MILWAUKEE, Wis. --- Milwaukee School of Engineering has been installed as the early favorite to capture the 2019-2020 Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC) men's basketball title according to the league's annual preseason poll released Friday.
The NACC preseason poll is voted on by the NACC's head coaches and athletics communications professionals.
MSOE (21-5 overall, 16-4 NACC), which tied Concordia University Wisconsin for the 2018-19 NACC title, received 261 points and 16 of 23 first-place votes. Aurora University, the reigning NACC Tournament champion, is second with 235 points and three first-place votes, followed by Benedictine University in third with 223 points, Illinois Institute of Technology in fourth with 211 points and Concordia Wisconsin in fifth with 206 points. Benedictine received two first-place votes, while Illinois Tech and Concordia Wisconsin each landed in the top spot on one ballot.
Lakeland University (140 points), Edgewood College (139), Wisconsin Lutheran College (120), Marian University (77), Concordia University Chicago (76), Rockford University (68) and Dominican University (38) round out the poll.
|2019 Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference
Men's Basketball Preseason Poll
|Rank||School (1st place votes)||Points||2018 Record|
|1.||MSOE (16)||261||21-5, 16-4 NACC|
|2.||Aurora (3)||235||17-12, 12-8 NACC|
|3.||Benedictine (2)||223||13-12, 10-10 NACC|
|4.||Illinois Tech (1)||211||16-12, 11-9 NACC|
|5.||Concordia Wisconsin (1)||206||18-8, 16-4 NACC|
|6.||Lakeland||140||12-13, 10-10 NACC|
|7.||Edgewood||139||10-16, 10-10 NACC|
|8.||Wisconsin Lutheran||120||12-13, 10-10 NACC|
|9.||Marian||77||7-18, 5-15 NACC|
|10.||Concordia Chicago||76||6-19, 6-14 NACC|
|11.||Rockford||68||12-14, 11-9 NACC|
|12.||Dominican||38||3-22, 3-17 NACC|
New Coaches: The NACC will have three new men's basketball coaches this season. Matt Airy takes over at Aurora after spending the last 11 years as an assistant coach, then assistant head coach, at Whitman College. The Spartans are coming off back-to-back NCAA Championship appearances and have posted 26 consecutive winning seasons.
Steve Kollar is the new mentor at Concordia Chicago, arriving in River Forest after four years as head coach at Blackburn College. No stranger to the NACC, Kollar was the lead assistant and recruiting coordinator at Benedictine from 2013-2015.
The final new face in the NACC this season will be on the Rockford bench where Jeremy Reigle takes over. A one-time Rockford assistant, Reigle makes his way back to the NACC after nine seasons as head coach at Presentation College. While at Presentation, he amassed over 100 victories and became the program's winningest coach.
2019 Schedule: The 2019 NACC men's basketball schedule gets underway Friday, Nov. 8 with five games - Wisconsin Lutheran at North Central (Minn.), MSOE at Northwestern-St. Paul, Concordia Chicago at Loras, Marian at UW-Superior, and Carroll at Rockford.
The conference slate opens up with four games on Saturday, Nov. 23 as Benedictine travels to Illinois Tech, Concordia Chicago is at Marian, MSOE hosts Rockford and Dominican entertains Concordia Wisconsin.
League play concludes on Saturday, Feb. 22 with the top six teams in the final regular-season standings advancing to the NACC Tournament. First-round matches are slated for Tuesday, Feb. 25, with semifinals to be played Thursday, Feb. 27. The semifinal winners will meet on Saturday, Feb. 29 for the tournament crown and the associated automatic berth into the 2020 NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship.