GORHAM, Maine - Two-time defending conference tournament champion Western Connecticut State University received six first place votes and 61 total points to earn top honors in the Little East Conference annual poll of the league's eight men's basketball head coaches.
Western Connecticut finished ahead of Plymouth State University, which earned the final two first place votes and 57 total points. The two teams met in the finals of the 2003 LEC Tournament, and Western Connecticut pulled out a 65-63 triumph. The Colonials, who won the regular-season title with an 11-3 league ledger, advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, before concluding the year with an overall mark of 21-8.
Plymouth State and Keene State College finished in a tie for second place in the final conference standings with identical 10-4 slates. The Owls, who received 50 points to finish third in the preseason poll, advanced to the championship game of the ECAC Tournament and finished the year with an overall mark of 22-8. The Panthers bowed in the opening round of the ECAC Tournament and registered a final mark of 21-8.
The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth collected 30 points to narrowly finish ahead of fifth place Rhode Island College, which tallied 28 points, and sixth place Eastern Connecticut State University, which received 27 points. The University of Massachusetts Boston and the University of Southern Maine tied for seventh with 18 points.
The eight conference members will play a 14-game regular-season league schedule, consisting of home and away contests against the league's seven foes. All eight league teams will participate in the 2004 Little East Conference Tournament, in which the top four teams will host quarterfinal round games on Tuesday, February 24. The highest-remaining seed will host the semifinals and championship game scheduled for Friday and Saturday, February 28-29.
The Little East Conference Tournament champion will receive the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Little East Conference Men's Basketball Pre-Season Coaches' Poll
Team (First Place Votes) Pts
1. Western Connecticut State University (6) 61
2. Plymouth State University (2) 57
3. Keene State College 50
4. University of Massachusetts Dartmouth 30
5. Rhode Island College 28
6. Eastern Connecticut State University 27
T-7. University of Massachusetts Boston 18
T-7. University of Southern Maine 18
(Courtesy of The Little East Conference)