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Preseason polls missed the boat on Aggies, Wildcats

What are some of the most useless things in the world?

Spam jelly, perhaps? Or how about the proverbial screen door on a submarine? And don’t forget the old eight-track player, or that goofy thing called the pet rock.

Of course, the cynic in me would say a politician’s campaign promises are usually pretty darned useless, too.

And here’s one more for you: preseason polls.

Yes, when it comes to college and high school sports, we love preseason polls, don’t we?

I suppose they provide some food for thought, ammunition for teams’ fans to pound their chests with pride or give opposing teams’ fans grief, and to help gauge where a particular team’s expectations might be each year.

Emphasis on “might,” because quite often, preseason polls are about as useless as all those eight-track tapes you’ve still got stashed in a closet in your basement.

Mind you, those polls aren’t always a pile of junk.

After all, in the Pac-12 men’s basketball preseason rankings last fall, Arizona was a near-unanimous selection as the league’s top team, with Utah picked second. Sure enough, with two weeks left in the regular season, Arizona and Utah are tied for first place and stand tall above the rest as the league’s top two teams this year.

BYU, meanwhile, was picked second in the West Coast Conference preseason poll, and the Cougars find themselves sitting in third place in the WCC standings with one more week to go before the league’s postseason tournament.

So the preseason pollsters did pretty darn well with their Utah and BYU picks this season.

But when it comes to Utah State and Weber State, well, let’s just say not so much.

The Aggies were picked to finish a lowly 10th in the Mountain West Conference preseason media poll last October. (Nobody ever said those media guys were very bright, anyhow).

“With the inexperience of our team, it is understood why we are picked at the bottom of the Mountain West Conference,” head coach Stew Morrill said at the time the poll results were released. “Certainly, we hope to prove those predictions wrong, and hopefully our players will use the poll as motivation on a daily basis.”

Well, prove them wrong they have.

With two weeks left in the MWC regular-season race, the Aggies are in fifth place in the league standings, ahead of five schools that were tabbed to finish ahead of them — including New Mexico and UNLV, which were picked third and fourth, respectively, in the poll and currently sit seventh and eighth instead.

Utah State has been getting strong play from homegrown sophomore forward Jaylen Moore (Sky View), freshman forward David Collette (Murray High) and junior guards Chris Smith and Darius Perkins, who have each turned in solid performances for an Aggie squad that has struggled to find success since joining the Mountain West in 2013.

It’s been good to see them find that success this season.

And then there’s Weber State, which went to the NCAA tournament last year and, for the sixth time in seven years, was picked to win the Big Sky Conference championship this season.

Indeed, the Big Sky media and coaches selected the Wildcats to win the conference title again in their preseason polls last October — and by a wide margin. But thus far, the ‘Cats have fallen far short of those predictions.

After Saturday night’s loss at Montana, WSU is sitting just eighth in the Big Sky standings and in danger of not even qualifying for the league’s postseason tournament.

That comes as a rude awakening for this proud program that has been a title contender virtually every year since Randy Rahe took ahold of the program’s reins nine years ago.

“It’s always an honor to be picked first in the polls,” Rahe, who has averaged 21 wins per season in his first eight years at WSU, said last fall. “We were able to have some success last year, but this is a new season. I never put too much stock in the polls, but we always have high expectations for our team.”

Some uncharacteristic home-court defeats and two head-scratching losses to a Southern Utah squad that has just eight wins all season long have been most perplexing.

And then a week and a half ago, the Wildcats’ hopes took another devastating blow when they lost leading scorer Jeremy Senglin, a sophomore guard, with a broken jaw.

Picked No. 1 before the season started, Weber State’s quest to repeat as Big Sky champs looks about as appetizing as spam jelly right now.

EMAIL: rhollis@desnews.com