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WAUKESHA - The Lakeland College women's basketball team has been tabbed to finish second in the North Division of the Northern Athletic Conference in 2012-13 based on a preseason poll of league coaches released Tuesday by the conference.
The Muskies received 74 points in the poll, including three first-place votes, to rank second of seven teams. Concordia University Wisconsin was picked to finish ahead of Lakeland, receiving 87 points and 10 of the 13 first-place votes.
Edgewood College was third in the North Division with 62 points, followed by Marian University (49), Maranatha Baptist Bible College (43), Milwaukee School of Engineering (30) and Alverno College (18) to round out the North.
Wisconsin Lutheran College is the favorite in the South Division, as the Warriors gained all 13 first-place votes for a total of 78 points. The Warriors have rotated to the South this year after winning the last two North titles, and WLC has won four straight division titles. The Warriors (24-5 overall) finished last season at 17-1 in NAC play, with their lone league loss coming at the hands of Lakeland.
Benedictine University was second in the South with 55 points, just two points ahead of two-time reigning South champions Dominican University (53). Concordia University Chicago (43), Rockford College (22) and Aurora University (20) rounded out the poll in the South.
Lakeland is coming off of an 18-8 overall record last year and finished 13-5 in the North Division, tied for second with Concordia Wisconsin (16-11 overall). Concordia Wisconsin won the North for two-straight seasons ('08-09 and '09-10) prior to Wisconsin Lutheran's rotation to the division the past two years.
The Muskies lost leading scorer Jessica Genke but return three starters from last year's team, including second-leading scorer Becky Mayo (Sr.-Gladstone, Mich.). Lakeland posted a winning record last year in Head Coach Lindsey Vande Hoef's first season, rebounding after the program's string of 18 consecutive winning seasons was snapped in 2010-11.
The NAC's eight-team conference tournament will take place Feb. 16-23, with the tournament champion receiving the conference's automatic bid to the 2013 NCAA Division III Championship Tournament. The top four teams from each division qualify for the conference tournament.
2012-13 Northern Athletics Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll
1. Concordia Wisconsin (10 first-place votes), 87 points
2. Lakeland (3), 74
3. Edgewood, 62
4. Marian, 49
5. Maranatha, 43
6. MSOE, 30
7. Alverno, 18
1. Wisconsin Lutheran (13), 78
2. Benedictine, 55
3. Dominican, 53
4. Concordia Chicago, 43
5. Rockford, 22
6. Aurora, 20