ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Coaches of the Empire 8 Conference tabbed Stevens Institute of Technology as the favorites to top the standings for the sixth-consecutive season in the league’s annual preseason poll. The Ducks have won the conference every year since joining the Empire 8 Conference. They went unbeaten and untied through the conference slate in 2011.

The Ducks received six first-place votes and 48 points to claim the top spot by a wide margin.

Just three points separate the second, third and fourth-ranked teams. Nazareth tallied 35 points to claim second place. After taking Stevens to the final minutes of the Empire 8 Championship game, Elmira was predicted to finish third with 33 points and Ithaca is in the fourth spot with 32 points.

Utica came in fifth with 24 points, just ahead of newcomer Houghton who received 21 points. Completing the poll were Alfred and St. John Fisher.

2011 Empire 8 Player-of-the-Year Zach Adler headlines the returners for Stevens as the Ducks return six all-conference selections for their title defense.