With the calendar turning over, it’s time to forecast the regular season champs for each of the 32 conferences. As a reminder, here are the assumptions…

Using the offensive and defensive ratings through 12/31, 10,000 simulations of the rest of the season were run. I dumbed down the pythagorean exponent a bit for this exercise since there’s slightly more uncertainty in predicting things in the more distant future than with tomorrow’s games.

Listed next to each team is the number of times it won the conference in the 10,000 simulations. Divide by 100 to get the chance in percent of a team winning the regular season race. If a team is not listed, they didn’t win or tie a single simulation. Better luck next season.

I’m not exactly predicting conference champs here, but the team that would get the one-seed in their conference tournament. Thus, in the case where multiple teams tie with conference’s best record, fractional credit is given to the tied teams. This fraction is rounded in the final total. I don’t spend any time applying conference tiebreakers.

Teams listed with a * were involved in a single multi-team tie.

In conferences with divisions (which I hate), I am forecasting the team that has the best conference record.

What follows is the breakdown for each conference in ascending order of suspense. Expert commentary injected where appropriate.

Sun Belt
Middle Tennessee  9487
Western Kentucky   411
Arkansas St.        50
South Alabama       36
Louisiana Lafayette  7
North Texas          6
Fla. International   2
Ark.-Little Rock     *

Many conferences have started conference play. Middle Tennessee has played 3 of its 20 conference games. Western Kentucky is 4-0, but the Blue Raiders are so far ahead of them in the ratings, they are the closest to being a sure thing when it comes to winning a conference title. North Texas, at 0-3 already, has been a big disappointment. Thought to be competitive with Middle Tennessee before the season started, they’re now a tremendous longshot.

Duke              8797
Virginia           476
North Carolina St. 235
Miami FL           226
North Carolina     143
Maryland            59
Georgia Tech        43
Florida St.         14
Clemson              8

This exercise gives you some insight into schedule difficulty in conferences that no longer play double round-robins (which is almost all of them). I don’t doubt I have UVa overrated, but they only have to play Duke, N.C. State, and Miami once each while UNC’s single-game opponents are the four-lowest rated teams in the conference: Clemson, Va. Tech, Boston College, and Wake Forest. That kind of stuff matters.

Big 12
Kansas            8079
Oklahoma St.      1187
Baylor             308
Iowa St.           177
Kansas St.         119
Oklahoma            67
Texas               63
West Virginia        1

Gonzaga           8058
St. Mary's        1102
Brigham Young      577
Santa Clara        243
San Francisco       13
Loyola Marymount     4
San Diego            2

Summit League
North Dakota St.  7737
Western Illinois  1429
South Dakota St.   558
Oakland            270
South Dakota         4
IPFW                 2
IUPUI                *

Big Sky
Weber St.         7481
Montana           2380
Northern Colorado   51
Sacramento St.      48
Portland St.        31
Eastern Washington   4
Montana St.          1
Northern Arizona     1 
North Dakota         *
Southern Utah        *

Montana has played most of the season thus far without its stud point guard Will Cherry, so their chances might be underestimated.

Ohio Valley
Belmont           7286
Murray St.        2586
Jacksonville St.    48
Eastern Kentucky    40
SE Missouri St.     31
Tennessee St.        6
Morehead St.         3
SIU Edwardsville     1
Tennessee Tech       *

The OVC is the closest thing in the nation to a two-team race. However, Belmont and Murray State are in different divisions so it’s not really a race at all. (I hate divisions in part because it deprives us of such drama.)

Florida           7223
Kentucky          1955
Mississippi        410
Missouri           353
Tennessee           26
Alabama             23
Arkansas             7
Louisiana St.        1
Texas A&M            1
Georgia              *

In addition to Ole Miss being a bit better than most thought, they only get Florida and Kentucky once each so they may well be a factor in the SEC race.

Arizona           7045
Oregon             921
UCLA               765
Colorado           699
Stanford           320
California         199
Washington St.      38
Washington           7
Oregon St.           5
Arizona St.          2
USC                  1

Likewise, Oregon only plays UCLA and Arizona once each and therefore has a slightly better shot at a Pac-12 title than you might think.

Patriot League
Bucknell          6677
Lehigh            3149
Holy Cross          94
Army                73
Navy                 4
American             3
Colgate              *

Atlantic 10
VCU               6364
St. Louis         1263
Butler             775
Saint Joseph's     565
La Salle           381
Temple             267
Dayton             171
Xavier              94
Richmond            43
St. Bonaventure     33
Charlotte           15
Massachusetts       15
George Washington   13

St. Louis was the computers’ preseason favorite while Saint Joe’s was the media pick. VCU is the best team in the conference now, and they get some help because SLU and Butler have to play each other twice in what is otherwise a single round-robin schedule.

