Coach: Curtis Clark, sixth season
Last season: 18-6, 14-2 MAC (1st)
Impact players: D.J. Carton, 6-2, jr. (10.5 ppg., 4.9 rpg., 3.1 apg.)
Fresh faces: Devynn Wakefield, 6-4, sr.; Trevor Feller, 6-0, jr.; Phil Gist, 5-11, sr.; Lucas Hayes, 6-6, so.
Skinny: The Bulldogs graduated 10 seniors off last year's Class 4A state tournament team. Carton, a high major Division I recruit, is the only player back who logged significant minutes. Wakefield is a transfer from United Township. Even with an influx of new players and lack of experience, Clark has been encouraged by how receptive his team has been to coaching.
Coach: Chris Chavers, second season
Last season: 0-22, 0-16 (10th)
Impact players: Austin Brown, sr. (7.3 ppg.); Daxton Washington-Smothers, jr. (6.8 ppg., 5.5 rpg.); Cedric Peterson, sr. (3.4 ppg.)
Fresh faces: Michael Alexander, fr.; Brandon Hale, fr.
Skinny: Burlington hasn't won a regular season game in three seasons and has dropped 70 of its last 71 contests. The Grayhounds, in fact, lost every MAC game last year by at least 20 points. Led by two freshman guards, Alexander and Hale, Burlington did tally 67 points in a season-opening loss to Waterloo East.
Coach: Chris Powers, third season
Last season: 9-13, 7-9 (7th)
Impact players: LJ Henderson, 6-1, so. (3.5 ppg., 1.5 apg.); Brennen Lemke, 6-2, sr. (3.8 ppg., 2.0 rpg.); Louis Harris, 6-4, sr. (3.7 ppg., 2.6 rpg.)
Fresh faces: Bret Myli, 6-4, jr.; DeVonte McGee, 6-1, jr.; Ricky Clay, 6-5, sr.
Skinny: Clinton lost its top four scorers and rebounders to graduation, but Powers believes his team can surprise like last year's squad. Henderson is the starting point guard, and Lemke had 22 points in a 10-point season-opening setback to Cedar Rapids Jefferson. Myli and McGee were the leading two scorers on the sophomore team last year.
Coach: Matt Fitzpatrick, third season
Last season: 13-10, 8-8 (T5th)
Impact players: Trent Fitzpatrick, 5-10, sr. (12.4 ppg., 3.5 apg.); Dylan Peeters, 6-7, jr. (8.0 ppg., 6.0 rpg.); Ray Thrapp, 6-4, sr. (6.2 ppg., 3 rpg.)
Fresh faces: Anthony Valainis, 6-5, jr.; Sean Peeters, 6-4, so.
Skinny: The Knights return two three-year starters in Fitzpatrick and Thrapp along with two regulars off the bench in Dylan Peeters and Landon Dugan. Assumption has good size across board with four players at least 6-4. The defensive end has been a focal point in preseason. Assumption was third in the MAC in scoring but eighth in defense last season.
Coach: Craig Wurdinger, 14th season
Last season: 17-5, 13-3 (2nd)
Impact players: Nate Tyson, 6-0, sr. (10.8 ppg., 2.5 rpg., 28 made 3s)
Fresh faces: Diontrel Wommack, 6-1, jr.; Keshawn Pegues, 6-2, jr.; Momodu Kargbo, 5-10, jr.
Skinny: The Blue Devils graduated three double-digit scorers from last year's second-place MAC team, including all-stater Ray Miller. Wurdinger said there is the possibility Central could start five juniors. Tyson is the only player back who scored more than 10 total points on varsity. Inexperience aside, Wurdinger said team has a good basketball IQ and capable shooters.
Coach: Joe Ewen, fifth season
Last season: 7-15, 4-12 (8th)
Impact players: VJ Wilmington, 6-2, sr. (14.1 ppg., 24 made 3s); Max Taylor, 6-3, sr. (11.1 ppg., 3.8 rpg., 4 apg.); Keenan Hollingshed, 6-3, sr. (8.9 ppg., 3.4 rpg.)
