Despite Cal Poly’s men’s basketball’s strong second half last season, including their victory over last year’s Big West champion UC Davis, Cal Poly is projected to finish last in the Big West media poll this season. With 216 points, UC Irvine is the preseason pick to win the 2017-2018 Big West championship.
UC Irvine finished last year with a 12-4 conference record and is returning Jonathan Galloway, the 2016-2017 Big West Conference Defensive Player of the Year. UC Davis, led by Chima Moneke and Siler Schneider, is predicted to finish second with seven first-place votes and 189 total points. Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State and Hawaii round out the top five.
The 26-member media panel gave Cal Poly 70 points, one point less than eighth-place finisher UC Riverside and three points less than seventh-place finisher Cal State Northridge.
Both Sports Illustrated (SI) and ESPN’s preseason rankings of every team in college basketball (1-351) are kinder to the Mustangs. SI ranks Cal Poly the 277th best team in college hoops, and sixth in the Big West. ESPN ranked the Mustangs 290th in the nation and eighth in the Big West.
In addition, no Mustangs were selected for the preseason Big West All-Conference team. Cal State Northridge’s Tavrion Dawson, Long Beach State’s Gabe Levin and Temidayo Yussuf, UC Davis’s Moneke and Cal State Fullerton’s Jackson Rowe complete the media preseason all-conference team.
But head coach Joe Callero isn’t fazed by the lack of love the Mustangs are getting.
“It’s not about what somebody thinks,” Callero said. “We could have had four players selected to be players to watch and selected to be first in our conference and I would give you the same answer. It doesn’t matter if we’re picked first, middle or last. I’m not against polls and predictions. It’s something for fans and the media. The reality is the only thing that matters is how we finish the year.”
The Mustangs start their season this weekend in the Bay Area as they take on Stanford on Friday, Nov. 10 and UC Berkeley on Sunday.