WATERVILLE, Maine – The Castleton University men's basketball team was selected to finish third in the North Atlantic Conference in the upcoming season, as the 2016-17 NAC Men's Basketball Preseason Coaches' Poll was released Thursday by the league office.
Husson, which has won the NAC Tournament title in three of the last four seasons, received all 10 first-place votes for a unanimous selection as the preseason favorite with 100 points. Second place Colby-Sawyer finished just ahead of Castleton with 76 points, followed by the Spartans with 72 points, Johnson State in fourth place with 63 points, and Green Mountain with 58 points for fifth place. Lyndon State and Thomas tied for sixth place with 50 points, ahead of Maine Maritime (35 pts.), New England College (24 pts.), and Maine-Farmington (22 pts.)
The Spartans return nine players, including three starters, from the squad that posted a 9-17 overall record last season, including an 8-10 mark within the league to finish in a tie for sixth place. Castleton lost in the quarterfinals of the NAC Tournament last season to Thomas, snapping a six-year streak of advancing to at least the conference tournament semifinals.
Castleton is led by junior Tondi Mushandu, who averaged 9.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, including 11.0 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in conference play. Pavin Parrish is also back for Castleton after leading the team with 78 assists last season, while Chad Copeland, who was averaging 14.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game before suffering a season-ending injury last year, will return for a final season.
Castleton opens the 2016-17 season Tuesday, Nov. 15, at Skidmore College, followed by home games against Curry Friday, Nov. 18, at 7 p.m. and Plymouth State Tuesday, Nov. 22, at 7:30 p.m. The Spartans open the league schedule at home against New England College Wednesday, Nov. 30, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Glenbrook Gym, as this season the men's basketball game will be the first of each conference doubleheader.