ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida Southern has been chosen as the preseason favorite to win its third consecutive Sunshine State Conference men's basketball title, while Saint Leo sits in ninth-place in the preseason poll released on Wednesday morning.

The Moccasins collected 118 points in a poll conducted among the league's men's basketball coaches and sports information directors.

FSC just edged out Rollins, which ranked second in the poll with 114 points. The Mocs collected seven first-place votes, while the Tars received six. Voters do not rank their own teams when completing their polls.

Lynn, which collected two first-place nods, gathered 82 points to rank third in the poll. Eckerd's 73 points placed the Tritons fourth. Tampa received 64 points to appear in the fifth slot, while Florida Tech nipped at the Spartans' heels with 63 points. The Panthers received the three remaining first-place votes.

Barry (54), Nova Southeastern (43), and the Lions occupied the final three slots in the preseason rankings.

Head Coach Mike Madagan and the Lions totaled 37 points in the pre-season poll, and were picked to finish two spots lower than they finished last season.  SLU had a 15-16 overall record a season ago, and a 7-9 record in the SSC, which saw them finish in seventh place for the second-straight year. 

Saint Leo returns eight players from last year’s squad, including All-Conference and All-Region selection Jordan Prais as well as impact players Josue Vazquez and Matt Salay.  The trio of returners combined to average nearly 28 minutes per game and score over 12 points per contest.  Newcomers Daniel Oliver, Jeremy Jackson and Matt Kendrick, as well as the return of senior Eric Sharper will look to have a surprise impact within the SSC this year.

The Lions’ schedule tips off with an exhibition game against the University of Florida on Monday, November 2nd in the O’Connell Center in Gainesville and another against the University of Central Florida on November 4th in Orlando.  The regular season gets underway with SLU competing in the 2009 Disney Tip-Off Classic starting on November 6th.

The Lions first game on the home hardwood is scheduled for November 17th against Warner University, while the first SSC contest of the year will be down in Ft. Lauderdale against Nova Southeastern on December 30th.

Rank - School, Points (1st place votes)
1 - Florida Southern, 118 (7)
2 - Rollins, 114 (6)
3 - Lynn, 82 (2)
4 - Eckerd, 73
5 - Tampa, 64
6 - Florida Tech, 63 (3)
7 - Barry, 54
8 - Nova Southeastern, 43
9 - Saint Leo, 37