KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Lincoln Memorial men's basketball team will open the 2018-19 season ranked No. 3 in the NABC/Division II Coaches Poll, it was announced on Wednesday.
The Railsplitters went 32-2 last season, marking an unprecedented fourth consecutive 30-win season for the program. Lincoln Memorial also won its sixth straight South Atlantic Conference regular-season title, captured its fourth SAC tournament crown and made its eighth straight trip to the NCAA tournament. For the third time in four seasons, the Railsplitters hosted the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional and ended the season ranked No. 1 in the country after making their third consecutive Sweet 16 appearance.
All told, LMU has compiled a 126-14 cumulative record over the past four seasons, including an 82-4 mark in SAC play. The Railsplitters enter the 2018-19 season as the second-winningest team in all of Division II basketball this decade in terms of both winning percentage (.860) and total victories (252).
Lincoln Memorial was also ranked in the top five nationally in two other preseason polls, coming in at No. 4 in both the Division II Bulletin preseason rankings and the Street & Smith's preseason poll. The Railsplitters have been ranked No. 1 in the country in the NABC poll at some point during each of the past four seasons.
LMU has been blessed with continuity on its roster in recent years, but that will not necessarily be the case this season, as the Railsplitters graduated four starters and six of their top eight scorers off last year's No. 1 nationally-ranked juggernaut. That includes All-Americans Emanuel Terry and Dorian Pinson as well as leading scorer Trevon Shaw.
The Railsplitters bring back only six players that made at least 20 appearances last season, led by starting point guard Cornelius Taylor, who was tabbed as a preseason All-American by both the DII Bulletin and Street & Smith. Taylor averaged 14.5 points per game while shooting 45.3 percent from the field, including a 37.7 percent mark from three-point range.
Other than Taylor, no returning player averaged more than six points per game last season, while 14 of the team's 21 players have never played a game for the Railsplitters.
Bellarmine and West Liberty are one and two in the NABC poll, while West Texas A&M and Northwest Missouri State round out the top five. No. 6 Saint Anselm, No. 7 Queens, No. 8 Indiana, Pa., No. 9 Cal Poly Pomona and No. 10 Southern Nazarene make up the remainder of the top 10.
The Railsplitters open the 2018-19 season in earnest on Friday with an exhibition contest at Auburn, who enters the season ranked No. 11 in the AP poll. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. at Auburn Arena.