1. Martin Luther:
Last season: 13-3, RPI 12, NT Round 2
Top returner: G Freddie Glasper (16.7 PPG, 43% 3PT, CCIW POY)
X-Factor: SG Chad Brown
Verdict: Veteran supporting cast surrounds a star in Glasper. A legitimate championship contender.
2. North Park:
Last season: 12-4, RPI 21, NT Round 1
Top returner: SG William Green (12.2 PPG, 43% 3PT, 3rd team all-CCIW)
X-Factor: C David Johnston
Verdict: Deep and talented - possibly bpolesel’s best team yet. Final Four darkhorse.
Last season: 12-4, RPI 35, NT Round 1
Top returner: SF Aaron Brown (10.9 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1st team all-CCIW)
X-Factor: SG Bradford Nagel
Verdict: Easy NT qualifier, and good enough to win a game or two once they get there.
Last season: 11-5, RPI 39, NT Round 2
Top returner: C Ronald Brennan (9.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 53% FG)
X-Factor: SG Joshua Roberson
Verdict: Not a vintage shaf squad, but enough defense and rebounding to lock up an NT berth.
5. Milwaukee Engineering:
Last season: 7-9, RPI 88, PIT Round 2
Top returner: C Tommy Peoples (12.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 52% FG)
X-Factor: SG Ernie Zuehlke
Verdict: Great down low but inexperienced in the backcourt. Another bubble team for branchel, but this time he sneaks in.
6. North Central
Last season: 4-12, RPI 148
Top returner: SG Robert Richard (15.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg)
X-Factor: C Timothy Hanford
Verdict: Underacheived a year ago. Still a bit weak down low, but talented enough to make the postseason.
7. Illinois Wesleyan
Last season: 5-11, RPI 169
Top returner: PG Adrian Hamm (19.9 ppg, 46% 3PT, 3rd team all-CCIW)
X-Factor: C Herbert Lin
Verdict: Hamm is phenomenal, but how much help will he get? Can’t see him carrying IWU any farther than the PIT.
Last season: 8-8, RPI 83, PIT Round 1
Top returner: SG Emery Riddle (5.3 ppg)
X-Factor: SG Henry Rossmiller
Verdict: Some nice talent at the top (assuming Riddle is out of coach Gann’s doghouse), but not enough talent throughout the roster for a postseason return.
Last season: 7-9, RPI 134
Top returner: PG Bryan Reese (9.1 ppg, 2.2 apg)
X-Factor: C Jared Trigg
Verdict: Henderson and Reese keep them competitive, but not enough depth or rebounding to challenge the big boys.
Last season: 10-6, RPI 73, PIT Runner Up
Top returner: SG Keith Lampert (12.7 ppg, 46% 3PT)
X-Factor: C Melvin Rogers
Verdict: Lots of potential in this bunch, but a roster with the same amount of walk-ons as upperclassmen isn’t poised for immediate success.
Last season: 2-14, RPI 235
Top returner: C James Malloy (8.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg)
X-Factor: SG Curtis Rutz
Verdict: No postseason hope for this bunch, but there's enough here to pull an upset or two over the mid-table teams.
12. Wisconsin Lutheran
Last season: 5-11, RPI 181
Top returner: SG Dennis Greenwood (27.6 ppg, 1st team all-CCIW)
X-Factor: C Marvin Simmons
Verdict: Very solid starting backcourt, but not much else.