FOREST, Va. --- Defending ODAC champion Guilford College starts out the new season just where it left off the previous campaign as the Quakers were picked atop the 2017-18 ODAC Men's Basketball Preseason Poll. Guilford earned eight first place votes on the way to 117 overall poll points. Randolph-Macon College sits second with 104 tallies and a pair of top considerations, while just two markers separate Virginia Wesleyan University from Emory & Henry College for third place. The Marlins picked up 95 points and one first place vote, while the Wasps got the remaining top nod as part of 93 points in the annual coaches' survey.
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For the second time in as many years, the ODAC's lone representative in the 2017 NCAA Division III Tournament was its automatic qualifier. Guilford's path to the national stage began with a 63-53 triumph over Hampden-Sydney in the ODAC quarterfinals. The semifinals proved a nail-biter as the Quakers recovered from an eight-point halftime deficit to punch its ticket to the league title game with a 67-64 victory over Virginia Wesleyan. Their opponents, Emory & Henry, toppled Roanoke College, 81-62, before running into its own tight contest against Washington and Lee. E&H, which trailed by six at the break, churned out a 69-67 decision over the Generals.
The title game featured an even first half in score line, but the Quakers owned an eight-point lead on several occasions before eventually peaking at a nine-point advantage. The Wasps closed the opening 20 minutes on a run, sending the game to the intermission at 29-all. The second frame was tight for the first 10 minutes with Guilford maintaining an edge of four points or fewer over that span. E&H stayed within reach until the final minutes where Guilford's lead grew to 10 points, eventually resulting in a 63-53 Guilford win for the program's third overall crown and first since 2010.
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Guilford's stay in the national field that featured an original 64 entrants lasted two games. The Quakers headed to Marietta, Ohio, for first and second round action in Ban Johnson Arena at Marietta College. Guilford took a liking to the neutral site in its first game, thumping Thomas More College, 74-54, and setting up a date with the host Pioneers. Marietta took advantage of its friendly confines with an 88-64 win to eliminate the Quakers.
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There will be plenty opportunity for new players to make a name for themselves in 2017-18 with just eight all-conference honorees returning to league rosters. Still, the list of returners is accomplished. Reigning ODAC Coach of the Year Tom Palombo returns two All-ODAC standouts including first team forward Carson Long and third team big man Alston Thompson. Guilford is the lone school returning multiple all-conference performers.
Just one other first team choice is back this season with Washington and Lee post Clayton Murtha joining Long. Roanoke guard C.J. Miles leads a trio from the second team that includes Randolph-Macon forward Daniel Noe and Lynchburg College forward Connor Schroeder. Thompson is joined by two other third team returners in Randolph College guard Ryan Fields and Eastern Mennonite University guard RaShawn Latimer.
The remaining award winner from last season is Emory & Henry guard Colin Molden, who returns after securing ODAC Rookie of the Year laurels.
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Two new head coaches take over the reins at member schools. Adam Walsh is the new head man at Shenandoah University following a seven-year run at Centenary College (La.). Washington and Lee University also features a new mentor with 2009 alum Chris McHugh taking over the lead chair from Adam Hutchinson, for whom McHugh played.
The 2017-18 season kicks off on Wednesday, November 15, with eight league schools in action versus non-conference opponents. The first ODAC game is slated for Sunday, November 26, with several more on tap before a break surrounding to the holiday season.
Listed below is the 2017-18 ODAC Men's Basketball Preseason Poll. For more information on ODAC men's basketball, visit any of the participating school's websites, or go to the ODAC's home on the Internet at www.odaconline.com and view the men's basketball virtual media guide. The virtual media guide and this release will be updated with interviews featuring the ODAC's head coaches from media day.
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2017-18 ODAC MEN'S BASKETBALL PRESEASON POLL
(#) Denotes First Place Votes
|1. Guilford College (8)||117 pts.|
|2. Randolph-Macon College (2)||104 pts.|
|3. Virginia Wesleyan University (1)||95 pts.|
|4. Emory & Henry College (1)||93 pts.|
|5. Roanoke College||84 pts.|
|6. Lynchburg College||70 pts.|
|7. Washington and Lee University||54 pts.|
|8. Hampden-Sydney College||51 pts.|
|9. Eastern Mennonite University||46 pts.|
|10. Randolph College||36 pts.|
|11. Bridgewater College||24 pts.|
|12. Shenandoah University||18 pts.|