LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Wyoming is picked to finish sixth in the Mountain West in the league's preseason poll. The Cowboys welcome back four starters and nine letterwinners from a squad that went 18-15 overall last season, including 9-9 in conference play for fifth place. It was UW's first .500 or better record in MW action since 2004-05 and its highest finish since 2002-03. The showing earned them a third-straight bid to the College Basketball Invitational, just the fifth time in program history the team has claimed three-straight postseason berths. The Pokes finished the season ranked 17th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 61.7 points per game, while ranking 26th with 16.8 fouls per game and 35th at 47.2 percent from the field.Head coach B.J. Hill enters his fifth year at the helm for Northern Colorado, after guiding the Bears to a fifth-place finish in last season's Big Sky Conference standings at 18-14 overall and 11-9 in league play. Northern Colorado played in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament, but lost in the first round. UNC returns three starters and seven letterwinners from that squad and has been picked to finish sixth in the conference's preseason poll. The Bears opened the 2014-15 campaign with a 95-56 exhibition win over Chadron State last Friday and begin regular-season play by hosting Black Hills State this Friday. Each Team's Leaders
The four returning Cowboy starters will be paced by senior forward Larry Nance Jr., who was named the MW Preseason Player of the Year on Oct. 14. Last season he led the Cowboys in points (15.4), rebounds (8.6), steals (1.4) and blocks (2.1), before suffering a torn ACL in mid-February. Senior guard Riley Grabau is Wyoming's outside threat, after leading the nation in three-point percentage at several points last year. He sits six threes shy of UW's all-time makes top 10. Junior Josh Adams blossomed on offense after Nance's injury with four-straight 20-point games and will continue to be one of the best Cowboy defenders. Senior Derek Cooke Jr. showed marked improvement in his second season in the program and looks to build on improved stamina this fall. Charles Hankerson Jr. is expected to fill the other starting spot, making four seniors in the starting lineup, after he was UW's first guard off the bench last year.The Bears' top returner is senior forward Tim Huskisson, who averaged 10.3 points and 3.6 rebounds last season, while shooting 44 percent beyond the arc. Senior guard Tevin Svihovec added 10.3 points as well, to go with 2.5 rebounds and a team-high 2.6 assists per contest. Sophomore guard Jordan Wilson is also a returning starter after contributing 7.4 points and 1.5 rebounds a season ago. Top newcomers include senior guard Dwight Smith, who transferred from Colorado State and Cameron Michael, who transferred from Air Force. About the Series
Wyoming leads the all-time series with Northern Colorado, 53-19, including a 32-7 mark in Laramie. The Pokes are 9-1 in their last 10 meetings with the Bears, including a 72-59 win on Dec. 22, 2013, in the Arena in the last matchup. Larry Nance Jr. posted 29 points and 13 rebounds and Wyoming used an 18-2 run late in the second half to down UNC. Up Next
The Cowboys continue their seven-game homestand to open the season by hosting Western State on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Arena-Auditorium.