The UC Irvine men's water polo team was picked to finish sixth in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
Coach Marc Hunt's Anteaters, who finished 17-12 last season, when they were 2-6 in the MPSF, lost in the MPSF quarterfinals and finished 2011 ranked No. 6 nationally.
This season, defending NCAA champion USC tops the MPSF poll with 63 points and seven of nine first-place votes.
UCLA is No. 2 with 56 points and two first-place votes, followed by UC Berkeley (48 points), Stanford (47), UC Santa Barbara (31) and UCI (25).
Pepperdine (23 points), Long Beach State (16) and Pacific (15) round out the poll.
The Anteaters, who open their season Sept. 1 against Chapman in the UCI Tournament, figure to be led by junior Mitch Wise. Wise, a third-team All-American in 2011, shared the MPSF lead with 70 goals and was named second-team all-conference.
The 'Eaters also welcome back senior Nick Pfeil (42 goals in 2011), sophomore Jacob Mourer (26 goals in 2011) and sophomore Alan Robertson (21 goals in 2011).
— From staff reports