Springfield Central No. 1 in preseason boys hoop poll

Tonight we unveiled our first statewide MIAA boys basketball poll of the 2012-13 season, with many teams across Massachusetts opening up their seasons next week.

To see the complete poll, CLICK HERE. A few notes and observations:

Springfield Central at No. 1: Even after graduating a loaded senior class from last year's Division 1 state champion squad, Springfield Central is still the state's No. 1 team in the minds of many of our panelists. Optimism remains abound on Roosevelt Ave., and it hard's not to when you look at the bigger picture. Central returns All-State forward Kamari Robinson and Cornelius Tyson, the latter of whom took the state by storm with his 16-point second-half outburst in the D1 state title win over Brockton last March. The Golden Eagles are also debuting a key transfer, 6-foot-7 sophomore Chris Baldwin, who spent last season at the Hillside School and is considered a rising Class of 2015 prospect in New England.

For those who recall, the Golden Eagles seized the No. 1 spot in our poll just before the start of the MIAA playoffs, and have held onto it since. They also hold a 24-game active win streak against in-state opponents, best in Massachusetts.

City A, MVC dominate: Nine of the 25 teams in the poll come from either the Boston City League or Merrimack Valley Conference. All four of the MVC teams represented in the poll come from the league's "Large" division -- Central Catholic (2), newcomer North Andover (8), Andover (11) and Lowell (13). Meanwhile, the City has five teams represented, with all of them coming from the newly-formed "A" division: New Mission (4), Brighton (10), East Boston (15), Madison Park (20) and Charlestown (23).

Also keep an eye on Dorchester, a strong contender in City B which slipped its way into our "Last 10 out" section to start the season.

Hock represented, too: The Hockomock League was the other big presence on the poll, with three teams represented -- Mansfield (6), Franklin (19) and Taunton (25). The Kelly-Rex divsion figures to be an interesting race, with those three teams vying for the divisional crown. In the Davenport division, Sharon and Stoughton figure as the contenders.

Slim pickings west of I-495: Only three teams are represented from the Central and West districts -- the aforementioned Springfield Central (1), St. John's of Shrewsbury (5) and Doherty (21). The former two are considered strong favorites in their respective districts, but there are a few other teams to pay attention to.

In the West, keep an eye on Springfield Putnam, West Springfield, and last year's D3 state runner-up, St. Joseph Central out of Pittsfield. All three fell into our "Last 10 out". In the Central district, keep an eye on Wachusett and Worcester South, the latter falling into our "Last 10 out".

Here is how the poll breaks down by league affiliation:

Boston City – 5

Merrimack Valley – 4

Hockomock – 3

Big Three - 2

Catholic Conference - 2

Bay State – 1

Central Mass. Conference – 1

Greater Boston - 1

Inter-High – 1

Middlesex - 1

Northeastern – 1

South Coast – 1

South Shore – 1

Valley League - 1