This is the final installment of the Monte Carlo style conference previews. The following six conferences are the most up for grabs. I am writing this while listening to a live stream of the South Carolina State/Hawaii game which tipped at approximately 1:45 AM ET, which is to say I was barely conscious and that is reflected in the quality of this post. Games played on Thursday night are not included in the calculations, but I hope you enjoy them anyway. Sometime in February, I’ll do a review of the predictions and perhaps we’ll all share a hearty laugh.
6. NEC (Predicted champ: Robert Morris, 46%)
Oh, admit it, you thought you’d see Wagner as the favorite here. (Or just admit you haven’t given two thoughts about the NEC race.) Wagner is actually rated better than RMU but currently trails the Colonials by a game in the conference race. In addition, the teams only meet once in conference play which works against the Seahawks chance of overtaking Robert Morris.
Robert Morris 4576 Wagner 4392 Long Island 728 C. Connecticut 177 Quinnipiac 86 Sacred Heart 35 St. Francis NY 4 St. Francis PA 1
5. West Coast (BYU, 39%)
This doesn’t include the Gaels’ impressive statement last night in pummeling BYU. Saint Mary’s was expected to win, but the nature of the victory surely levels the odds of the top three teams, who combined have a 99.98% chance of winning the uber top-heavy WCC.
BYU 3931 Gonzaga 3275 St. Mary's 2792 San Francisco 2 Loyola Marymount 0
4. Big Sky (Weber State, 37%)
I’m surprised to see that UNC has a legit chance to take the Big Sky considering they’re one of the youngest teams in the country, and they lost to an NAIA school by 13. They have a slew of competitive losses to quality opponents, though.
Weber St. 3671 Montana 3059 E. Washington 2010 N. Colorado 1119 Portland St. 136 Sacramento St. 4 N. Arizona 0
3. America East (Vermont, 35%)
I’m rooting for Maine, just because I can. But also because they’ve never been to the NCAA tournament. That is true of Northwestern, of course, but you know about them, and they play on TV. Maine is never on national TV and basically nobody outside of Maine cares about them. They have one of the best freshmen in the country in Justin Edwards, and he’s so good he’ll probably transfer soon and eventually play in a Final Four like one-time Maine freshman Rick Carlisle did in the early ‘80s. But maybe Edwards can help the Black Bears end seven decades of frustration this year.
Vermont 3484 Stony Brook 2138 Maine 1663 Albany 1565 Boston U. 776 New Hampshire 374
2. Big 12 (Kansas, 33%)
Much like with the NEC, I don’t think too many people expected Kansas to be the favorite here, what with the loss to Davidson. But the Big 12 is clearly the conference race most up for grabs. Not only do you have the trio of conference power brokers, but Kansas State and Texas have reasonable possibilities here as well.
Kansas 3312 Missouri 3263 Baylor 2086 Texas 723 Kansas St. 567 Oklahoma 31 Oklahoma St. 11 Texas A&M 4 Iowa St. 3
1. WAC (New Mexico St., 32%)
New Mexico State’s humiliation at the hands of New Mexico on Wednesday continued a rough non-conference performance for the WAC. The benefit here is that the conference race is wide open.
New Mexico St. 3195 Utah St. 2881 Nevada 2195 Idaho 1466 Fresno St. 226 Hawaii 33 Louisiana Tech 4 San Jose St. 0