The Owens Community College Express men's and women's basketball programs are each ranked in the top 10 in the National Junior College Athletic Association D-II preseason poll.
The men's program, after last season's trip to the NJCAA D-II Final Four, is ranked eighth. The team finished 26-10 overall last year, won the district championship, and finished fourth in the nation.
This year's forecast is the highest preseason ranking for the men's basketball program since the 2006-07 team, which also was predicted to finish fourth. Last year, the team opened the season at No. 17.
The men's team will open the season at home on Friday against Washtenaw Community College at 7 p.m. It will be only the third ever meeting between the two teams.
The Express women's basketball team is ranked ninth to open the season. The team finished 28-8 last season, while winning the Ohio Community College Athletic Conference title for the second time in three years and captured its first district championship since 2003-04 to advance to the NJCAA D-II National Tournament, where the team went 3-1 and finished seventh.
Alyssa Lassey, who played for the women's team in 2011-12 before focusing solely on softball last year, returns for her sophomore season. Paige Wright, a sophomore guard transfer from Saginaw Valley State University, will give the Express a versatile shooting presence. Kamilah Carter, who redshirted last season after transferring from Midland College in Texas, will play at the point guard position. Those three sophomores join the other two returners, Eboni Adams and Malaysha Cammon.
This year's preseason poll marks the second straight and third time in the past four years that the women's program has opened the season in the top 10.
The women's team opens its regular season schedule this weekend with games on the road against Kirkwood Community College at 1 p.m. on Friday and Southeastern Community College on Saturday at 4 p.m. The team opens its home season on Nov. 8-9 in the Owens Tip Off Classic with games against Mercyhurst North East CC and No. 10 Monroe College.
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