The No. 18/18 Merrimack College men’s basketball program narrowly missed out on a first-place selection in Thursday’s Northeast-10 Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll when the league office unveiled the annual voting conducted by the NE10’s 15 head coaches.
The Warriors were picked to finish second in the Northeast Division, one point behind Saint Anselm, the reigning conference champions. Merrimack earned 93 total points and a division-high seven first-place nods, the most for the program since Merrimack was last picked to win the league ahead of the 2009-10 campaign. The Hawks received five first-place tallies and 94 points overall to edge out the Navy and Gold. The second-place selection marks the the second time in the last three years that the Warriors were picked as the runner-up in the division.
Southern Hampshire collected the final two first-place votes to finish in third with 79 points. Bentley (68) and Stonehill (55) rounded out the remainder of the top-five while Franklin Pierce (44), Assumption (27), and Saint Michael’s (16) were featured in spots No. 6-8, respectively.
Over in the Southwest, Le Moyne emerged as the clear-cut favorite by receiving 13 of a possible 15 first-place votes. The Dolphins return the majority of their roster for a program that earned the top seed in last season’s NCAA Division II East Regional. New Haven totaled 71 points with one first-place nod to rank second followed by Adelphi (57) in third.
The College of Saint Rose garnered the final first-place tally, receiving 56 points to slot in right behind the Panthers. Southern Connecticut (54), American International (26) and Pace (16) concluded the bottom third of the poll.
Merrimack opens its season on Saturday with its first of two games in Philadelphia, Pa. when the Warriors take on Jefferson University in the first game of the East Region Conference Challenge.