The Bellarmine Knights will the start the season as the No. 1 team in Division II men’s basketball. The National Association of Basketball Coaches released its 2018-19 Division II preseason poll on Tuesday afternoon, and it shows the Knights in the top spot after garnering 14 of the 16 first place votes.
This is the second No. 1 ranking of the preseason for Bellarmine, which also was listed in the top spot in the Division II Bulletin’s preseason rankings. The Knights return eight of their top 10 scorers from last year’s team that went 29-3 and captured regular season and tournament titles in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. In fact, six players on the 2018-19 roster started at least three games last season.
The NABC rankings, which are considered the official rankings for men’s Division II basketball, list a quintet of teams that have been a part of recent Elite Eights atop the preseason coaches poll for the 2018-19 season.
Bellarmine has made three Elite Eight appearances since winning the NCAA Division II title in 2011 while preseason No. 2 West Liberty has reached five Elite Eights in a six-year span beginning in 2011. Lincoln Memorial, ranked No. 3, 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 preseason 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.
Among the teams receiving votes but not making the top 25 are future Bellarmine future opponents Barry and Drury. The Knights will host both teams on the Knights Hall hardwood, where Bellarmine has won 57 straight games to established the longest home court win streak in men’s college basketball.
|NABC/Division II Rankings|
(Oct. 30, 2018 – Pre-Season Poll)
|1.||Bellarmine, Ky. (14)||29-3||398||4|
|2.||West Liberty, W.Va. (1)||26-4||364||12|
|3.||Lincoln Memorial, Tenn.||32-2||347||1|
|4.||West Texas A&M||32-4||332||11|
|5.||Northwest Missouri State (1)||27-4||277||5|
|6.||Saint Anselm. N.H.||22-9||272||NR|
|9.||Cal Poly Pomona||23-7||225||25|
|10.||Southern Nazarene, Okla.||27-3||207||8|
|11.||Valdosta State, Ga.||26-5||196||15|
|13.||Ferris State, Mich.||38-1||183||2|
|15.||East Stroudsburg, Pa.||27-6||162||NR|
|18.||St. Cloud State. Minn.||24-9||113||NR|
|20.||Southwest Minnesota State||25-9||93||NR|
|21.||Dallas Baptist, Texas||26-6||92||16|
|24.||UC San Diego||21-11||63||NR|
|Others receiving votes: Clayton State (Ga.) 40, Fairmont State (W.Va.) 38, UNC Pembroke 35, Point Loma (Calif.) 34, Saint Martin’s (Wash.) 32, Northern State (S.D.) 27, Nova Southeastern (Fla.) 19, Barry (Fla.) 18, Minnesota State 18, Texas A&M-Commerce 17, Drury (Mo.) 13, Shaw (N.C.) 13, Azusa Pacific (Calif.) 12, Dominican (N.Y.) 12, Ashland (Ohio) 11, Lees-McRae (N.C.) 13, Tarleton State (Texas) 10, Claflin (S.C.) 9, Daemen (N.Y.) 8, Fort Lewis (Colo.) 4, Merrimack (Mass.) 4, Chico State (Calif.) 3, King (Tenn.) 3, Clark Atlanta (Ga.) 2, Stanislaus State (Calif.) 2, Colorado School of Mines 1, Dixie State (Utah) 1.|
Records are final from 2017-18 season. Last ranking was from the final 2017-18 poll.