MOUNT PLEASANT – The Iowa Wesleyan College women’s basketball team will begin the 2010-11 season with the highest national ranking in school history, opening at 12th in the initial NAIA Division II Top 25 Coaches’ Poll which was released Monday by the NAIA.
Coming off a school record season that included an appearance in the Elite 8 of the NAIA Division II National Tournament, the Tigers picked up 263 votes in the preseason poll of NAIA coaches representing each of the conferences. The ranking is IWC’s highest ever, one spot higher than it finished in last year’s final poll at the end of the regular season.
Wesleyan finished 27-8 last year, setting a school record for wins, and advanced to the national quarterfinals before bowing to eventual national champion Northwestern (Iowa) College. The Red Raiders are the top-ranked team in this year’s initial poll, with 405 points and 14 of 15 first-place votes. Davenport (Mich.) University is ranked second and received the other first-place votes.
The Tigers are one of three Midwest Collegiate Conference teams in the opening poll of the year, and are not the highest ranked team. Grand View University is ranked tied for eighth in the preseason poll with 303 points, while St. Ambrose University is the final team in the poll at 25th.
Grand View also was named the MCC favorites as the conference’s preseason poll of league coaches was released Monday. The Vikings, who also advanced to the Elite 8 at the national tourney last year, received 78 points and six first-place votes. The Tigers are picked second and finished with 67 points and three first-place votes, just ahead of St. Ambrose with 66 points.
IWC finished 15-1 in the MCC last year, winning both the regular season and tournament titles. The Tigers defeated Grand View in all three meetings between the teams and return four starters from last year’s team. The previous highest ranking for an Iowa Wesleyan team to start a season came in 2007-08 when the Tigers were ranked 18th in the nation in the preseason coaches’ poll.
The Tigers will face a minimum of six teams ranked in preseason polls, including home-and-home conference games against Grand View and St. Ambrose as well as games Nov. 5 against #21 Hastings (Neb.) College and Nov. 6 at Morningside College, ranked fifth in the NAIA D-II poll. IWC also will compete at the Cornerstone (Mich.) University Tournament Dec. 17-18 and could face the host school, which is ranked 17th in the NAIA poll.