Photography by Peter Galarneau Jr.
BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. -- The West Liberty Men's and Women's Basketball teams have been tabbed as the favorites to win the Mountain East Conference title in a vote conducted by the league's coaches.
The Hilltopper Women are coming off their seventh 20-win season in the last eight years, narrowly edged out Glenville State for the top spot by a single point, 133-132. The Pioneers, under the direction of first-year coach Charles Marshall, garnered just as many first-place votes as WLU (five). Both West Liberty and Glenville State received votes in the initial NCAA Division II USA Today Preseason Top 25 coaches' poll.
Fairmont State was a close third in the vote finishing with 125 points. The Falcons advanced to the NCAA Tournament last year along with Glenville State. Charleston was picked to finish fourth (100 points), followed by Shepherd (88), West Virginia State (74), Concord (62) and West Virginia Wesleyan (61). Urbana was slotted in the ninth (48), Wheeling Jesuit was picked to finish 10th (45), Notre Dame College was picked to finish 11th (44) and UVa-Wise was predicted to finish in 12th (24).
TheWest Liberty Men, whom are ranked second in the Division II Bulletin men's basketball Preseason Top 25 and sixth by the Sporting News College Basketball Preview magazine, collected all but one first place vote and finished with 143 points. WLU has posted three consecutive seasons of 30-wins or more and advanced to the national semifinals last year.
Fairmont State, under the direction of second-year head coach Jerrod Calhoun, was picked to finish second with 132 points and collected one first-place vote. Wheeling Jesuit was picked to finish third in the Mountain East Conference with 114 points after finishing last year with a 19-10 record.
Concord and Shepherd tied in fourth with 90 points apiece, followed closely by Charleston with 89 points. West Virginia State was picked to finish seventh with 75 points, followed by Glenville State (65), West Virginia Wesleyan (53), Urbana (31), UVa-Wise (28) and Notre Dame College (26).
The polls were released at the first Mountain East Conference Media Day at the Bridgeport Conference Center.
The men's and women's basketball season begins on Friday, Nov. 8.