What we know: The Eagles were the No. 3 choice in the Patriot League’s preseason poll, but the gap between front-runners Lehigh and Bucknell and everyone else is vast. Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum is an AP preseason first-team all-American and Bucknell’s Mike Muscala is the league’s premier big man. AU will counter with senior forward Stephen Lumpkins, who returns from a one-year absence to pursue a pro baseball career. He averaged 13.5 points and 8.2 rebounds in 2010-11.

What we don’t know: AU will need to compensate for the graduation of Charles Hinkle and Troy Brewer, who accounted for 30.3 points per game last season. Their ability to score from outside and attack the lane led the Eagles to a fourth 20-win season in five years. Coach Jeff Jones, in his 13th season at AU, will turn to senior point guard Daniel Munoz, the league’s assists leader, and Rutgers transfer Austin Carroll, a shooting guard, for production.

Prediction: The Eagles have never finished worse than fourth since joining the conference in 2001 and never failed to reach the tournament semifinals. This year should not be any different. Advancing to the final, however, is a tall order. They will have their ups and downs in non-league play – Minnesota, Georgetown and Kansas – but Lumpkins and junior center Tony Wroblicky provide the size and experience to be competitive.

— Steven Goff

9 at Minnesota 8
12 at Quinnipiac 7
15 Mount St. Mary’s 7:30
19 San Francisco 7:30
24 at Florida Atlantic 1
28 at Saint Joseph’s 7
1 St. Francis (Pa.) 2
4 at Howard 7
6 at UMBC 7
9 Columbia 2
18 at Hampton 7
22 at Georgetown noon
29 at Kansas 8
3 UMES 7:30
6 Cornell 2
12 at Colgate 2
16 Lehigh 7:30
19 at Holy Cross 2
23 Navy 7:30
26 at Army 3
30 Bucknell 7:30
2 Lafayette 2
9 Colgate 3
13 at Lehigh 7
17 Holy Cross noon
20 at Navy 7
23 Army 2
27 at Bucknell 7
2 at Lafayette noon
6, 9, 13 Patriot League tournament TBD