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West Liberty, the defending regular-season and tournament champion in the Mountain East Conference, was selected as the team to beat in the league’s preseason poll of men’s coaches.

The Hilltoppers, No. 8 in the country in the latest National Association of Basketball Coaches Division II rankings, received 11 of the 12 first-place votes from MEC coaches, with the other going to Fairmont State, which wound up second in the league poll. The Falcons return four starters from last season and stand 23rd in the national poll.

The next two spots in the MEC poll were held down by Kanawha Valley schools, as the University of Charleston came in third and West Virginia State fourth.

Alderson Broaddus joins the league this season, replacing Urbana, which ceased operations last spring.

All 12 league teams begin play Thursday, with UC hosting Concord at 7:30 p.m. and Glenville State playing West Virginia State at 7:30. No spectators are permitted at MEC athletic events at the present time. Live coverage of games can be found at mountaineast.tv.

MEC 2021 men’s basketball preseason poll

Pos--School (1st place votes) Points

1. West Liberty (11) 121

2. Fairmont State (1) 111

3. University of Charleston 99

4. West Virginia State 93

5. Wheeling 77

6. Concord 65

7. Glenville State 57

8. Notre Dame 52

9. Alderson Broaddus 35

10. West Virginia Wesleyan 32

11. Davis & Elkins 29

12. Frostburg State 21