Fresh faces: Corey Prather, 6-0, jr.; Peyton Henderson, 6-3, sr.
Skinny: North returns its entire starting five from last year's substate opener, which equates to almost 44 points and 15 rebounds per game. The Wildcats opened 4-2 last season, but lost 13 of their last 16. Ewen said finding ways to win close games is the next step. Rock Island transfer Lacey Watson will be eligible to join the team after Christmas break.
Coach: Mark Bigler, 13th season
Last season: 5-18, 3-13 (9th)
Impact players: Brett Erwin, 6-8, sr. (15.3 ppg., 8.9 rpg.); Trey Sampson, 6-7, sr. (13.1 ppg., 5.8 rpg.); Kenny Clay, 5-8, sr. (11.2 ppg., 7.7 apg.)
Fresh faces: Jamil Haymond, 6-1, jr.; Riley McIntyre, 6-4, sr.; Balene Mitchell, 6-0, sr.
Skinny: West has reason for optimism with all five starters returning, including a second team all-MAC post in Erwin. Bigler said the team had an outstanding off-season with victories over some of the top programs in Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois. For Falcons to make a leap in MAC, they'll need to improve on defensive end (last in MAC in points allowed).
Coach: Gary Belger, second season
Last season: 15-7, 11-5 (4th)
Impact players: Joe Wieskamp, 6-6, sr. (30.4 ppg., 10.2 rpg., 2.5 apg., 2.0 bpg., 62 made 3-pointers); Jackson Foulk, 6-0, sr. (4.6 ppg., 1.5 rpg.); Bryce Howard, 6-7, sr. (2.9 ppg., 2.4 rpg.)
Fresh faces: Cooper Zeck, 6-2, jr.; Josh Hutton, 5-11, sr.; Tyree Williams, 6-2, jr.
Skinny: Wieskamp, an Iowa signee, is on the verge of becoming the MAC's all-time leading scorer and has a strong possibility of exceeding 2,000 career points. The question is, what can Muscatine put around him? Garrett Mueller elected not to go out after making 46 3-pointers last year. The Muskies do have good size with three players at least 6-5.
Coach: Shamus Budde, 13th season
Last season: 16-7, 12-4 (3rd)
Impact players: Corvon Seales, sr., 6-2 (13.6 ppg., 4.2 rpg., 36 made 3s); Gary Morgan, 5-10, sr. (6.7 ppg., 39 made 3s); Reece Sommers, 6-3, jr. (3.7 ppg., 3.0 rpg.)
Fresh faces: Ty Anderson, 6-4, so.; Sam Kilburg, 5-10, so.; Nile McLaughlin, 6-1, jr.
Skinny: Led by Seales, a Minnesota State-Mankato signee, Budde's team returns three of its top six players from last year's substate final squad. They'll integrate with several newcomers. Anderson and Kilburg, both sophomores, are expected to make immediate impacts. Budde said it could be after Christmas break before his team discovers its identity.
Coach: Steve Hillman, 10th season
Last season: 11-12, 8-8 (T5th)
Impact players: Brian Dayman, 6-6, sr. (13.7 ppg., 8.8 rpg.); Carter Duwa, 6-0, jr. (9.1 ppg., 2 apg., 37 made 3s); Hunter Snyder, 6-3, jr. (9.3 ppg., 2 rpg., 31 made 3s)
Fresh faces: Cooper Edwards, 6-7, sr.; Caleb Caruis, 6-3, sr.; Cade Collier, 5-10, jr.
Skinny: The Spartans were in the middle of the MAC pack last year, but they're projected to win the league this year by the coaches. PV returns its top three scorers and features size with Dayman and Edwards. Hillman was excited about the team's development during the summer. Depth still is a question as PV played only seven in the first half of its season opener.
— Matt Coss