Expectations are high for the UNI men's and women's basketball teams. Both squads have been picked for a second-place finish in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) this season.

The MVC pre-season poll was released by the league earlier today (Tuesday, October 28, 2014). A panel of league sports information directors, media and coaches determined the poll.

In men's basketball, this year's team could be the most-talented UNI has had since the Panthers' NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen finisher in 2010. Head Coach Ben Jacobson returns five starters from a squad that finished 16-15 overall last season while placing third in the conference race with a 10-8 mark.

UNI senior forward Seth Tuttle is considered to be one of the best players in the league. He's been named to the All-MVC Preseason Team after averaging 15.4 points and 8.0 rebounds in 2013-14. Tuttle is the MVC's active leader in both career scoring and rebounding.

In the league race, the Panthers were picked to finish second behind Wichita State. The Shockers were chosen to win the MVC crown again following a record-setting 2013-14 season which saw them climb as high as No. 2 in the national polls and reel off 35-straight wins. It marks the third time in the past five seasons that Wichita State has been picked to win the league title (2011, 2014, 2015).

In women's basketball, UNI was also picked to finish the MVC race behind defending league champion Wichita State. Similar to the men's squad, the Panthers return all five of their starters after finishing their 2013-14 campaign with a 17-13 overall mark and 13-5 conference record. The l3 MVC wins were the second-most in school history.

UNI has been voted in the top-half of the standings in the women's MVC preseason poll seven out of the eight years that Head Coach Tanya Warren has been at the helm. This year's second-place ranking is the third time the Panthers have been picked to finish in that position.

One of UNI's returning starters was named to the all-MVC Preseason Team. Junior forward Jen Keitel was selected for the first time in her career after finishing first in the conference and 13th nationally in field goal percentage last season.

The UNI women open their season on Sunday, November 9th with an exhibition game against Sioux Falls at the McLeod Center in Cedar Falls. The UNI men begin their season with an exhibition game on Thursday (October 30th), when they host Upper Iowa at 7 p.m. The Peacocks are coached by former UNI and Wapsie Valley High School star Brooks McKowen.

2014-15 MVC Preseason Men's Basketball Poll
School (First-Place Votes) - Total Points

  1. Wichita State (45) - 459
  2. UNI - 411
  3. Missouri State - 338
  4. Evansville - 300
  5. Illinois State (1) - 287
  6. Indiana State - 219
  7. Southern Illinois - 191
  8. Bradley - 140
  9. Drake - 92
  10. Loyola - 91
2014-15 All-MVC Preseason Men's Team
  • Ron Baker, Jr., G, Wichita State
  • D.J. Balentine, Jr., G, Evansville
  • Tekele Cotton, Sr., G, Wichita State
  • Seth Tuttle, Sr., F, UNI
  • *Fred VanVleet, Jr., G, Wichita State

*Preseason Player of the Year

2014-15 MVC Preseason Women's Basketball Poll
School (First-Place Votes) - Total Points

  1. Wichita State (26) - 395
  2. UNI (2) - 348
  3. Drake (2) - 315
  4. Evansville - 252
  5. Indiana State - 234
  6. Missouri State - 190
  7. Loyola - 166
  8. Illinois State - 125
  9. Southern Illinois - 116
  10. Bradley - 60

2014-15 All-MVC Preseason Women's Team

  • Kyndal Clark, Sr., G, Drake
  • Sara Dickey, So., G, Evansville
  • *Alex Harden, Sr., G/F, Wichita State
  • Jen Keitel, Jr., F, UNI
  • Dyana Pierre, Jr., F/C, Southern Illinois
  • Lizzy Wendell, So., F, Drake

*Preseason Player of the Year