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Panther men’s basketball tabbed fifth in MVC poll

ST. LOUIS – UNI men’s basketball has been selected to finish fifth in the Missouri Valley Conference’s (MVC) preseason poll, as announced by the league office on Wednesday morning. Bowen Born and Austin Phyfe also earned additional recognition, earning spots on the conference’s second and third All-MVC preseason teams respectively.

For the second consecutive year, Drake has been picked as the league’s preseason favorite, with guard Tucker DeVries being tabbed as the MVC’s Preseason Player of the Year.

The Panthers have finished in the top half of the league standings in 18 out of the last 19 years and enter the 2022-23 season as the reigning regular season conference champions.

Born begins his third season with the Panthers after averaging 7.4 points per game and earning the MVC’s Sixth Man of the Year Award and All-Bench Team honors. The third-year guard out of Norwalk, Iowa picks up his second preseason honor after being selected as the MVC’s Preseason Breakout Player and member of the MVC Second Team All-Conference by the Field of 68 Almanac.

Phyfe enters the new year after notching 5.4 points per game during UNI’s regular season championship season last year. The Waverly, Iowa native earned Preseason Second Team All-MVC recognition last season before recording a team-high 13 blocks and recording the highest career field goal percentage in program history (60.4%).

UNI roared from a 4-7 start last winter to victories in 16 of its final 21 games to clinch the program’s fourth MVC regular season crown and secure a bid in the NIT, where the Panthers earned a first-round victory over Saint Louis. The Panthers return 11 players from last year’s roster with the addition of four new freshmen.

The 2022-23 campaign will mark the longest league schedule in MVC history with 20 conference games on tap, thanks to the addition of UIC, Murray State and Belmont to the MVC over the summer. UNI is slated to play 9 MVC opponents twice, both at home and on the road, while facing 2 opponents once during the season.

The 2023 MVC Men’s Basketball Tournament, commonly known as Arch Madness, will be held March 2-5 at Enterprise Center in St. Louis, the 33rd consecutive year the league’s postseason tournament has been held in the Gateway City. With conference expansion, the top four seeds in the tournament will receive byes into the quarterfinal round, with seeds 5-12 playing first round matchups on Thursday, March 2.

UNI will have its first opportunity to compete on Nov. 2 as the Panthers face Dubuque in a preseason exhibition at the McLeod Center. The regular season commences on Nov. 7 with the Panthers taking on Wartburg at home at 7:30 p.m. CT.

Tickets for upcoming UNI home games are now on sale at UNIpanthers.com/tickets.

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