ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Fresh off a championship season, Union is slated to finish third in the Appalachian Athletic Conference, according to the 2011-12 AAC Men's Basketball Coaches' Preseason Poll released Tuesday.
The Bulldogs finished the year 16-16 overall and 7-7 in the conference, but they put together a three-game win streak at the right time to win the AAC Tournament and advance to the NAIA National Championship Tournament in Branson, Mo. It was the first conference tournament title for Union since 1972 and the first trip to the national tournament since 1968.
However, a repeat was not predicted by the league's coaches as the Bulldogs received one first-place vote and 65 total points to come in third.
Milligan (Tenn.) and Reinhardt (Ga.) are the favorites to win the conference title as each received 69 total points in the poll with Milligan collecting five first-place votes and Reinhardt two.
Virginia Intermont came in fourth in the poll with 51 points, while Bluefield (Va.) garnered the remaining first-place vote to land fifth with 45 points. Tennessee Wesleyan is sixth at 40 points, Bryan (Tenn.) seventh at 34, Montreat (N.C.) eighth at 21, and Point (Ga.) ninth at 11.
Union opens the season at Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) on Nov. 1 and plays its first home games on Nov. 11-12 during the Bulldog Classic.
The 2012 AAC Tournament is set for Feb. 20-27 with the higher seeds hosting each round.