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The Lakeland College men's basketball team has been selected to finish third in the Northern Athletics Conference North Division by the league's coaches, the conference announced Thursday.
The Muskies, who finished third in the division last year with a 10-6 record, received 52 points.
Defending North Division champion Concordia University Wisconsin, who finished 16-0 last season, has been selected to finish in the top spot seven first-place votes and 64 points. Edgewood College has been slated for the No. 2 spot, receiving five first-place votes and 63 points.
Aurora University has been selected to finish atop the NAC South Division with eight first-place votes and 68 points. The Spartans have claimed four of the last five South championships. Defending champion Benedictine University was selected to finish second with four first-place votes and 63 points.
Lakeland finished last season 16-10 overall and made its second consecutive trip to the NAC Tournament.
"Preseason rankings don't mean a whole lot to our program," said fourth-year head coach Aaron Aanonsen. "It's a great measuring stick, but in the end it comes down to who plays well and stays injury free. I am excited about the year and I think the North Division is going to be extremely competitive."
The Muskies return with a good roster of talent. Junior Jake Schwarz (Sheboygan) returns after a season-ending knee injury early last year. As a sophomore Schwarz led the NAC in scoring with 23.1 points per game which was also good for sixth in the nation. He garnered first team All-NAC and D3hoops.com All-Midwest Region accolades along with being named to the Inside Wisconsin Sports All-State Hoops DII/III second-team.
Senior Josh Regal (Suring) was named second-team All-NAC and returns as the team's leading scorer (12.9 ppg). Sophomore Justin Ward (Wisconsin Dells) represented Lakeland on the All-Freshmen team and returns as the team's leading rebounder (4.6 rpg).
The NAC enters its fourth season of divisional play. Lakeland competes in the North, along with Concordia Wisconsin, Edgewood College, Maranatha Baptist Bible College, Marian University and Rockford College. The Muskies will play each team in its division twice during the regular season.
Aurora University, Benedictine University, Concordia University Chicago, Dominican University, MSOE and Wisconsin Lutheran College make up the South. Lakeland will face each of these teams once.
To see the complete conference preseason poll release click here: http://northernac.org/sports/mbkb/2011-12/releases/2011102706dk4r
For the complete 2011-12 NAC Men's Basketball Preseason Coaches' Poll, see below. First place votes are in parentheses.
2011-12 Northern Athletics Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll
1. Concordia Wisconsin (7), 64
2. Edgewood (5), 63
3. Lakeland, 52
4. Marian, 33
5. Wisconsin Lutheran, 23
6. Maranatha, 17
1. Aurora (8), 68
2. Benedictine (4), 63
3. MSOE, 46
4. Concordia Chicago, 30
5. Dominican, 26
6. Rockford, 19
first-place votes in parentheses
voted by the conference's 12 head coaches
6-5-4-3-2-1 point scale used for each division