(HALIFAX, N.S.) - In a vote by the conference's eight head coaches, the three-time defending AUS champion Dalhousie Tigers were selected as the pre-season favourite to claim a fourth consecutive Atlantic conference title.
This marks the third year of the AUS pre-season coaches' poll, which is voted on by the league's eight head coaches, who rank the other seven teams and are not permitted to vote for their own team.
The Tigers, bronze medallists at the 2017 U SPORTS Final 8 men's basketball championship last March at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, received six first-place votes and 48 total points in this year's poll.
Dalhousie completed their pre-season exhibition schedule with a 9-1 record and open the season ranked sixth nationally.
The Acadia Axemen, hosts of this year's national championship in Halifax, were second in the poll after receiving one first place vote and a total of 42 points. The Axemen finished in fifth place last season with a 10-10 record, went on to defeat Memorial 73-65 in AUS quarter-final play before losing to Dalhousie 78-75 in semifinal action. The Axemen posted a 5-3 record in pre-season play.
The UNB Varsity Reds and StFX X-Men tied for third in the voting with each squad picking up 34 points respectively. UNB's total also included a first place vote.
The X-Men return reigning league MVP Kevin Bercy while UNB will be led by senior guard Javon Masters who is on the verge of becoming the all-time AUS career scoring leader. Through four seasons, Masters has scored 1,941 points and trails only former UPEI Panthers star Curtis Robinson who scored 2,069 points from 1991/92 to 1995/96.
The Saint Mary's Huskies, who lost last year's AUS final to the Tigers by a score of 63-60, came in fifth in the poll with 27 total points while the Cape Breton Capers, looking to improve on their 0-20 record from a year ago, landed in sixth spot after receiving 15 points in the voting.
The Memorial Sea-Hawks and UPEI Panthers round out the 2017 pre-season poll, receiving 14 points and 10 points respectively in the voting. The Sea-Hawks finished fourth in the conference standings last season while the Panthers will look to return to Scotiabank Centre after missing the post-season in 2016-17. The Panthers are led by first-year head coach Darrell Glenn.
2017-18 AUS Men's Basketball Preseason Coaches' Poll:
1. Dalhousie, (6), 48 pts.
2. Acadia (1), 42 pts.
T3. UNB, (1) 34 pts.
T3. StFX, 34 pts.
5. Saint Mary's, 27 pts.
6. Cape Breton, 15 pts.
7. Memorial, 14 pts.
8. UPEI, 10 pts.
The 2017-18 regular season gets underway Wednesday night in Halifax when the Dalhousie Tigers host the StFX X-Men at 8 p.m., followed by all eight teams seeing action this weekend.
This week's upcoming schedule is as follows:
Wed. Nov. 1 - StFX at Dalhousie, 8 p.m.
Fri. Nov. 3 - UPEI at Saint Mary's, 8 p.m.
Fri. Nov. 3 - Cape Breton at UNB, 8 p.m.
Sat. Nov. 4 - Cape Breton at UNB, 3 p.m.
Sat. Nov. 4 – Dalhousie at StFX, 8 p.m.
Sat. Nov. 4 – UPEI at Saint Mary's, 8 p.m.
Sat. Nov. 4 – Memorial at Acadia, 8 p.m.
Sun. Nov. 5 – Memorial at Acadia, 3 p.m.
For the full 2017-18 AUS men's basketball schedule, click here.
All games will be webcast live at www.AUStv.ca.