VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
ROCK HILL, S.C. – Carson-Newman's men's basketball team has been picked for a fifth-place finish by the coaches of the South Atlantic Conference. The league office released the annual preseason poll Wednesday afternoon.
Carson-Newman finished last year eighth in the South Atlantic Conference with an 8-12 league record and a 15-14 mark overall. The Eagles are riding eight consecutive winning seasons, the second-longest stretch in school history.
"I don't know if this preseason poll says anything either way," Carson-Newman head men's basketball coach Chuck Benson said. "They don't mean anything to me and we don't talk about them, nor do we talk to our players about them. We just focus on practice and trying to get better and learn what it's going to take to be the best version we can be. If we were first or last, it wouldn't mean anything different to me."
The Eagles only return five players from last year's roster who saw playing time. However, the Eagles infused six transfers into the roster over the summer to couple with three freshman and two players (Zailan Peeler and Caleb Bridgewater) who redshirted last year.
Carson-Newman had 75 votes in the preseason poll.
Queens was picked to repeat as SAC champions with 117 points and eight first-place votes. The Royals are ranked 17th in the NABC preseason coaches poll. They have won back-to-back Southeast Region titles.
Rival Lincoln Memorial sits in second with 109 points and three first-place votes. The Railsplitters missed out on the NCAA tournament last year for the first time in nine years. However, they are ranked top 10 in the country by Street & Smith, Division II Bulletin and the NABC.
Catawba and Wingate occupy the two spots directly in front of the Eagles. Catawba is third with 97 points. Wingate is fourth with 80 points.
Tusculum and Lenoir-Rhyne sit directly behind Carson-Newman, tied for sixth with 73 points. The Bears own the league's final first-place vote.
Anderson sits in eighth with 48 points, while Newberry, Mars Hill, UVa-Wise and Coker round out the lower third of the poll.
Carson-Newman opens the season Nov. 8 at Lees-McRae. Coverage will be available on the Eagle Sports Network 15 minutes prior to tipoff with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on The Mountain 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.