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Saturday, October 29, 2005

WVU ranked 15th in hoops preseason poll

MORGANTOWN — For just the second time in polling history, a West Virginia University men’s basketball team has been accorded preseason ranking.

The Mountaineers occupy the No. 15 spot in the USA Today/ESPN coaches’ poll which was released Friday.

West Virginia was ranked No. 5 in the 1962-63 preseason listing by The Associated Press. The AP’s preseason poll for 2005-06 has yet to come out.

The current ranking obviously is a carryover from last year’s miracle-like march to the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight and the fact four starters are returning. The Mountaineers posted a 24-11 record and finished the year ranked 12th in the USA Today/ESPN poll.

Coach John Beilein had this to say of the preseason rating Friday:

“I don’t put much stock into the rankings when we aren’t ranked, let alone when we are ranked, and we’ve had a lot more weeks when we haven’t been ranked.

“It’s nice to know that we have the respect of many people that give us a high opinion of our program right now.”

WVU is one of five Big East teams in the coaches’ preseason Top 25. Connecticut is second, Villanova fourth, Louisville eighth and Syracuse16th.

Non-conference opponents on the Mountaineers’ schedule that are ranked include No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 18 UCLA.

If WVU advances in the Guardians Classic, potential foes could include No. 3 Texas, No. 10 Kentucky and No. 20 Iowa. LSU and Georgetown also received votes in the poll.

Season tickets for the 2005-06 season may be purchased at the Coliseum ticket office by telephoning 1-800-WVU GAME.

The Mountaineers open the season at home on Saturday, Nov. 12, against Louisiana Monroe in the Guardians Classic. They will play either Fairleigh Dickinson or Wofford on Sunday, Nov. 13.

An exhibition game with Wheeling Jesuit is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 7.

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