Last year's finalists return atop Top 25

The defending national champions lost two of their best players, including Ben Boots, but picked up nearly one-third of the No. 1 votes. photos
# School (1st votes) Rec Pts Prev.
1 Swarthmore (16) 29-4 614 2
2 UW-Oshkosh (8) 29-3 563 1
3 North Central (1) 23-6 510 17
4 Amherst  25-5 469 14
5 Wittenberg 24-6 455 21
Full preseason men's basketball Top 25

Swarthmore stood at 4-2 last Dec. 1, having lost back-to-back two-point games, but the Garnet hardly looked back and went on a run all the way to the national title game before losing to UW-Oshkosh.

Each of the Final Four teams lost someone big, and that includes Swarthmore, which lost Cam Wiley, but the Garnet return four starters, including 81 percent of their scoring from last season, and secured the No. 1 spot in the preseason men's basketball Top 25.

Swarthmore leads by a substantial margin: 51 points. In second is the defending national champion, UW-Oshkosh, which will try to pick up where it left off, even as it leads off the season without first team All-America selection Ben Boots or Brett Witchow. That cuts quite a bit into their scoring and ball-handling experience, but the Titans, which finished 29-3 last season, got a big boost down the stretch from big man Jack Flynn, who leads the returners.

Vaulting into the top three and picking up the remaining first-place vote is North Central (Ill.). The Cardinals got bounced in the second round last season, but played the majority of the season without Aiden Chang, who suffered a foot injury and only played nine games. His return means the Cardinals are bringing back five starters, including certain preseason All-America selection Connor Raridon, from a team which went 23-6 in 2018-19.

The biggest loss for Amherst actually comes from the bench, where longtime coach Dave Hixon will be taking a sabbatical this season. Former Player of the Year, Aaron Toomey, will be the interim head coach for a Mammonths team which advanced to the round of 16 and returns four starters. Wittenberg also brings back four starters from a Sweet 16 team and ends up No. 5 in the preseason poll.

If UW-Oshkosh belongs in the top spot, it will be clear early on. The Titans open the season at preseason No. 17 Augustana on Nov. 9, then travel to No. 3 North Central three days later. Swarthmore, on the other hand, does not have a single game on the schedule against anyone in the preseason poll, and just one game against a team which is receiving votes (Rochester, five votes, Jan. 2). Swat's non-conference games are against Eastern (15-11), Neumann (13-13), TCNJ (13-13), Stockton (10-15), Arcadia (23-6), Rochester (21-6) and Stevens (16-10).

The women's basketball preseason poll will be released later this month.