If the forecasts are right, it’ll be another battle between Keene State College and Eastern Connecticut State for the top spot in the Little East Conference men’s basketball standings.

The defending champion Owls were picked second in the LEC preseason coaches’ poll, the league office announced Thursday. The Owls received 57 points and four first place votes, only one point behind Eastern.

The Owls are coming off a 20-8 season, and 11-3 in the LEC. They won both the LEC regular season and tournament championships, and reached the NCAA tournament for the third time in five years.

KSC graduated All-American Ty Nichols, the program’s all-time leading scorer, but returns 11 players, including All-LEC Center James Anozie (14.8 ppg, 58.6 FG percent), as well as senior Ben Olson, junior Miguel Prieto, sophomores Edwin Ezedonmwen, Tony Harris and Nyzair Rountree.

KSC opens its season at Springfield College Tuesday, Nov. 12. The Owls’ home opener is scheduled for a week later when national preseason No. 13 Middlebury College comes to Spaulding Gym.

— Sentinel Staff