BRIDGEPORT – After advancing to the NCAA Division II National Title game a season ago, West Liberty has been voted preseason favorite to win the 2023-24 Mountain East Conference Men’s Basketball Championship, following a vote of the league’s 11 head coaches.
The preseason poll was announced on Wednesday afternoon prior to the league’s annual media day at Bridgeport Conference Center.
West Liberty received eight first-place votes and 98 points during preseason balloting. Under head coach Ben Howlett, the Hilltoppers went 33-4 a season ago, winning the MEC Regular Season and Tournament Championships. West Liberty also won the NCAA Atlantic Regional at IUP and advanced to the national title game in Evansville, Indiana, eventually falling to Nova Southeastern in the championship game.
In 2023-24, the Hilltoppers return senior guard Christian Montague, junior forward Ben Sarson and junior guard Zach Rasile. West Liberty also added impact transfers John Korte (Wheeling) and Darren Fergus (Malloy). Fergus was the East Coast Conference Player of the Year last winter.
Charleston received the final three first-place votes and were picked preseason runner-up with 90 points during balloting. The Golden Eagles also return an experienced roster this winter with Eddie Colbert, Tyler Eberhart and CJ Meredith back in the lineup. UC also welcomes a trio of transfer guards this season in Freddie Word, DeAirius Barker and Dwaine Jones.
Fairmont State was voted third in the preseason poll with 85 points. The Falcons will be led by senior guard Zyon Dobbs and senior forward Seth Younkin this season. West Virginia State was fourth in the preseason voting with 66 points, and will be led by redshirt-senior forward Anthony Pittman in 2023-24.
Following a historic campaign in 2022-23, Davis & Elkins was picked fifth (65 points) this season. The Senators will be led by first team All-MEC guard Sam Rolle IV.
Concord was voted sixth (52), followed by Notre Dame (50), Glenville State (41), Wheeling (27), Frostburg State (21) and West Virginia Wesleyan (10).
|Mountain East Conference|
Men’s Basketball Preseason Poll
|1.||West Liberty (8)||98|
|4.||West Virginia State||66|
|5.||Davis & Elkins||65|
|11.||West Virginia Wesleyan||10|
|( ) denotes first-place votes|