Michigan Tech, Findlay Deemed Favorites in GLIAC Men's Basketball Preseason Polls
by Brian Lester, GLIAC Contributor
The Michigan Tech Huskies and Findlay Oilers have been voted divisional favorites in the 2014-15 GLIAC Men's Basketball Preseason Poll. Michigan Tech senior guard Ben Stelzer has been named GLIAC Preseason Player of the Year.
Nothing is ever guaranteed in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, and last season proved as much. Lake Superior State was the top overall seed for the conference tournament but was knocked out in the first round by Malone.
Malone and Walsh, the league’s newest members and eligible for postseason play for the first time last year, both played in the final four of the tourney. They joined annual contenders Findlay and Michigan Tech.
The Oilers ended up winning the championship, defeating Michigan Tech to become the first team in league history to win three consecutive GLIAC tournament titles. It was their eighth overall, the most in conference history.
UF, MTU and LSSU all made the NCAA tournament, but it was MTU that survived the longest, reaching the Sweet 16 before falling to 2013 national champion Drury.
The league should fiercely competitive again this season.
In the South Division, Findlay will look to win its 13th division crown and defend its GLIAC tourney title one more time. It won’t be easy after losing GLIAC Player of the Year Greg Kahlig, but the Oilers always seem to find a way to get the job done, making the most of the talent they have.
Walsh shouldn’t miss a beat and be right in the mix for the league title again. Ashland has all five starters back and this could be the year the Eagles make a push for the title. Wayne State will have a new look and will take aim at a bounce-back season while Malone hopes to build on its successful season. Lake Erie, Ohio Dominican and Tiffin might not be division title contenders just yet, but those teams cannot be overlooked. All three should be improved and are capable of pulling off a stunning win on any given night.
The North Division will be competitive. Lake Superior returns three starters and know how to get the job done at home and on the road. Michigan Tech is always a contender under Kevin Luke, the veteran coach of the conference, while Grand Valley State has enough talent back to contend for a title. Ferris State had a difficult year, but returns several players with starting experience and should be one of the tougher teams in the league.
Hillsdale will play in the North this season and should be strong while Saginaw Valley, Northwood and Northern Michigan are teams that should take steps forward and be competitive night in and night out.
The GLIAC has a reputation for being one of the nation’s most competitive conferences, and odds are it will be again, making the battle for the division and tournament titles fun to watch.