By Matt Noonan
The Division III basketball season is set to tip-off this week. Numerous teams will have targets on their back due to national or conference rankings, while others will attempt to earn at least this first or second win this week/weekend.
Here are the various conferences that we’ll be covering this winter, along with their links to their season previews.
Commonwealth Coast Conference — Endicott College was tabbed as the favorite, but don’t sleep on Wentworth Institute of Technology or Curry College. Also, keep your eyes pealed on Gordon College, too. The Gulls received 97 points in the preseason ranking, along with eight first place votes.
Great Northeastern Athletic Conference — After securing the conference crown last season, as well as advancing to the second round of the NCAA tournament, Albertus Magnus was picked as the favorite to win the GNAC for the second year in a row. Yet, don’t count out two local squads — Anna Maria College and Emerson College.
Little East Conference — Keene State got the nod as the top squad, while UMass Boston and UMass Dartmouth were picked to finish in the middle of the pack.
Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference — This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, but after their successful campaign last year, Westfield State was chosen to finish first in the MASCAC. Salem State is slated to finished second, Bridgewater State third and Worcester State fourth.
New England Collegiate Conference — Becker College hasn’t lost a conference game since February 2010. The Hawks are expected to finish atop the NECC, but keep your eye on Elms College and Newbury College.
Commonwealth Coast Conference — Salve Regina will be the clear favorite and so will University of New England. However, the best Massachusetts school will be Endicott College. The Gulls received 78 points in the preseason poll, as well as two first place votes.
Great Northeast Athletic Conference — Emmanuel College was selected to finish atop the GNAC after finishing their 2011-12 campaign with a 25-7 record. The Saints will be tough to beat, especially with a majority of their squad returning this season. However, squads like Rivier University, Suffolk University and St. Joe’s of Maine will be in the mix all season.
Little East Conference — University of Southern Maine will be the team to beat in this conference. The Huskies are coming off a 21-7 campaign, so it’ll be interesting to see if their success can continue. UMass Dartmouth was picked to finish fourth, while UMass Boston is predicted to finish seventh.
Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference — Bridgewater State’s season concluded in the first round of the NCAA tournament last March in Amherst. However, despite the setback, the Bears were picked to finish first in the conference. Westfield State is picked to finished second and Worcester State third.
New England Collegiate Conference — Regis College is coming off a 21-6 season. The Pride earned 98 points and eight first place votes, while Elms College secured 86 points and two first place votes.
** We will post the NESCAC and NEWMAC previews when they become available**