(KANSAS CITY, Mo.)—The Northwest Missouri State men's basketball is ranked No. 5 in the NABC/Division II preseason coaches top 25 poll.
The Bearcats picked up a first-place vote and will open the 2018-19 season this Saturday and Sunday in St. Joseph, Missouri, at the Small College Basketball Hall of Fame Classic. Northwest will match up against Northern State on Saturday at 7:45 p.m., followed by a Sunday tilt against No. 13 Ferris State on Sunday at 5:45 p.m. Both games will played at the Civic Arena.
Bellarmine, who has made three Elite Eight appearances since winning the NCAA Division II title in 2011, picked up the bulk of the first place votes and heads the pre-season rankings. The Knights are followed by West Liberty, who reached five Elite Eights in a six-year span beginning in 2011 and Lincoln Memorial, who played in the 2016 national championship game in the first of back-to-back appearances.
The next two teams in the poll are West Texas A&M, who was a national semifinalist a year ago and Northwest Missouri State, won the 2017 national title.
After Northwest is Saint Anselm, followed by Queens (N.C.), who also reached last year's national semifinal round and Indiana (Pa.), who played in the national title game in 2015. Cal Poly Pomona, who was the first national champion of the 2010s, is ranked ninth in the pre-season.
Southern Nazarene rounds out the top 10 following its best season as a member of NCAA Division II and the same can be said for West Florida, a 28-win team a year ago that was ranked one spot in back of fellow Gulf South Conference foe Valdosta State.
Defending national champion Ferris State appears in the poll at No. 13, while Western Washington is ranked 14th and another 2018 Elite Eight entry, East Stroudsburg, was picked 15th.
The pre-season top 20 is completed by Virginia State, Morehouse, St. Cloud State, Regis and Southwest Minnesota State; three of those teams either won a regular season or conference tournament title last year.
The final five teams in the poll are Dallas Baptist, Florida Southern, Findlay, UC San Diego and Missouri Southern.
Two pre-season events kick off the 2017-18 season this weekend, beginning with the D2CCA Tip-Off Classic in Anaheim, Calif., which starts Friday. The field includes No. 4 West Texas A&M and two others that received votes, Azusa Pacific and Drury.
The other event takes place in St. Joseph, Mo., with the Hall of Fame Classic, which includes the two teams that faced off in the national title game, Ferris State and Northern State, in a field that also has Queens (N.C) and Northwest Missouri State.