FREELAND, Mich. – If the 2017-18 Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association preseason coaches poll for men's basketball is any indication for the upcoming campaign, it will be a close race for first place.
Hope, last year's MIAA regular season champion and NCAA Sweet 16 team in 2017, received four first-place votes on the way to 45 points overall to capture the tag as preseason favorite in the eight-team MIAA race. Following close behind is Alma, as the Scots garnered two first-place votes and 40 points overall to edge third-place Calvin by one point; Calvin received the remaining two first-place votes. Coaches cannot vote for their own programs.
Olivet received 29 points in the poll to move into fourth place, ahead of a two-way tie for fifth by Trine and Albion (24 points). Kalamazoo (16 points) was predicted for seventh place, and Adrian rounded out the poll with seven points.
Hope (23-7 in 2016-17, 13-1 MIAA) aims to maintain the standard the team set in 2016-17, earning an automatic berth to the NCAA Division III Championship and advancing to the Sweet 16. The Flying Dutchmen return Dante Hawkins (Sr., G, Holland, Mich.), a defensive stalwart that earned first-team All-MIAA honors last season.
Alma (12-14, 8-6) targets a return to the NCAA postseason after falling in the MIAA semifinals last year. Doug Bradfield (Jr., F, Mason, Mich.) was a starter during the Scots' 2016 postseason run and is back on the court after missing the 2016-17 campaign due to injury. Also returning is Kevin Gamble (Jr., F/C, Mout Pleasant, Mich.), who also sat out last season because of injury after appearing in all 31 games for Alma in 2015-16.
Calvin (17-11, 10-4) earned the MIAA's automatic berth to the NCAA Championship with a thrilling 86-83 win at Hope in the MIAA Tournament Championship game. The Knights return three starters from last year, including Michael Wilks (Sr., F, Hudsonville, Mich.), who averaged 12.9 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.
Olivet (9-16, 5-9) features multiple new players for the 2017-18 campaign, but the Comets do return Aaron Washington (Sr., G, Fort Wayne, Ind.), who started 12 of 25 games last season.
The 2017-18 men's basketball season tips off Friday, Nov. 17 with seven MIAA teams in action, all on the road. MIAA league play begins Jan. 3; the 2018 MIAA Men's Basketball Tournament is set for Feb. 23-24 at the highest seed.