CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa–(NWU Athletics)– After winning three straight regular season conference titles, the Nebraska Wesleyan University men’s basketball team is once again the preseason favorite to win the 2019-20 American Rivers Conference championship.  NWU was picked first in the Coaches’ Preseason Poll that was released by the league office on Thursday (Oct. 17).

Nebraska Wesleyan received 63 total points and seven of the nine first place votes to sit on top of the poll as the front runner of the American Rivers Conference.  Simpson College received the other two first place votes and 55 points to finish second in the poll.  Loras College came in third with 52 points.

The Prairie Wolves have won the conference regular season championship all three seasons of competing in their new league.  Over the past two years, NWU has also claimed the conference tournament championship.

Head Coach Dale Wellman, who has been named the conference coach of the year three straight seasons, is back for his sixth season leading the NWU men’s basketball program.  Wellman welcomes back seven seniors and six of the top eight scorers from last season’s team that finished 27-2 overall.

NWU returns three starters, all of whom earned All-Conference recognition.  The Prairie Wolves also bring back four players that averaged in double figures one year ago when NWU advanced to the second round of the NCAA III Tournament.

Senior guard Nate Schimonitz is a three-time 1st-Team All-Conference selection and a preseason All-American.  Guard Jack Hiller has earned honorable mention All-Conference each of the past two seasons and center Clay Reimers was honorable mention All-Conference last year in his first season with the Prairie Wolves.

Nebraska Wesleyan begins preseason practice on Oct. 20.  The Prairie Wolves will open the season right away with an exhibition game at NCAA Division I College of Charleston on Oct. 29.  The regular season begins on Nov. 9 when the Prairie Wolves travel to Superior, Wisconsin to take part in the UW-Superior Tournament.  NWU takes on nationally-ranked Saint John’s University in the opening game of the season.

2019-20 American Rivers Conference Men’s Basketball Preseason Coaches’ Poll
Rank  School (1st place votes) Points 2018-19 Record 
1.   Nebraska Wesleyan (7) 63 27-2, 15-1 A-R-C (Reg. Season & Conf. Tour. Champion/NCAA Round of 32)
2.   Simpson (2) 55 16-10, 9-7 A-R-C
3.   Loras 52 23-7, 12-4 A-R-C (NCAA Sweet-Sixteen)
4.   Wartburg 37 17-9, 11-5 A-R-C
5.   Dubuque 36 14-13, 6-10 A-R-C
6.   Coe 33 14-12, 8-8 A-R-C
7.   Central 22 8-17, 5-11 A-R-C
8.   Buena Vista 14 11-14, 5-11 A-R-C
9.   Luther 12 7-17, 1-15 A-R-C