WLU Men Unanimous Pick to Pull Off MEC ‘4-Peat’


BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. – The Mountain East Conference men’s basketball coaches installed No. 8-ranked West Liberty as a prohibitive favorite to pull off a “4-peat” in this year’s sprint to the MEC title.

    With all five starters back from last year’s nationally-ranked powerhouse, Coach Ben Howlett’s three-time defending MEC champions received 11 of 12 first-place votes and 121 points in the league-wide balloting released late Wednesday afternoon.

    Howlett brings a long list of accomplishments and a dazzling 81-13 record into his fourth year at the WLU helm. One of the biggest came in March at WesBanco Arena when his Hilltoppers became the first MEC team ever to sweep the league’s regular season and tournament championships in the same season. He says his players won’t back down from the challenge of being preseason favorites.

    “Our guys understand that dealing with high expectations is just part of the territory here at West Liberty,” Howlett said. “The MEC is a great basketball league with quality teams top to bottom. If you don’t bring your ‘A’ game every night, you’ll walk off that floor with a loss. We definitely appreciate the respect but right now we’re just thrilled to be able to play somebody in a different jersey.”

    Fairmont State, ranked No. 23 in the nation, earned the other first-place vote – coaches weren’t allowed to vote for their own teams – to hold down the No. 2 spot with 111 points. Charleston, which is among teams receiving Top 25 votes, was third with 99 points with a veteran West Virginia State squad close behind with 93. Wheeling (77) and Concord (65) rounded out the top half of the poll.

    Glenville State was No. 7 with 57 points, just ahead of No. 8 Notre Dame (52). Newcomer Alderson Broaddus (35) and West Virginia Wesleyan (32) round out the top 10 ahead of Davis & Elkins (29) and Frostburg State (21).

    The Hilltoppers open defense of their MEC title at home on Thursday night when they host Notre Dame (Ohio). Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at the ASRC. In accordance with MEC guidelines, no spectators will be permitted.


2020-21 MEC Preseason Poll

Team                                                                 Pts

  1. WEST LIBERTY (11)                               121

  2. Fairmont State (1)                                 111

  3. Charleston                                                  99

  4. W.Va. State                                                93

  5. Wheeling                                                    77

  6. Concord                                                      65

  7. Glenville State                                           57

  8. Notre Dame                                               52

  9. Alderson Broaddus                                   35

10. W.Va. Wesleyan                                        32

11. Davis & Elkins                                            29

12. Frostburg State                                         21

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