BYU Favored to Win MWC Basketball Title

The MWC league media today selected BYU's senior laden team to win the Mountain West Conference men's basketball title with 144 total points and 13 of 19 first-place votes. Two Cougars, <b>Rafael Araujo</B> and <b>Mark Bigelow</b>, were also named to the preseason All-MWC team.

Utah, a perennial preseason favorite, was picked second with 138 points and was the only other team to garner first place votes with six.

Colorado State, the defending MWC tournament champion, came in third with 107 points, followed by UNLV fourth with 97. Wyoming placed fifth with 73 points, followed by San Diego State (55), New Mexico (36), and Air Force (35).

The Cougars and Utes shared the conference's regular season crown last season with 11-3 records. BYU (23-9 overall) lost to Connecticut in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Utah (25-8 overall), defeated Oregon in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last season before losing to Kentucky in the second round.

The Mountain West Conference has sent six of its eight teams to the postseason each of the past two seasons. It is also the only league in the country to have sent 75 percent of its members to the postseason two straight years.

Preseason MWC Media Poll

School (First Place Votes) Points
1. BYU (13) 144
2. Utah (6) 138
3. Colorado State 107
4. UNLV 97
5. Wyoming 73
6. San Diego State 55
7. New Mexico 36
8. Air Force 35

Preseason All-MWC Team

Tim Keller, Jr., G, Air Force
Rafael Araujo, Sr., C, BYU
Mark Bigelow, Sr., F, BYU
Matt Nelson, Jr., C, Colorado State
Tim Frost, Sr., F, Utah
Nick Jacobson, Sr., G, Utah

All-MWC preseason Cougar bios:

Rafael Araujo (6-10, 265, Sr.) - Third-team All-MWC in 2002-03 as BYU's top rebounder (8.9) and third-leading scorer (12.0). He was second among MWC players in rebounds and recorded double-digit rebounds in 13 games. Led BYU in scoring nine times and reached double-figures in 18 contests. Araujo also ranked second on the team in steals (1.4) and was third among all MWC players in thefts in league games.

Mark Bigelow (6-7, 195, Sr.) - Received third-team All-MWC honors in 2002-03 after being honorable mention all-conference in 2001-02 as a sophomore. He reached double digits in scoring 24 times last season and was BYU's second-leading scorer at 13.9 points per game. He was also third on the squad in rebounding (3.6), assists (2.3), steals (1.0) and blocks (0.4). Bigelow made a team-leading 63 three-pointers last season with multiple treys in 18 games. With 172 career treys he is BYU's career leader.

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