KANSAS CITY, Mo. – After gaining national attention earlier in the preseason, the Lincoln Memorial University men's basketball team has been chosen as the sixth-best program in the nation heading into the 2019-20 season by the official preseason poll, the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) announced Tuesday morning.
The Railsplitters, who are a preseason top-10 pick by both Street & Smith's and Division II Bulletin, will begin their 2019-20 quest this Friday as No. 6 team in the country according to the NABC Division II Preseason Poll.
West Texas A&M, LMU's season-opening opponent is ranked No. 7 in the preseason top 25, while the Railsplitters' other opening-weekend opponent, Davenport University, is receiving votes. USC Aiken, who LMU will host the following weekend on Saturday, Nov. 9, is also receiving votes in the preseason national poll, along with Christian Brothers, who the Railsplitters will face in Tex Turner Arena Saturday, Nov. 16.
Defending national champion Northwest Missouri State sits atop the NABC Division II Preseason Poll for the second time in three years with 400 total points as Nova Southeastern (375 points) is second and Bellarmine (353 points) third. West Liberty (305 points) is ranked fourth, followed by UC San Diego (294 points), LMU with 278 total points, West Texas A&M (266 points), fellow South Atlantic Conference member Queens (247 points), Southern Nazarene (239 points) and Missouri Southern (220 points).
A total of 60 schools received votes in the national preseason poll and all 23 NCAA Division II conference have at least one of its teams represented as either ranked or receiving votes. Only the SAC and Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association have multiple teams in the top 10.
Six of the eight schools in last year's Elite Eight are among the teams listed in the preseason top 25. National finalist Point Loma (9) is among those receiving votes, along with fellow league member Catawba (15).
The Railsplitters entered last season ranked third in the NABC Division II Preseason Poll.
LMU returns seven of its top eight scorers from 2018-19 and welcomes back four who started at least 18 games, including a pair of All-SAC honorable mention performers in senior guard Anthony Brown (11.8 PPG) and redshirt senior guard/forward Kamaran Calhoun (10.9 PPG). Redshirt sophomore guard Cameron Henry (10.4 PPG) and sophomore guard Courvoisier McCauley (9.8 PPG), both of whom made the SAC All-Freshman Team last year, are back for the Railsplitters, in addition to junior guard Alex Dahling (8.8 PPG), sophomore guard Julius Brown (8.3 PPG) and redshirt senior forward Rhondi Hackett (5.3 PPG).
Welcoming eight total newcomers this season, LMU will also have the services of talented redshirt junior guard Devin Whitfield, who had to sit out 2018-19 after transferring to Harrogate from fellow Division II Trevecca Nazarene in Nashville.
Going 20-9 overall and posting a 14-6 mark in conference play a year ago, the Railsplitters tied for second in the final SAC standings. LMU returns nearly 75 percent of its scoring from last season, over 72 percent of its rebounding and nearly 76 percent of its assists.
Season-Opening Tip-Off The Small College Basketball Hall of Fame Classic in St. Joseph, Missouri, will open up the Railsplitters' 2019-20 campaign this Friday and Saturday, Nov. 1-2. LMU will face the seventh-ranked Buffs of West Texas A&M Friday, Nov. 1 at 4:15 p.m. ET, before taking on Davenport Saturday, Nov. 2 at 2 p.m. ET.
About LMU Basketball LMU has finished within the top two of the final SAC standings for the last nine years, spent 95-straight weeks in the national rankings from December 2010 to December 2016 and completed the season as the top team in the country in two of the last four years. The Railsplitters have posted 20 wins or more for 10 consecutive years and have reached the NCAA Tournament eight of the last nine seasons. Inside Tex Turner Arena, LMU has registered a .925 (135-11) winning percentage this decade to rank sixth nationally in all of college basketball. Only West Liberty (.953), Bellarmine (.949), Kansas (.947), Kentucky (.942) and Duke (.929) own a higher home court winning percentage than the Railsplitters since the 2010-11 season.
About Coach Schertz Since taking over the LMU men's basketball program in March of 2008, head coach Josh Schertz has amassed a remarkable 286-64 (.817) record over the past 11 seasons. Entering the 2019-20 season, Schertz' career winning percentage (.817) is the fifth-highest of any head coach in college basketball at any NCAA level. Furthermore, he ranks third among active head coaches with at least 10 years at the helm - Jim Crutchfield, Nova Southeastern (.844) and Mark Few, Gonzaga (.823) - and owns the second-highest winning percentage among Division II leaders.