West Liberty No. 1 in NCAA Coaches’ Top 25

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After coming up just a few minutes shy of its first national title last season, the West Liberty University men’s basketball team will start this season at the top of the national charts.

Coach Jim Crutchfield’s Hilltoppers, who dropped a heartbreaking 84-77 decision to Central Missouri in last year’s NCAA Division II national championship game, were the clear choice at No. 1 when the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) released its annual Preseason Top 25 poll on Thursday afternoon.
West Liberty, coming off four consecutive 30-win seasons and Elite Eight tournament trips, received 8 of the 16 first-place votes and 385 points. That put the Black and Gold well ahead of Southern Connecticut State, which held down the No. 2 spot with 364 points despite not receiving a single first-place vote. Metro State (Colo.) was close behind at No. 3 with 4 first-place votes and 361 points.
East Stroudsburg, Pa., which lost to the Hilltoppers in the Atlantic Region championship game, was fourth with one first-place vote and 344 points while Montevallo (Ala.) checked in at No. 5 with 2 first-place votes and 325 points. Drury (Mo.), Minnesota State, Cal Poly-Pomona, Florida Southern and Bellarmine, Ky. rounded out the top 10.
West Liberty was the only Mountain East Conference team receiving votes in the preseason poll.
This is the third preseason No. 1 ranking WLU has received this year. The Hilltoppers also occupied the top spot in The Sporting News College Basketball Preview magazine and the Division II Bulletin.
West Liberty has now been ranked No. 1 in the NABC Top 25 at some point in each of the past five years. Its current run of five consecutive conference championships and four straight regional titles has made the Hilltoppers a familiar presence in the poll.
The Black and Gold have appeared in every Top 25 poll since Feb. 2, 2010 and have been in the Top 10 of every poll released since Dec. 13, 2011. Those two streaks – 66 consecutive weeks in the Top 25 and 44 consecutive weeks in the Top 10 – each rank as the longest active streaks in the nation. They’re also the fourth-longest streaks since the first poll was taken during the 1960-61 season.
West Liberty will put its latest No. 1 national ranking on the line for the first time Nov. 15 when the Hilltoppers host St. Augustine’s (N.C.) in a 5:30 p.m. game at the ASRC.
MEN’S BASKETBALL
AFCA NCAA Division II 
Preseason Top 25 Poll
(November 6, 2014)
Team (FPV) Rec Pts Pvs
  1. WEST LIBERTY (8) 31-4 385 7
  2. Southern Connecticut State 30-3 364 4
  3. Metro State, Colo. (4) 32-2 361 1
  4. East Stroudsburg, Pa. (1) 30-2 344 2
  5. Montevallo, Ala. (2) 26-6 325 18
  6. Drury, Mo. 28-4 296 8
  7. Minnesota State-Mankato 30-5 277 9
  8. Cal Poly-Pomona (1) 22-7 264 24
  9. Florida Southern 26-4 242 10
10. Bellarmine, Ky. 23-8 218 NR
11. Western Washington 20-8 192 NR
12. Tarleton State, Texas 28-3 188 3
13. Delta State, Miss. 26-7 182 NR
14. Philadelphia, Pa. 25-7 180 NR
15. Indiana, Pa. 24-5 170 15
16. Findlay, Ohio 24-5 147 21
17. Lewis, Ill. 21-6 142 NR
18. Colo.-Colorado Springs 21-9 105 NR
19. Chico State, Calif. 25-8 89 19
20. South Carolina-Aiken 33-4 84 5
21. Saint Anselm, N.H. 22-8 76 NR
22. Seattle Pacific, Wash. 26-6 60 11
23. Lincoln Memorial, Tenn. 28-3 59 6
24. Cal Baptist 24-4 43 17
25. Dixie State, Utah 21-7 41 NR
Others receiving votes: Kentucky Wesleyan 39, Central Missouri 34, GRU-Augusta 34, Limestone (S.C.) 25, Barry (Fla.) 23, Fort Hays State (Kan.) 21, St. Mary’s (Texas) 21, Christian Brothers (Tenn.) 20, Arkansas-Fort Smith 18, Alaska-Anchorage 17, Midwestern State (Texas) 15, Arkansas Tech 14, Michigan Tech 14, Augustana (S.D.) 11, Grand Valley State (Mich.) 9, Washburn (Kan.) 9, Angelo State (Texas) 7, Harding (Ark.) 6, Newberry (S.C.) 6, Alabama-Huntsville 5, Benedict (S.C.) 3, Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.) 3, Cal State-Stanislaus 2, Texas A&M-Commerce 2, Cal State-San Bernardino 1, Indianapolis (Ind.) 1, Minnesota State-Moorhead 1,

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