Coming off three straight Conference titles and two post season runs in the NCAA tournament; Nebraska Wesleyan University is the coaches’ pick to win the 2019-20 American Rivers Conference Championship. The Prairie Wolves earned 63 points in the poll and seven first-place votes. Simpson College received two first-place votes and 55 points to finish second in the poll. The Storm will look to claim their first league title since 1998. Coming of an NCAA Sweet-Sixteen appearance, Loras College will look to make their case for a conference title in 2019-20. The Duhawks totaled 52 points in the poll to finish third. Capsules on all nine teams — follow here:
New Coaches: Trevor Johnson, Buena Vista University. Johnson’s coaching career got started when he was hired as an assistant men’s basketball coach at his alma mater of Nebraska Wesleyan University in 2014 where he stayed until departing for Johns Hopkins prior to last season. Johnson was a member of the Prairie Wolves basketball team from 2010-14 and was a four-year starter and letter winner. He received a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Nebraska Wesleyan in May of 2014 and later went on to earn his master’s degree in Management from Doane University in 2017.
The Schedule: Five of the league’s nine teams kick off the 2019-20 season Friday, November 8. Nebraska Wesleyan University faces Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) member St. John’s at the UW-Superior tournament and Central College travels to Cleveland, Ohio for a contest with Case Western Reserve University. CWRU is a member of the University Athletic Association (UAA). Simpson College tips of the season with a trip to Bethany Lutheran, out of the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC). Buena Vista University also hits the road for their opening contest. The Beavers will face MIAC member Gustavus Adolphus. Loras College hosts the lone home contests on opening night, facing Concordia-Chicago, out of the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC).
Three more team’s tip-off on Saturday, November 9. The University of Dubuque hosts American Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA) member Finlandia and Coe College opens on their home court with a contest against Midwest Conference member Grinnell. Wartburg, also on their home court for the first game of the year, faces another Midwest Conference member in Cornell.
The final team to hit the hardwood in 2019-20 is Luther College. The Norse host MIAC member Macalester on Sunday, November 10.
The 2019-20 American Rivers Conference schedule begins on Tuesday, November 26 with six of the nine schools competing. Coe College will travel to Storm Lake for a match-up with Buena Vista University, Loras College hosts Central College, and Simpson College hosts the University of Dubuque.
On Wednesday, December 4, the final three teams start their conference slate of games. Loras heads to Decorah for a matchup with Luther, Simpson travels to Coe, Central hosts Wartburg and Nebraska Wesleyan hosts Buena Vista.
The American Rivers Conference season is a 16-game double round robin schedule finishing on Saturday February 22. The league’s top six teams from the regular season standings qualify for the A-R-C Tournament. The Conference Tournament will be held Tuesday, February 25 (First Round), Thursday, February 27 (Semifinals), and Saturday February 29 (Championship). Game locations for the A-R-C Tournament are at the higher seeded team’s venue. The American Rivers Conference Tournament champion receives the leagues’ automatic qualifier to the NCAA Division III tournament.
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Results of the American Rivers Conference’s Men’s Basketball Preseason Poll (as voted on by the league’s head coaches):
|2019-20 American Rivers Conference Men’s Basketball Preseason Coaches’ Poll|
|Rank||School (First-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|
Looking primed for an NCAA-tournament appearance, Nebraska Wesleyan completed the American Rivers Conference double by adding the conference-tournament title to its regular-season crown. The Prairie Wolves were impressive in their 97-79 victory over Loras in a battle of the top-two seeds in the conference. The Duhawks were making their third trip to the conference title game in program history and first since 2008.
Loras received an at-large bid into the 64-team NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament field and first trip to the tournament since 2008. Loras picked up a 75-64 first-round win over Albion to advance to the round of 32, were they took down North Central in a thriller, 84-82. The win moved the Duhawks onto the Sweet-Sixteen for the first time in program history. Eventual national champions, UW-Oshkosh, brought Loras’ magical run to an end on March 8, defeating the Duhawks 86-75.
The defending national champions and top-ranked Prairie Wolves were selected to host first and second round games Friday, March 1 and Saturday, March 2, 2019. After a convincing 101-75 first-round win over Eureka College, NWU ran out of steam in the second half of their round of 32 match-up with St. Thomas. NWU’s cold shooting in the second half proved to be the difference in the contest between top-15 ranked teams, as the Tommies won 70-58.