by Ken Pomeroy on Wednesday, January 1, 2014
This is part two of my look at every conference race using a Monte Carlo and my current ratings for each team. The listed numbers are how many simulations each team won out of 10000, so divide that number by 100 to get the percent chance I am giving each team of winning the one-seed for its conference tournament. (Note: not all teams listed are eligible for their conference tournament, so in some cases it’s a mythical one-seed.) If a team isn’t listed, I didn’t forget about them - they didn’t win a single simulation.
Conferences are ordered from least to most competitive. I’ll tackle the ten-most competitive conference races in the final part tomorrow. The following results include all games played through yesterday.
The pick: Stephen F. Austin. The Jacks have continued to roll under first-year head coach Brad Underwood and it looks like they’ll be favored in every Southland game except for a January 23rd game at Oral Roberts.
The contrarian pick: Oral Roberts. After a two-year stint in the Southland, ORU is going back to the Summit next season, which has something to do with the fact that nine of the 14 Southland teams are rated worse than #300.
Stephen F. Austin 6357 Oral Roberts 2168 Northwestern St. 1000 Sam Houston St. 360 Southeastern Louisiana 90 New Orleans 9 Houston Baptist 6 Nicholls St. 5 McNeese St. 3 Texas A&M Corpus Chris 2
20. Big West
The pick: UC Santa Barbara. The Gauchos are more than just Alan Williams. OK, no, they’re actually just Alan Williams, but he is a really good player.
The contrarian pick: UC Irvine. If you follow the Big West, then you might think Hawaii at 10-3 would even be the favorite. But keep in mind they play their non-conference schedule almost entirely at home, where they have one of the best home court advantages in the country. What I’m saying is UC Irvine at 7-7, playing a few road games against Pac-12 teams, has about the same chance as the Rainbow Warriors.
UC Santa Barbara 5690 Hawaii 1883 UC Irvine 1804 Cal Poly 362 Long Beach St. 181 Cal St. Fullerton 70 Cal St. Northridge 9 UC Riverside 1
The pick: Toledo. The Rockets’ unbeaten run ended at Kansas on Monday night, but their streak of scoring at least 1.08 PPP in every game didn’t.
The contrarian pick: Eastern Michigan. Rob Murphy’s team has been the surprise of the conference so far, and convincing wins over Green Bay and Cleveland State are solid evidence that they’ll win a few games in league play.
Toledo 5087 Ohio 2264 Akron 818 Eastern Michigan 573 Western Michigan 440 Buffalo 403 Kent St. 334 Bowling Green 64 Miami OH 13 Ball St. 4 Northern Illinois 2
18. Big East
The pick: Villanova. The Big East seas have kind of parted for the Wildcats with Georgetown and Marquette struggling more than expected. This is looking like a two team race. Villanova’s win at Butler yesterday was probably underrated by most. It boosted their title chances by 3%.
The contrarian pick: Creighton. This isn’t all that contrarian. I had actually pencilled Marquette in here because the offense has to come around at some point, right? After seeing it shut down by the Jays less-than-stellar D last night, it’s clear that it might not.
Villanova 5049 Creighton 3427 Georgetown 642 Xavier 587 Marquette 138 Butler 93 St. John's 49 Providence 9 Seton Hall 7 DePaul 1
17. Big 12
The pick: Oklahoma State. The Cowboys don’t seem to get the respect they deserve because they lack a true big. (Especially so with Michael Cobbins done for the season.) Either it’s a point guard’s game or not people. What’s it going to be this season?
The contrarian pick: Iowa State. Well, the Cyclones are one of seven remaining unbeatens, so this isn’t all that contrarian, but with Baylor in the AP top ten and Kansas’s omission from it being the best example of how useless the polls are, ISU is the de facto contrarian choice.
Oklahoma St. 5005 Kansas 2943 Iowa St. 1391 Baylor 483 Texas 68 Kansas St. 46 Oklahoma 32 West Virginia 31 Texas Tech 1
The pick: Drexel. Before the season, the CAA race was one of the most difficult to predict, but the Dragons have emerged as a surprisingly heavy favorite despite not really overachieving. They were ranked 83rd preseason and are ranked 82nd now.
The contrarian pick: Delaware. The Blue Hens are the classic team that doesn’t have any quality wins, but has demonstrated in their losses that they are going to be trouble in conference play. They’ve hung with the likes of Villanova, full-strength Notre Dame, and Richmond on the road. So I give Delaware’s Kyle Anderson a 25% chance of playing his last game after UCLA’s Kyle Anderson this season.
Drexel 4971 Delaware 3450 Northeastern 630 Towson 508 College of Charleston 213 William & Mary 162 James Madison 44 UNC Wilmington 19 Hofstra 3
The pick: Elon. The Phoenix’s 7-7 record has been the result of a brutal non-conference slate. That schedule isn’t over, though. Somehow, they host UMass on January 18th. Upset alert!
The contrarian pick: Wofford. The Terriers are 5-7, but they’ve played well against quality opponents, and they only have to play Elon once so the schedule gives them an edge over Davidson. They also have an all-name teamer in point guard Indiana Faithfull.
Elon 4790 Davidson 2306 Wofford 1212 Western Carolina 1130 Georgia Southern 361 Samford 58 Furman 44 Chattanooga 37 UNC Greensboro 33 Appalachian St. 29
14. Big Ten
The pick: Ohio State. The Buckeyes continue to easily lead the country in adjusted defensive efficiency, having held every opponent but one below 1 PPP.
The contrarian pick: Iowa. Well, the Hawkeyes would be a good contrarian pick if they had Wisconsin’s schedule. Instead, they get to play Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Michigan, and Minnesota twice each. So if Iowa does win the league, it will be be an amazing accomplishment.
Ohio St. 4524 Wisconsin 2223 Michigan St. 1758 Iowa 891 Michigan 365 Minnesota 165 Illinois 40 Indiana 31 Nebraska 2
13. Mountain West
The pick: San Diego State. The MW has been a colossal disappointment, currently sitting tenth in the conference ratings. The Aztecs have been one of the few overachievers.
The contrarian pick: UNLV. The Rebels got off to an extremely shaky start, but have looked like a competent squad in recent weeks. Nobody is going to confuse UNLV’s point-guard-playing Smiths with Kenny Smith or even Ishmael Smith, but the conference is so down that it wouldn’t be crazy if they won it.
San Diego St. 4465 New Mexico 1901 Boise St. 1658 UNLV 1008 Utah St. 671 Wyoming 228 Colorado St. 45 Fresno St. 21 Nevada 2
The pick: Green Bay. The Phoenix has spent most of the season in the lower end of the top 100 and has the claim to fame of giving Wisconsin its closest game so far (a three-point Badger win in Green Bay).
The contrarian pick: Cleveland State. The Vikings are coming off a road win against Kent State, and as you may remember, put a rather large second-half scare into Kentucky about a month ago.
Green Bay 4168 Cleveland St. 2243 Valparaiso 863 Oakland 648 Detroit 570 Youngstown St. 544 Milwaukee 515 Wright St. 440 Illinois Chicago 9
The pick: Texas Southern. Mike Davis’s team has gotten a boost from transfer Aaric Murray. The Tigers’ annual buy-game barnstorming tour included a win at Temple when Murray exploded for 48.
The contrarian pick: Southern. Gotta be Southern, right? I mean, all that confidence they gained from a 104-point win has to be worth something.
Texas Southern 4131 Jackson St. 3095 Southern 2328 Alabama A&M 217 Alabama St. 122 Prairie View A&M 56 Arkansas Pine Bluff 25 Mississippi Valley St. 23 Alcorn St. 3