ST. LOUIS – The Eureka men's basketball team is officially the team to beat in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
For the first time ever, the Red Devils have been selected No. 1 in the SLIAC preseason poll by league coaches, the SLIAC announced on Tuesday afternoon. Eureka topped the field with 46 points and five of eight first-place votes.
Blackburn, which won SLIAC league and Tournament titles last season after Eureka's 2021 campaign ended early due to COVID-19 protocols, was second with 39 points and one first-place vote. Webster was a close third with 38 points and two first-place votes.
Greenville (29), Fontbonne (27) and Westminster (24) followed, while Spalding (10) and Principia (9) rounded out the poll.
The Red Devils return a slew of key players from the team that went 8-3 and only lost once in SLIAC play last year, including First Team All-SLIAC honoree Ian Milsteadt (East Peoria, Ill./East Peoria), Jalen Hosea (Peoria, Ill./Richwoods), J'Len Crawford (Bloomington, Ill./Bloomington), Charlie McKinty (Elmwood, Ill./Elmwood), Andrew Gonzalez (Mundelein, Ill./Mundelein) and Jordan Brooks (St. Joseph, Ill./St. Joseph-Ogden).
On Friday, Nov. 5, the Red Devils will tip-off their season against Cornell College at 7 p.m. It will be the first home Eureka basketball game with fans in 622 days. The Red Devils have won their last nine home games dating back to Jan. 28, 2020.
This season at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena and Convocation Center, there won't be any capacity limits, but all spectators must wear masks regardless of vaccination status, in accordance with state, conference and institutional policy. Social distancing is strongly encouraged.