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WLU men No. 2 in NCAA D-II preseason poll

INDIANAPOLIS – Coach Ben Howlett’s West Liberty University men’s basketball powerhouse has been ranked No. 2 in the annual NCAA Division II Preseason “Power 10” posted on the NCAA website.

While many conferences across the nation – including the Mountain East Conference – have delayed their season openers until the second semester due to COVID-19 concerns, several leagues will be tipping off as scheduled later this week.

Compiled for the NCAA by long-time NCAA Division II observer Wayne Cavadi, the “Power 10” is the result of numerous conversations with coaches and sports information directors over the past few months.

Not surprisingly, Northwest Missouri State holds down the No. 1 spot in Cavadi’s rankings. The Bearcats, who open on the road Saturday at Rogers State, won the 2019 national title and were ranked No. 1 in the nation last March when the NCAA cancelled all winter sports hours before the regional tournaments were set to start.

Cavadi put West Liberty at No. 2, citing the return of all five starters including a trio of 1,000-point scorers in Dalton Bolon, Will Yoakum and Pat Robinson III – all of whom averaged better than 18 points a game. Perennial powers West Texas A&M, Lincoln Memorial (Tenn.) and Florida Southern rounded out the Top 5.

Howlett and his Hilltoppers – who checked in at No. 4 in the Basketball Times’ Preseason NCAA Division II rankings earlier this month – have been working through preparations for the start of an abbreviated MEC-only schedule in January. The conference is expected to release the official schedule within the next few weeks.

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