Lady Griz Picked Second in Preseason Polls

The Montana women’s basketball team hasn’t won a Big Sky Conference championship since sweeping the league’s regular-season and tournament titles in 2014-15.

Since then the Lady Griz haven’t had a top-three finish and have won just two Big Sky tournament games in seven postseason trips to Reno and Boise.

It’s been an unusual wilderness to wander for a program accustomed to success, with its 24 regular-season titles and 21 trips to the NCAA tournament from the early 80s through that 2014-15 season.

That’s getting closer and closer to being rectified.

Montana was picked second in both the coaches’ and media preseason polls that were announced on Wednesday morning by the league office.

The Lady Griz came in second in both behind Montana State, which was the heavy favorite by both the Big Sky coaches and media.

The Bobcats, who won the tournament title last March after tying for second, one game behind regular-season champion Idaho State, claimed nine of 10 first-place votes by the coaches, 24 of 26 by the media.

Montana received one first-place vote, in the media poll. Idaho collected one first-place vote in the coaches’ poll, Sacramento State one in the media poll.

Montana and Montana State, which returns eight of its top nine scorers from last season, split their games last year. The Bobcats won 73-59 in Bozeman, the Lady Griz won 71-57 in Missoula.

The teams will meet on Saturday, Jan. 21, this season in Missoula, Saturday, Feb. 18, in Bozeman.

Idaho State went 15-5 last season to win its second consecutive regular-season championship. Montana State and Southern Utah, which is no longer in the league, tied for second at 14-6.

Montana and Northern Arizona tied for fourth at 12-8. That matched the Lady Griz’ best finish since 2014-15.

Idaho, Northern Arizona and Sacramento State were picked third, fourth and fifth in the coaches’ poll and made up the top five behind Montana State and Montana in the media poll as well.

Idaho State, which has to replace its top five scorers from a season ago, was picked sixth in the media poll, eighth by the coaches.

Portland State, which went winless in league last season at 0-20, was picked last in both polls.

2022-23 Big Sky Conference Coaches’ Poll

  1. Montana State (9 first-place votes) … 81 points
  2. Montana … 65
  3. Idaho (1) … 62
  4. Northern Arizona … 60
  5. Sacramento State … 46
  6. Eastern Washington … 37
  7. Weber State … 31
  8. Idaho State … 30
  9. Northern Colorado … 28
  10. Portland State … 10

2022-23 Big Sky Conference Media Poll

  1. Montana State (24) … 257
  2. Montana (1) … 204
  3. Northern Arizona … 189
  4. Idaho … 187
  5. Sacramento State (1) … 146
  6. Idaho State … 132
  7. Northern Colorado … 102
  8. Eastern Washington … 98
  9. Weber State … 87
  10. Portland State … 28