vs. UC Santa Cruz followed by the regular season opener on Nov. 10 at Colorado State.

Sacramento State is coming off a 2016-17 season in which the team went 13-18 overall and 9-9 in league. The Hornets began the season with a 3-8 non-conference record, and then fell to 3-11 overall and 0-3 in the Big Sky. However, an 88-83 win at Southern Utah on Jan. 12 began a streak in which the Hornets won 10 of their final 17 games. Included in that run was a victory over Idaho State in the first round of the Big Sky Tournament.

The Hornets welcome back eight players from a year ago, including three starters. Among those starters are the top two scorers from a year ago in senior forward Justin Strings (15.9 ppg) and senior guard Marcus Graves (13.9 ppg). Those two combined to average 29.8 of the Hornets' average of 71.1 points per game, good for over 40 percent of the team's scoring production. Either Graves or Strings led the team in scoring in 19 of 31 games a year ago. Sophomore guard Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa (4.6 ppg) started 28 games a year ago, and was one of the team's best defenders. Strings and Graves are this year's team captains.

For the third straight season, the Big Sky Tournament (March 6-10) will take place in Reno, Nev., at the downtown Reno Events Center. All 12 conference teams will participate in the event.

Sacramento State had its first official team practice on Sept. 29. After the team's exhibition game on Nov. 3, the Hornets will play seven of their first eight regular season games away from the Nest. Included in that first month of the season is the team's home opener against Notre Dame de Namur on Nov. 14, and the annual basketball version of the Causeway Classic against UC Davis on Nov. 21 at the Golden 1 Center.

Coaches Poll
Team - Points (First Place Votes)
1. Idaho - 117 (10)
2. Weber State - 103 (1)
3. Montana - 101
T-4. Northern Colorado - 83 (1)
T-4. Montana State - 83
6. North Dakota - 71
7. Eastern Washington - 65
8. Portland State - 55
9. Sacramento State - 48
10. Idaho State - 25
11. Northern Arizona - 23
12. Southern Utah - 19
First place votes in parenthesis
Media Poll
Team - Points (First Place Votes)
1. Idaho - 211 (12)
2. Weber State - 195 (3)
3. Montana - 188 (3)
4. Montana State - 180
5. North Dakota - 146 (1)
5. Eastern Washington - 144
7. Northern Colorado - 106
8. Sacramento State - 87
9. Portland State - 76
10. Northern Arizona - 59
11. Idaho State - 52
12. Southern Utah - 38