KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Two-time defending Atlantic Region champion West Liberty has been tabbed as the nation’s No. 1 team heading into the 2012-13 season in the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) annual preseason rankings.
|NABC COACHES’ POLL|
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Coach Jim Crutchfield’s Hilltoppers have won three consecutive West Virginia Conference titles and return the top eight scorers from a 32-3 team that led the nation in scoring for the sixth time in the last seven years. They received 12 of the 16 first-place votes.
West Liberty, which was ranked No. 3 in last year’s final poll, has now appeared in 39 consecutive NABC Coaches’ Top 25 Polls dating back to the 2009-10 season.
Washburn didn’t receive any first-place votes but the Ichabods – pre-season favorites in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association – had enough support to squeeze past Alabama-Huntsville for the No. 2 spot. The Blazers, who joined West Liberty in the last two Elite Eight tournaments and are preseason favorites to win the Gulf South Conference, received one first-place vote.
Bellarmine, the 2010-11 national champion, got two first-place votes to hold down the No. 4 spot, with Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference powerhouse Metro State at No. 5.
Defending national champion Western Washington came in at No. 6, with Winona State, Findlay, Seattle Pacific and Franklin Pierce rounding out the top 10.
West Liberty was the only WVIAC squad to crack the top 25.