KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Bellarmine University men's basketball team is getting a lot of preseason attention from the pollsters, and latest rankings--just released today from the National Association of Basketball Coaches--have the Knights in the No. 10 position.
West Liberty, who lost in the national final a year ago, received half of the first place votes and got the nod as the top-ranked team to begin the year. The Hilltoppers, who made their first appearance in the title game last March, led the nation in scoring for the eighth time in nine years last season.
Southern Connecticut State continued its surge last season and took a 19-game winning streak to the Elite Eight before falling in the national quarterfinals. After UCM knocked off Southern Connecticut, it took down Metropolitan State in a thrilling semifinal contest.
Despite losing a talented senior class, Metro State is ranked third heading into the year, followed by a pair of regional finalists from 2013-14, East Stroudsburg at No. 4 and Montevallo at No. 5. Four of the top five teams in the pre-season poll received at least one first place vote.
Drury earned its second straight trip to the Elite Eight last season before losing to West Liberty in the quarterfinals and comes into the new season ranked sixth. Minnesota State was picked seventh in the pre-season, followed by Cal Poly Pomona - who also got one first place vote - Florida Southern and Bellarmine.
Western Washington missed the NCAA Tournament last year after two straight Elite Eight appearances that included the 2012 national title, but is expected by many to return among the top teams in the nation. The Vikings were picked 11th, followed by Tarleton State, Delta State, Philadelphia and Indiana (Pa.).
In the 16th spot in the pre-season poll is Findlay, who was bumped off in overtime by conference rival Lake Superior State in the Midwest Regional's opening round. The Oilers are followed by the third member of the Great Lakes Valley Conference in the rankings, Lewis, while UC-Colorado Springs checks is No. 18.
Chico State and South Carolina Aiken - who faced off in the national quarterfinals a year ago - are 19th and 20th, respectively. The final five teams in the pre-season poll are Saint Anselm, Seattle Pacific, Lincoln Memorial and Pacific West Conference rivals Cal Baptist and Dixie State.
The first regular season ranking will be released Nov. 25.
NABC/Division II Rankings (Nov. 6, 2014 - Pre-Season Rankings)