LILBURN, Ga. – Carson-Newman matched a South Atlantic Conference record for highest ranking to begin a season Thursday afternoon as the Women's Basketball Coaches Association tabbed the Lady Eagles third in the preseason poll.
Tusculum opened up the 2010-11 season in the third slot picking up a pair of first-place votes. The Pioneers opened the season 2-3 but won the league's regular season by two games. It fell to 23rd each of the next two weeks and was not ranked again during the year.
Since joining the Division II ranks, this is the second time the program has been ranked in a preseason poll. In 2005-06, Carson-Newman started the year No. 19 and opened play 7-1 to be ranked for the first three weeks of the campaign.
Entering the season, Mincey's unit's string of 16 straight weeks ranked is tied for the ninth-longest mark in the country with Drury leading the charge at 77. Of that stretch, C-N has been in the top 10 for each of the last 15 with Ashland's mark of 47 the longest ongoing time.
The Lady Eagles peaked at No. 3 in the polls in 2017-18, doing so for three weeks, spending the final 14 weeks inside of the top 10 in America and nine as a top-five team in the WBCA poll. Prior to 2017-18, teams from the league had spent a total of seven weeks in the coaches poll ranked in the top five as Presbyterian was in it for five weeks in 1999-00.
With 47 weeks in the top 25, Carson-Newman has been in the polls more than any other team in the South Atlantic Conference other than Wingate's 58. Despite the difference, C-N has been in the top 10 for 21 weeks and in the top five for a dozen compared to five and zero for the Bulldogs.
On top of C-N on the table are the two clubs that played for a national title last year. Central Missouri, the champions, are No. 1 and Ashland sits in the two spot.
Two teams on the schedule this year are also in the top 25. North Georgia comes in at 14th and the Lady Eagles will play the Nighthawks in the fourth game of the year on Nov. 17.
Fellow SAC club Wingate slides into the 21st spot as the two clubs that squared off three times last year including for the regular season and conference tournament titles. The Bulldogs will host the Lady Eagles on Dec. 1 and visit Mossy Creek on Jan. 26 for 2 p.m. tips.
Mincey's crew hits the hardwood for the first time in 2018-19 in the first of two exhibitions this evening against North Carolina. The broadcast can be found on 106.3 (WPFT-FM) and cneagles.com/live on the Eagle Sports Network.
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