Basketball teams at Colorado Mesa are returning to practice this week in the hopes the season will begin as scheduled on Dec. 4.

If the season is a go, the women’s team will officially be the team to beat again, based on the RMAC coaches preseason rankings released Tuesday.

The men’s team, which won the RMAC tournament championship for the first time last season, is No. 4 in the preseason poll.

The CMU women, who won their second straight RMAC regular-season and tournament championships last season, received eight of 15 first-place votes and 189 total points in the voting.

They’re led by honorable mention All-America guard Dani Turner, who is on the list of preseason players to watch, along with forward Kelsey Siemons and guard Kylyn Rigsby, the MVP of last year’s conference tournament.

Western Colorado received three first-place votes in the women’s poll and is at No. 2 with 179 points, just ahead of Westminster, which got four first-place votes and 177 total points. Colorado Mines, which returns Denali Pinto, last season’s player of the year, is picked fourth.

On the men’s side, Colorado Mines, which returns all five starters and its top eight scorers from last season, received 13 of 15 first-place votes and earned 195 points to top the poll.

Black Hills State got the other two first-place votes to come in at No. 2, followed by CU-Colorado Springs and CMU.

Guard Georgie Dancer, center Ethan Richardson and forward Jared Small were CMU’s selections for players to watch.

Instead of selecting a preseason all-conference team and preseason player of the year, the conference last year opted to have teams submit up to three players to watch in the preseason.

A handful of games were scheduled to be played this weekend in the RMAC, but all have been rescheduled to later in the season because of rising COVID-19 numbers.

RMAC Commissioner Chris Graham said Tuesday that his office and athletic department officials at all colleges and universities in Colorado have a conference call Thursday afternoon with the Colorado Department of Public Health about the upcoming winter sports season.

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