There was no bigger guarantee in the preseason than Albany earning the America East's preseason top spot. The Great Danes are the conference's best hope to spread hope, a nationally-relevant team that needs to carry the league's flag this season. The America East isn't exactly Albany's Playground of Infinite Destruction this season, but it looks more like that than a Sharing & Caring convention.
Reigning America East champion University at Albany, the 10th ranked team in the nation, is the preseason favorite to retain its league title as the Great Danes were the unanimous pick in the preseason poll by the league’s head coaches Wednesday afternoon. Albany received all five first-place votes and 25 points in a vote of the league’s head coaches, who were not allowed to vote for their own team.
Here's how the voting shook out (voters could not cast a ballot for their own team):
Based on the point tabulations some tiering in the voting is visible: Tier I -- Albany and Stony Brook, but the voting gap would likely be bigger if Scott Marr didn't have to throw a first-place vote anywhere other than toward the Great Danes; Tier II -- UMBC, in its own space but closer to Tier III than to where Albany and Stony Brook reside; Tier III -- Binghamton and Hartford, separated by only a point and the heart of the conference's tournament race this season; and Tier IV -- Vermont, a unanimous selection to finish the season as the league's weakest team.
The Great Danes as the America East's heavy favorite is not surprising. What is somewhat surprising is that Stony Brook is entrenched as the league's assumed second-best team. (The first-place vote that the Seawolves received increased their point total, but Stony Brook would still have been locked into the second position fairly strongly even without that tally.) The Seawolves' point total signals relative belief in Stony Brook to avoid the sideways season it experienced in 2013, a year in which the team suffered four one-goal losses.