TOLEDO — The Toledo men's basketball team was tabbed to win the West Division in the 2012-13 Mid-American Conference Men's Basketball Preseason Poll released on Tuesday. The poll was announced prior to the league's preseason media teleconference and was determined by a 24-member MAC News Media Panel.
The Rockets received 20 first-place votes and 143 points, while Ohio was tabbed as the East Division winner with 19 first-place votes and 141 points. The Bobcats also garnered 18 votes to win the FirstEnergy MAC Men's Basketball Tournament with Akron receiving six votes.
Head Coach Tod Kowalczyk is entering his third season at UT's helm and orchestrated a dramatic turnaround in the 2011-12 campaign. The Rockets registered the second-largest turnaround in NCAA Division I Basketball last year by compiling a 19-17 win-loss mark and advancing to post-season play for the first time in five years.
UT returns its entire starting lineup, including second-team All-MAC honoree and junior Rian Pearson (16.4 ppg, 8.3 rpg) and 2011-12 MAC Freshman of the Year Julius Brown (11.9 ppg, 4.9 apg) who were named to the West Division preseason All-MAC squad.
Following UT in the West Division was defending champ Eastern Michigan (118 pts., 4 first-place votes), Western Michigan (88 pts.), Ball State (74 pts.), Northern Illinois (46 pts.) and Central Michigan (35 pts.)
Joining Pearson and Brown on the West Division squad were Ball State's Jesse Berry, Northern Illinois' Abdel Nader and Western Michigan's Nate Hutcheson
Reigning regular-season champion Akron was picked second behind Ohio in the East with 122 pts. (5 first-place votes) followed by Kent State (89 pts.), Buffalo (68 pts.), Bowling Green (53 pts.) and Miami (31 pts.).
The East Division squad is comprised of Ohio's D.J. Cooper and Walter Offutt, Buffalo's Javon McCrea, Akron's Zeke Marshall and Bowling Green's A'uston Calhoun.
Toledo tips off its regular season in nine days by playing three road games over a six-day span beginning on Friday, Nov. 9 at Horizon League member Loyola (IL). UT will then visit Big Ten foe Minnesota on Monday, Nov. 12 before heading to Missouri Valley Conference member Northern Iowa on Wednesday, Nov. 14.