WAUKESHA, Wis. The Lakeland Muskies and Aurora Spartans were picked as the favorites to win their respective division, according to the 2012-13 Northern Athletics Conference preseason poll as voted on by the league's head coaches.
The Muskies received 11 of 12 first-place votes and 71 points to top the North Division. Edgewood -- which won the NAC Tournament last season -- received the remaining top vote, but tied Marian with 48 points apiece in a draw for the second spot.
The defending North champion Concordia Wisconsin Falcons were picked fourth with 46 points, followed by MSOE (27) and Maranatha (16).
The Spartans garnered 10 of the first-place votes in the South Division for 68 points and the top spot. Benedictine was tabbed with the remaining two first place votes and 60 points for second, followed by Rockford (41), Concordia Chicago (37), Dominican (30) and Wisconsin Lutheran (16).
Last season, Lakeland (21-7, 12-4 NAC) tied Edgewood (23-7, 12-4 NAC) for second place in the North behind CUW (21-6, 14-2 NAC), and fell to Edgewood in the tournament championship game. The Muskies return a pair of first team All-NAC forwards, senior Jake Schwarz and junior Justin Ward from the team's finest run in recent history.
Aurora (13-13, 8-8 NAC) finished fourth in the South last season, but were just two games back of division co-champs Benedictine (13-14, 10-6 NAC) and Concordia Chicago (10-16, 10-6 NAC).
The league's eight- team conference tournament will take place Feb. 16-23, with the tournament champion receiving the NAC's automatic bid to the 2013 NCAA III Championship Tournament. The top four teams from each division qualify for the conference tournament.
2012-13 Northern Athletics Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll
1. Lakeland (11), 71
2t. Edgewood (1), 48
2t. Marian, 48
4. Concordia Wisconsin, 46
5. MSOE, 27
6. Maranatha, 12
1. Aurora (10), 68
2. Benedictine (2), 60
3. Rockford, 41
4. Concordia Chicago, 37
5. Dominican, 30
6. Wisconsin Lutheran, 16
first-place votes in parentheses
voted by the conference's head coaches
6-5-4-3-2-1 point scale used for each division