The Ohio Wesleyan men's basketball team was tabbed to repeat as league champions in the 2015-16 North Coast Athletic Conference preseason basketball poll, based on balloting from league coaches.
Ohio Wesleyan, which earned its first NCAC title since 1988 last winter, earned eight of the possible 10 first-place votes from men's coaches to total 98 points at the top of the poll. Wooster, which leads the league with 16 titles all-time, secured the final two first-place votes and finished second in the poll with 92 points, while Wittenberg (72) and Wabash (70) rounded out the top-four. DePauw checked in at fifth with 57 points, followed by Denison in sixth (54), Oberlin in seventh (37), Allegheny in eighth (26), Kenyon in ninth (25) and Hiram in 10th (19).
The Battling Bishops, who competed in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth-straight year in 2015, return a full complement of players from last year's squad that finished the regular-season slate with a 16-2 mark against league foes. Four of the five starters from that squad will return this year, led by the reigning NCAC Player of the Year, senior Claude Gray (Avon, OH/Avon). Gray, who was also an NABC first-team All-America selection in 2014-15, led the NCAC in scoring with 544 points (19.4 ppg) after shooting 47 percent (187-of-400) from the field, 39 percent (79-of-204) from three-point range and 78 percent (91-of-117) at the free throw line. Sophomore Nate Axelrod (Dublin, OH/Coffman), the 2014-15 NCAC Newcomer of the Year as well as the D3hoops.com National Rookie of the Year, led the NCAC in assists with 166 (5.9 apg) and also finished third in the league in scoring with 453 points (16.2 ppg). Also returning to OWU's starting lineup this season will be senior post Matt Jeske (Glen Ellyn, IL/Glenbard South) and junior wing Ben Simpson (Lake Bluff, IL/Lake Forest). Head Coach Mike DeWitt returns to the bench this season with a record of 260-174 in 16 years at the helm of his alma mater and an overall career record of 310-249 in 21 years.
The 2015-16 season begins on Friday, November 13. The NCAC Tournament will be held at the end of February with the men’s and women’s semifinals and championships at the site of the respective high seeds on February 26th and 27th.
2015-16 North Coast Athletic Conference Preseason
|1.||Ohio Wesleyan (8)