UIW enter their final season of full transition to an NCAA Division I school this year and the Cardinals have continued to improve in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) reckoning. WAC have released their pre-season polls and UIW have been placed at ninth, in line with where they finished last season with a 4-6 record in conference play.
UIW received 34 points, placing them above UMKC and UT Rio Grande Valley, the two teams they finished above in the 2015 season. They are seven points behind Air Force and six more back on Houston Baptist, who the poll predicts for a large slide.
The overwhelming favorite is Seattle U, the defending champions who managed 99 points and nine first place votes. Only Utah Valley also managed first place votes, receiving two and getting a points total of 87 but that still seems unlikely to take out Seattle for the title.
Unsurprisingly no UIW players made the Pre-season All-WAV team, which was predominately Seattle U players. Seattle managed a sweep of the pre-season awards with David Olsen and Kyle Bjornethun managing offensive and defensive player honors for the Redhawks.
The standings will matter little to the Cardinals who are in the fourth year of transitioning to an NCAA Division I school. That means that this is the last season that UIW is ineligible for postseason play, making the 2016 season a crucial building year as they’ll hope to make the postseason in 2017, the first year they will be eligible to do so.