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Keene State Selected As Men's Basketball Preseason Favorite

Keene State Selected As Men's Basketball Preseason Favorite

NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. – Keene State College has been projected as the favorite to capture the 2012-13 Little East men's basketball regular-season title, according to the annual preseason coaches' survey that was released by the conference office this afternoon. The Owls earned six of the eight first place votes and 62 total points to sit atop the preseason coaches' poll for the first time since 1999.

Rhode Island College and Eastern Connecticut State University each received a first place marker. The Anchormen earned the No. 2 ranking on the strength of 54 points, six points ahead of the Warriors. Western Connecticut State University rounded out the top-half of the eight-team preseason survey.

Under the leadership of Rob Colbert, Keene State is making its third overall appearance as the Little East men's basketball preseason favorite. Last winter, the Owls posted an overall record of 19-11, including a 10-4 mark within the conference circuit to finish in a three-way tie for second place. Keene State handed then-No. 1 ranked Middlebury College its first loss of the season to debut at No. 21 in the Division III Top-25 National Poll for the week ending Feb. 4, 2012. It was the first time the Owls were ranked in the national poll since Dec. 3, 2007. Keene State earned the No.4 seed in the Little East Men's Basketball Championship and advanced to the semifinal round after defeating fifth-seeded UMass Dartmouth. The Owls were edged by Eastern Connecticut—the 2012 regular-season and conference tournament champions—in double overtime.

Colbert will welcome back four of its top five scorers from last season, including 2013 Preseason All-American Ryan Martin (Wayne, Maine). In 2012, Martin led the nation in free throw percentage (91.8), while ranking among the conference leaders in three-point percentage (2nd, .450), assists per game (4th, 3.7), scoring (4th, 17.3 ppg), and field goal percentage (8th, .512). He will lead Keene State into its season-opener at Husson University at 7 p.m. on Nov. 15.

Rhode Island College had its two-year run as the conference's preseason favorite snapped by the Owls. Bob Walsh has guided the Anchormen to five consecutive appearances in the NCAA Division III tournament. In 2012, Rhode Island College reached the 20-win mark for the sixth straight season with an overall record of 23-7. The Anchormen won 10 of its 14 conference contests to earn the No.3 seed in the Little East Men's Basketball Championship. Walsh and his charges raced past Plymouth State to advance to the semifinal round where Rhode Island College overcame an 11-point deficit against Western Connecticut. The Anchormen received one of the 19 at-large bids to the national tournament. Rhode Island College defeated Salem State in the first round before falling to host Staten Island.

Walsh will return two starters and a total of eight student-athletes from the 2012 squad. Senior point guard Tahrike Carter (Brooklyn, N.Y.) will run the Anchormen's offensive attack. Carter ranked among the top players in the Little East in assists per game (3rd, 4.2), field goal percentage (6th, .527), and rebounding (9th, 5.5). Rhode Island College will open its 2013 schedule by hosting Lasell College at 8 p.m. on Nov. 15.

Each of the eight conference teams will advance to the 2013 Little East Men's Basketball Championship with the quarterfinal round scheduled to begin on Tuesday, Feb. 19. The four quarterfinal winners will advance to the final four at the highest remaining seed. The semifinal round will be played on Friday, Feb. 22 with the championship game the following afternoon. The champion of the 2013 Little East Men's Basketball tournament will earn the automatic qualifier into the NCAA Division III tournament.

Completing the annual preseason coaches' survey in projected order of finish in the regular season standings are University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (26), University of Massachusetts Boston (24), Plymouth State University (20), and University of Southern Maine (18).

Formed in 1986, the Little East serves as New England's premier athletic conference for public institutions in NCAA Division III. Featuring 19 championship sports, the Little East sponsors quality competition in every season for our student athletes. Our eight state colleges and universities dedicate themselves to an ongoing fulfillment of the Division III mission of passion, responsibility, sportsmanship, and citizenship.

2012-13 Little East Men's Basketball Preseason Coaches' Poll
Rank Institution First Place Total Points
1 Keene State College 6 62
2 Rhode Island College 1 54
3 Eastern Connecticut State University 1 48
4 Western Connecticut State University   36
5 University of Massachusetts Dartmouth   26
6 University of Massachusetts Boston   24
7 Plymouth State University   20
8 University of Southern Maine   18