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Utah basketball team picked for 2nd in division

The University of Utah men's basketball team is projected to finish second in Western Athletic Conference 1997-98 Mountain Division this season, and the Utah women are projected to finish first in the division and in the conference.

In the WAC basketball media polls released today, New Mexico is favored to win the men's WAC title over Utah with the Utes and Fresno State challenging for the championship.With 40 first-place votes possible in the media poll, New Mexico received 12 votes to 11 for Utah and Fresno State's eight. In the Mountain Division, New Mexico had far more first-place votes than Utah, 21-14, but just edged the Utes in total points, 294-289. UNLV, CSU and Wyoming round out the Mountain men's top five.

Utah is rated highly despite the loss of NBA No. 2 draft pick Keith Van Horn. The poll was taken before most media members had heard about the patellar tendinitis that will sideline highly regarded freshman Britton Johnsen of Murray for six to eight weeks.

With first-year coach Steve Cleveland inheriting a one-win BYU team, BYU is picked to finish seventh in the division, just ahead of Air Force.

In the Pacific Division, the top five are runaway favorites Fresno State, followed by Texas Christian, Tulsa, Hawaii and Southern Methodist.

The Utah women are expected to easily repeat as Mountain Division champions, with Colorado State and New Mexico second and third. BYU is projected to finish fourth. In the WAC women's Pacific Division, the top three are Hawaii, San Diego State and Rice. Utah women feature one of the toughest backcourts in the conference in three-time All-WAC honoree Julie Krommenhoek and Alli Bills.

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Additional Information

WAC media poll

Men's Mountain Division

Rank, team Total points

1. New Mexico (21) 294

2. Utah (14) 289

3. UNLV (1) 251

4. Colorado State (1) 202

5. Wyoming 136

6. UTEP 128

7. BYU 84

8. Air Force 56

Men's WAC champion poll - New Mexico 12, Utah 11, Fresno 8, UNLV 4, Hawaii 2, Tulsa 2, Colorado State 1.

Women's Mountain Division

Rank, team Total points

1. Utah (12) 117

2. Colorado State (4) 108

3. New Mexico 90

4. Brigham Young 77

5. Wyoming 65

6. UTEP 50

7. UNLV 39

8. Air Force 22

Women's WAC champion poll - Utah 11, Colorado State 3, Hawaii 2.

First-place votes in parentheses.