This is the third installment of the monte-carlo style conference previews where I simulate each conference’s schedule 10,000 times. If you’re unclear as to what’s happening, check out Monday’s post, then look back with fondness on yesterday’s effort. Today, we get into the territory where this analysis predicts that the favorite in each conference is barely better than a coin flip to win.
20. ACC (Predicted champ: North Carolina, 59%)
It’s no surprise that the Tar Heels are the favorite to win the ACC, but it’s a bit surprising that they are just the 13th-strongest favorite in the land. And there’s a 15% chance that the champ is not UNC or Duke. I guess that’s a lot.
North Carolina 5941 Duke 2691 Virginia 682 Florida St. 258 Virginia Tech 248 N.C. State 72 Georgia Tech 51 Miami FL 50 Clemson 7
19. CAA (VCU, 58%)
After struggling through the first two weeks of the season, the Rams are backing up their Final Four appearance quite well. The story of this list though is Georgia State, picked to finish next-to-last by the CAA media. (I, however, had them as only the fourth-worst team in the conference, thank you very much.) Take a bow, Ron Hunter. (And me!)
VCU 5812 Georgia St. 1656 George Mason 1005 Drexel 751 Old Dominion 435 James Madison 265 Delaware 66 Hofstra 4 NC Wilmington 3 Northeastern 3
18. Sun Belt (Middle Tennessee, 55%)
The Blue Radiers have away-from-home wins against UCLA and Ole Miss, and while neither win is terribly impressive in itself, both were by fairly convincing margins. Middle Tennessee is legit, but Joe Scott, whose teams have finished last or second-to-last in adjusted tempo every season since 2003, has resurrected his career in the land of Tebow. The Pioneers are a legit threat to win the Sun Belt this season.
Middle Tennessee 5545 Denver 3879 Florida Atlantic 422 La. Lafayette 67 Arkansas St. 38 South Alabama 37 North Texas 7 Troy 4 Western Kentucky 2 Ark. Little Rock 1
17. Mountain West (UNLV, 55%)
UNLV has gotten the bulk of the MW publicity, and rightfully so, but New Mexico has been quietly lurking, completely unknown on the national scene for some reason. One of the more unusual statistical flukes in the tempo-free era was Steve Alford leading Iowa to the adjusted defensive efficiency title in 2006. His teams haven’t finished better than 25th in any other season since 2003. But this year the Lobos are currently 10th.
UNLV 5529 New Mexico 3208 San Diego St. 990 Wyoming 173 Colorado St. 50 Boise St. 48 Air Force 2
16. Great West (Utah Valley, 55%)
The Great West is down to six teams, and when there are only ten games on the conference schedule, just about anything can happen. Unless you’re Chicago State. Fun fact: Utah Valley is the only program in the nation that doggedly refuses to reveal its players’ weights. What are you scared of, Wolverines?
Utah Valley 5488 North Dakota 2781 Texas Pan American 765 Houston Baptist 697 NJIT 265 Chicago St. 4
15. MAC (Ohio, 54%)
Move over Javon McCrea and Zeke Marshall, Ohio is good. However, there’s a strong enough mid-section to the MAC that the Bobcats are going to have to work to finish with the best conference record in the league.
Ohio 5361 Kent St. 1348 Buffalo 1296 Ball St. 795 Akron 653 Western Michigan 487 Bowling Green 28 Central Michigan 25 Miami OH 6 Toledo 0
14. Pac-12 (Cal, 53%)
Yes, the Pac-12 stinks by power conference standards, but don’t hold that against Cal or Stanford who are good enough to be at-large selections and have met or exceeded pre-season expectations.
California 5293 Stanford 2371 Arizona 1329 Oregon St. 372 Washington 368 Washington St. 195 UCLA 56 Oregon 12 USC 3 Arizona St. 1