KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Lincoln Memorial University men's basketball team will open the 2016-17 season ranked No. 2 in the National Association of Basketball Coaches Division II poll, as the NABC released its preseason prognostication on Tuesday, Nov.1. It marks the second top-three preseason ranking for the Railsplitters, who were tabbed No. 3 in the Division II Bulletin preseason rankings.
The Railsplitters are coming off of a banner 2015-16 season that was highlighted by a laundry list of accomplishments. Lincoln Memorial won a South Atlantic Conference- and program-record 34 games while becoming the first team in league history on either the men's or women's side to run the table in league play, finishing a perfect 22-0 to win an unprecedented fourth straight SAC regular-season title. Lincoln Memorial also won its third all-time SAC tournament title. The Railsplitters also became the first men's basketball team in SAC history to play in the NCAA Division II National Championship. Along the way, Lincoln Memorial churned out 24 straight wins, the longest winning streak in SAC and program history. Only two of those 24 wins were decided by fewer than 10 points. Lincoln Memorial ended the season ranked No. 1 in the NABC/Division II poll and recorded its second consecutive 30-win season. In addition to that, the Railsplitters won at least 25 games for the sixth straight season. Heading into the 2016-17 campaign, the Railsplitters have been ranked in the top-25 of the NABC poll for 90 consecutive weeks dating back to December, 2010. That is the second-longest such streak in the history of the Division II men's basketball rankings.
West Liberty took the top spot in the NABC/Division II preseason poll with 11 first-place votes and 394 total points. The Hilltoppers, who lost to the Railsplitters 103-102 in the national semifinal last season in Frisco, Texas, edged Lincoln Memorial by 26 points. Bellarmine took the third spot with four first-place votes and 357 points, while Saginaw Valley State and Alabama-Huntsville rounded out the top five. No. 6 Northwest Missouri State, No. 7 Wheeling Jesuit, No. 8 St. Thomas Aquinas, No. California Baptist and No. 10 Tarleton State finished off the second half of the top 10. The Railsplitters will play seven games this season against teams represented in the NABC/Division II preseason rankings in Bellarmine (1/31), Alabama-Huntsville (11/19), Queens (1/7, 2/18), Kentucky Wesleyan (11/18) and Wingate (12/14, 2/4). The latter three teams are noted in the receiving votes section of the poll. The Railsplitters kick off the 2016-17 season on November 11 at 6 p.m. against King in the SAC vs. Conference Carolinas Challenge. Lincoln Memorial plays its home opener on November 30, welcoming Lenoir-Rhyne to Tex Turner Arena for a rematch of the last season's Sweet 16 showdown against the Bears.
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