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SOU men ranked 18th in NAIA preseason poll

The Southern Oregon University men’s basketball team will open the season at No. 18 in the NAIA Division II Top 25, which was released Wednesday by the national office.

The preseason coaches’ poll also had fellow Cascade Conference members Oregon Tech at No. 2 and College of Idaho at No. 3. The teams met in the 2018-19 national semifinals, and OIT went on to fall in the championship game against Spring Arbor (Mich.), which has been voted the unanimous No. 1 to start the new season.

SOU will meet the No. 4 team in the poll, Morningside (Iowa), on Dec. 1 at the Midland Draemel Classic in Fremont, Nebraska.

The Raiders — who return 13 players from last season’s team that went 21-11 — open on Nov. 1 against Carroll (Mont.), which appeared in the NAIA Div. I championship game in March. Their non-conference schedule also includes Vanguard (Calif.), the No. 15 team in the NAIA Div. I preseason poll.

This season will be last with two NAIA divisions in basketball. Beginning in 2020-21, they’ll merge to compete for one championship.