High Point, NC – Conference Carolinas released the 2018-19 preseason poll on Wednesday with the King Tornado and the Barton Bulldogs leading the pack with 83 points each.
The King Tornado finished in a tie for first in the preseason poll with 83 points and five first place finish votes. Last season, the Tornado finished with an overall 19-11 record and went 14-4 in Conference Carolinas action. King faced the Belmont Abbey Crusaders in the quarterfinals, but fell in an 82-74 final. They received a bid to the NCAA Tournament as the eight seed, where they fell to the number one seeded Lincoln Memorial in a 90-78 final. The Tornado were tied in first in the poll by the Barton Bulldogs with 83 points and three first place finish votes. The Bulldogs finished the 2017-18 season with a 17-13 record and were 12-6 in Conference Carolinas action. Barton took on the North Greenville Crusaders in the quarterfinals and defeated them in a 91-74 final to advance them to the semifinals. However, the Bulldogs fell to the Lees-McRae Bobcats in the semifinals in a 110-95 final.
The University of Mount Olive Trojans followed the Tornado and Bulldogs in the preseason poll, receiving 80 points and two first place finish votes. The Trojans concluded last season with a 17-12 record and were 12-6 in Conference Carolinas play. Mount Olive advanced to the Conference Carolinas post season tournament, but fell to Limestone in an 81-79 final in the quarterfinals. In their first year of post season eligibility, the Emmanuel Lions took a fourth place spot in the polls. The Lions received 63 votes in the poll after concluding their 2017-18 campaign with a 23-10 overall record.
Coming in in fifth in the Conference Carolina preseason poll are the Lees-McRae Bobcats. The Bobcats received 56 points after going 23-9 last season. Lees-McRae advanced to the Conference Carolinas tournament where they defeated Erskine 86-78 in the quarterfinals and Barton 110-95 in the semifinals. They went on to defeat the Belmont Abbey Crusaders in a 75-72 finish in the championship game to earn their way into the NCAA DII Southeast Regional Championship. However, the Bobcats fell to the Queens Royals in a 90-69 final to conclude their season. The Belmont Abbey Crusaders finished right on the heels of Lees-McRae in the polls, picking up 51 points to take a sixth place slot. The Crusaders of Belmont Abbey finished with a 12-19 overall record last season and went 5-13 in Conference Carolinas action. Belmont Abbey defeated the King Tornado 82-74 in the quarterfinals and the Limestone Saints 63-56 in the semifinals to advance to the Conference Carolinas championship game. However, they fell to the Lees-McRae Bobcats in a 75-72 final to conclude their season.
Sitting in seventh in the poll with 45 points, the Limestone Saints concluded last season with a 13-16 overall record. The Saints were followed in the poll by the North Greenville Crusaders with 34 points, the Erskine Flying Fleet with 25 points and the Southern Wesleyan Warriors with 20 points.
The Warriors finished last season with a 2-26 overall record and went 1-17 in Conference Carolinas action. Returning to the court for Southern Wesleyan are two of their leading scorers in DJ Dobson and Jeremy Wert. Dobson scored 280 points last year while shooting 50.9%. Wert followed with 254 points scored and a 70.9% free throw percentage. Zalan Richards also returns for the Warriors as the second highest rebounder for the team. Richards had 118 rebounds.
"Conference Carolinas is shaping up to be as good as it has ever been this year," said new Head Men's Basketball Coach Nick Pasqua. "I truly think each team in the league is deep, talented, and present a huge challenge every night to win. Our players have worked extremely hard this pre-season, and are eager to see where we can stack up this year in the league. "
Southern Wesleyan will kick-off the season as they host the SWU Tip-Off Classic on November 9 and 10. They will host Carson-Newman on the ninth at 7:30 p.m. before hosting the Anderson Trojans on the tenth at 4 p.m. The Warriors will open up Conference Carolinas action on the road on November 28 as they travel to Tigerville, SC to take on the North Greenville Crusaders at 7:30 p.m. They will host their first Conference Carolinas game of the year against the University of Mount Olive Trojans on December 15 at 4 p.m.