Stephen F. Austin 6268
Oral Roberts      2593
Northwestern St.   952
McNeese St.        103
Sam Houston St.     60
Central Arkansas    21
Nicholls St.         2

Missouri Valley
Creighton         6179
Wichita St.       3247
Illinois St.       453
Indiana St.         55
Northern Iowa       29
Bradley             28
Evansville           7
Drake                2

Davidson          6038
Charleston        2650
Elon               687
Wofford            414
Western Carolina   189
NC Greensboro       18
Chattanooga          2
Appalachian St.      1
Samford              1

Akron             5988
Ohio              3148
Kent St.           296
Western Michigan   217
Toledo             180
Buffalo            115
Bowling Green       28
Central Michigan    17
Ball St.             5
Miami OH             4
Eastern Michigan     2

Akron seven-footer Zeke Marshall has been pretty absurd so far in his senior season. 66% on twos and he’s fifth in the nation in drawing fouls where he’s made an outstanding (for a big) 73% of his tries. Not to mention fifth in block rate to go with career-best rebound numbers at both ends.

Big East
Louisville        5785
Syracuse          2021
Pittsburgh        1124
Cincinnati         923
Notre Dame         101
Georgetown          25
Connecticut         11
Marquette            5
Providence           4
Rutgers              2
Seton Hall           *

Big Ten
Indiana           5489
Ohio St.          1630
Minnesota         1275
Michigan          1065
Wisconsin          434
Michigan St.        82
Iowa                14
Illinois            10
Purdue               *

Southern          5389
Texas Southern    4105
Jackson St.        207
Prairie View A&M   158
Alcorn St.         100
Alabama A&M         18
Miss. Valley St.    14
Alabama St.          7
Arkansas-Pine Bluff  2

Robert Morris     5322
Wagner            2199
Quinnipiac         762
Long Island        728
Central Conn.      426
St. Francis NY     299
Bryant             234
Mount St. Mary's    22
Sacred Heart         6
Monmouth             2
Fairleigh Dickinson  *

George Mason      5082
Delaware          1521
Drexel            1431
William & Mary    1017
James Madison      415
Northeastern       380
Georgia St.         89
Old Dominion        45
Towson              11
UNC Wilmington       9

William & Mary qualifies as a surprise. The Tribe have been to the postseason twice (both times, the NIT) and here they have a one-in-ten shot of a regular season title.

Conference USA
Memphis           4925
Southern Miss     2751
Tulane            1185
Central Florida    515
UTEP               249
East Carolina      148
UAB                 88
Tulsa               61
Southern Methodist  32
Marshall            24
Houston             21

Southern Miss was picked fifth in the only pre-season conference poll available but on this day are the most likely team to prevent Memphis from repeating. Marshall, consensus second or third-best team before the season started, is nowhere to be found.

Denver            4892
Louisiana Tech    2813
Utah St.          1440
Texas Arlington    320
New Mexico St.     213
Idaho              190
San Jose St.       132
Seattle              1

Harvard           4758
Princeton         4056
Columbia          1125
Cornell             20
Yale                20
Pennsylvania        16
Brown                5
Dartmouth            1

N.C. Central      4589
Norfolk St.       2216
Morgan St.        1141
Savannah St.       926
Hampton            383
N.C. A&T           244
Delaware St.       171
Coppin St.         163
Bethune Cookman    138
Howard              16
Florida A&M         12

Atlantic Sun
Fla. Gulf Coast   4499
Mercer            2486
USC Upstate       1611
North Florida     1292
Lipscomb            54
Stetson             29
Northern Kentucky   26
Jacksonville         2
East Tennessee St.   1

America East
Stony Brook       4443
Boston U.         4141
Albany             639
Vermont            564
Hartford           165
New Hampshire       38
Maine                8
UMBC                 *

Great West
NJIT              4440
Utah Valley       2933
UTPA              1252
Chicago St.        982
Houston Baptist    393

Canisius          3932
Iona              3707
Fairfield         1351
Loyola MD          498
Niagara            445
Rider               46
St. Peter's         15
Manhattan            4
Marist               1

Canisius is the legit Surprise of the Year thus far. I had ‘em last in the MAAC in the preseason and the official conference preseason poll had them eighth (out of ten). But here they are, favorites to win the conference now.

Big South
NC Asheville      3830
Char. Southern    2471
Gardner Webb      2309
Coastal Carolina   486
Winthrop           274
Radford            265
VMI                132
High Point         129
Campbell            91
Liberty             13

Horizon League
Valparaiso        3773
Detroit           2679
Youngstown St.    1128
Illinois Chicago   758
Wright St.         637
Green Bay          509
Loyola Chicago     400
Cleveland St.      116

Big West
UC Irvine         3675
Cal St. Fullerton 1952
Long Beach St.    1126
Pacific            848
Cal St. Northridge 689
UC Santa Barbara   654
Cal Poly           506
Hawaii             369
UC Davis           181

The Big West has the most parity from top to (almost) bottom. Before conference season started, every team but UC Riverside was projected for between 7 and 11 wins.

Mountain West
San Diego St.     2701
UNLV              2692
Colorado St.      1847
Wyoming           1617
New Mexico         853
Boise St.          279
Air Force            9
Fresno St.           1
Nevada               1

The winner for least-predictable champ is the Mountain West. UNLV is actually rated slightly higher than the Aztecs, and the order here is just a quirk in this particular set of simulations. New Mexico drops to fifth after the stealthy New Year’s Eve loss at Saint Louis.