|Nebraska Wesleyan players hold the Division III men's basketball national championship trophy after the Prairie Wolves' win vs. UW-Oshkosh in Salem. And with almost everyone returning for NWU, they're the runaway preseason No. 1.
Photo by Dave Hilbert, d3photography.com
|#||School (1st votes)||Rec||Pts||Prev.|
|1||Nebraska Wesleyan (24)||30-3||624||1|
|Full preseason men's basketball Top 25|
Nebraska Wesleyan ran off a string of 18 wins in 19 games last year en route to winning the 2018 Division III men's basketball national championship.
The bad news for everyone else is that there's no reason the roll won't continue.
The Prairie Wolves bring back four starters, or 85 percent of last year's scoring. And in addition to Nate Schimonitz, Cooper Cook, Ryan Garver, Jack Hiller, Nebraska Wesleyan will be adding Clay Reimers, a transfer center from Concordia (Neb.) who averaged 15.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. He was second-team all-conference in the Great Plains Athletic Conference, the conference NWU participated in while it was jointly in the NAIA and NCAA Division III. They'll also get Cordell Gillingham, a transfer guard from Concordia, who was honorable mention all-conference.
UW-Oshkosh brings back four of last year's starters and seven players who averaged more than 15 minutes per game as the Titans, who finished third in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference last year, won five games away from home en route to the national title game. But the team lost Pat Juckem, who left to take the head coaching job at Washington University, and there is a huge gap between No. 1 at 624 points and No. 2 at 567.
Augustana, which lost to Oshkosh in the Elite 8, gets the only No. 1 vote that didn't go to NWU. Whitman, which lost to Nebraska Wesleyan in the Sweet 16, returns four starters and gets two key starters back from inury. Jase Harrison, a first-team all-Northwest Conference selection in 2017, and post player JoJo Wiggins are both healthy and will be back in the lineup as well.
Nebraska Wesleyan begins its title defense by hosting Grinnell on Nov. 8, in a game that is sure to test the scoring records early on in the season.
The women's basketball preseason poll will be released later this month.