The Missouri State basketball Bears are the overwhelming favorite to win the Missouri Valley Conference this season.

The preseason poll of head coaches, media and p-r staff gives Dana Ford’s squad 29 out of a possible 44 first place votes.

The Missouri State Lady Bears are picked second in the Valley behind last year’s league champion Drake Bulldogs.

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ST. LOUIS – Missouri State is the overwhelming preseason favorite to win the Missouri Valley Conference, according to the league’s preseason men’s basketball poll of head coaches, media and communications personnel announced Thursday.

Coach Dana Ford’s Bears earned 29 of a possible 44 first-place votes and 410 points in the poll overall to earn the top spot. With five first-place votes and 368 points, Bradley was picked second, just ahead of Northern Iowa (343), Loyola (340) and Drake (243) to round out the top five spots. UNI’s vote total included three No. 1 votes, while Loyola snagged six top tallies.

“We are honored to be viewed in this light in the preseason poll,” said Ford. “However, the most important thing is where we finish the season. We have a lot of respect for the rest of the league, and we know whoever comes out on top at the end of the year will have earned it.”

Rounding out the poll were Indiana State (210) in the six spot, followed by Illinois State (193), Evansville (132), Valparaiso (98) and Southern Illinois (83). Illinois State earned one first-place vote.

In addition to being the top team pick, the Bears also earned the most Preseason All-MVC individual honors with four.

Topping the list is senior forward Tulio Da Silva who earned All-MVC Preseason first-team distinction. The 2019 MVC Newcomer of the Year and All-MVC first-teamer averaged a team-best 14.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game while converting 55.4 percent of his field goal attempts last season.

Classmate Keandre Cook earned All-MVC Preseason second-team honors Thursday. He averaged 12.8 points and 4.3 rebounds while dropping in 48 3-pointers as a junior while being named to the All-MVC third team.

Also earning preseason honors for MSU are newcomers Lamont West and Gaige Prim who were named to the All-MVC Preseason third team.

West led West Virginia in scoring last season (11.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 64-3-pointers) before coming to Springfield this fall as a graduate transfer. He has played in eight NCAA Tournament games with Bob Huggins’ Mountaineers and brings 109 career games, 945 points, 352 rebounds, 154 3-pointers from the Big 12 program.

Prim, a 6-foot-8 transfer from South Plains (Texas) College earned NJCAA First-Team All-American (Division I) last season after averaging 20.7 points, 11.5 rebounds and a .648 FG percentage. He finished second in the nation in total rebounds and 10th in the nation in scoring as a sophomore for a 28-6 that made the NJCAA national semifinals.

Loyola’s Cameron Krutwig was announced as the Valley’s Preseason Player of the Year.

Since joining the Missouri Valley in 1991-92, the Bears have been the conference’s preseason favorite just once previously, earning the top spot with 30 first-place votes in 2017-18.

Over the last 25 years, the MVC’s preseason favorite has gone on to play in the NCAA Tournament 16 times and the NIT five times. In that span, the team sitting atop the preseason poll has won the league regular-season title 13 times.

Report Courtesy of the Missouri State Athletics Communications