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WLU Still At No. 1

Toppers’ run is at historic level

January 15, 2014
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - West Liberty's unbeaten men's basketball team was an overwhelming pick at No. 1 in the national coaches' poll for the sixth consecutive week Tuesday afternoon when the National Association of Basketball Coaches released the results of its latest balloting.

Coach Jim Crutchfield's Hilltoppers (12-0) again received 14 of the 16 first-place votes to separate themselves from the pack with 397 points. Bellarmine, Ky. (12-0) remained No. 2 with 386 points and the two remaining first-place votes.

The poll includes only games played through Sunday so it doesn't reflect any of Monday night's results, including WLU's 107-88 romp past Glenville State at the ASRC.

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West Liberty's extended run in the coaches' poll and near the top of the charts has reached historic proportions.

This is the 26th time the Hilltoppers have been ranked No. 1 nationally, which is tied with Evansville (Ind.) for the third-highest total since NCAA Division II polling began during the 1960-61 season.

West Liberty's 33rd consecutive Top 5 ranking is also the third-most in Division II history and the longest streak in nearly a half-century. The Hilltoppers' current run of 59 consecutive Top 25 appearances is the longest active streak in the nation and ranks No. 7 on the all-time list.

While the top two spots in this week's poll remained unchanged, there was plenty of shuffling farther down the list as 10 members of last week's Top 25 poll lost at least once last week.

Defending national champion Drury, Mo. (12-1) lost at Bellarmine in a foul-marred game and dropped from No. 2 to No. 7. Florida Southern (15-0) takes over the No. 3 spot with Metro State, Colo. (12-1) at No. 4 and Indiana, Pa. (14-0) moving up to No. 5. Tarleton State, Texas (13-0), Drury, East Stroudsburg, Pa. (15-0), Cal State-San Bernardino (11-1) and Southern Indiana (11-1) round out the Top 10.

With West Liberty, IUP and East Stroudsburg, the Atlantic Region has three undefeated teams ranked in the national Top 10 for the third consecutive week. The Hilltoppers are the only Mountain East Conference team currently receiving Top 25 votes.

West Liberty returns to action Saturday when it plays host to Fairmont State in a 4 p.m. game at the ASRC.

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