VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
ROCK HILL, S.C. – Carson-Newman's men's basketball program has been picked fourth by the South Atlantic Conference's head men's basketball coaches in the league's annual preseason poll.
Carson-Newman is coming off a fifth place finish in the SAC a year ago and received 85 points in the poll. The Eagles were 16-13 last year and 12-10 in SAC play.
"We don't make a big deal about the preseason poll," head coach Chuck Benson said. "But honestly I'm a little surprised we're this high. I think it says something about the respect that Charles Clark and Sawyer Williams have garnered, and maybe historically how we've done. Now we have to see how this thing sorts out and see where we earn our place."
Lincoln Memorial has been picked to win the 2017 South Atlantic Conference Men's Basketball Championship as voted by the league's head coaches. The Railsplitters picked up 11 top votes and received 121 points from the panel.
Lincoln Memorial, the 2016 NCAA Division II Runner-Up, posted an overall record of 34-3 and a 22-0 record in South Atlantic Conference play last season. The Railsplitters became the first team in South Atlantic Conference history to finish the season at 22-0 in route to winning the 2016 South Atlantic Conference Regular Season and Tournament Championships. Lincoln Memorial comes into the 2016-17 campaign ranked No. 2 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
Wingate and Queens tied for No. 2 in the 2016-17 SAC Preseason Poll with 100 points.
The Bulldogs, who earned one top vote from the panel, advanced the second round of the 2016 NCAA Division II Basketball Championship after finishing the 2015-16 regular season at 23-10 overall and 16-6 in League play. The Bulldogs made a run in the 2016 South Atlantic Conference Basketball Tournament and finished as the tournament runner-up.
Queens turned in an overall record of 25-7 a season ago to go along with a 17-5 record in SAC play. The Royals knocked off Columbus State in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Division II Basketball Championship to earn a trip to the round of 32.
Carson-Newman holds a slim lead in the poll on Catawba, who followed as it received 82 points, landing in the No. 5 position. The Catawba Indians closed out their 2015-16 season at 12-17 overall and 10-12 in the SAC. They return a player of the year candidate in KJ Arrington, who missed last season with an ACL tear.
Newberry earned the No. 6 position with 74 points. The Wolves were 18-12 overall and 12-10 in the SAC a season ago. Lenoir-Rhyne came in at No. 7 with 61 points. The Bears advanced to the 2016 NCAA Division II Regional Finals after posting a 21-10 overall record as well as a 14-8 mark in the Conference. However, L-R loses three starters and is breaking in a new head coach.
Tusculum landed at No. 8 in the preseason poll as it collected 54 points from the panel. nderson came in at No. 9 with 50 points, followed by Coker with 31 points and Mars Hill who picked up 23 points. Brevard rounded out the poll as it notched 11 points.
Carson-Newman tips off its season Friday, Nov. 11 at 8:30 p.m. against Southern Wesleyan. Pregame coverage for the game on the Eagle Sports Network starts at 7:15 with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.
Men's Preseason Poll (First-Place Votes) Points
1. Lincoln Memorial (11) 121
2. Wingate (1) 100
4. Carson-Newman 85
5. Catawba 82
6. Newberry 74
7. Lenoir-Rhyne 61
8. Tusculum 54
9. Anderson 50
10. Coker 31
11. Mars Hill 23
12. Brevard 11