The regular season is nearly over. Five teams have already played their last home game. Some teams are hoping for an improbable run in their conference tournament, but more realistically looking ahead to next season. Yet even with just a few games left, there are a lot of teams still mathematically in the running for their conference’s regular-season title.
What I did here was simulate the rest of the season 10,000 times assuming every game was a coin flip. I expect this method still misses a team here or there but it’s going to catch most of the outlandish scenarios. I also computed the chance of a tie at the top of standings using the actual ratings.
Pac-12 (10 teams alive): Arizona, Oregon, Utah, USC, California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon State, UCLA, Stanford. (Chance of first place tie = 37%) Only Arizona State and Washington State have been officially eliminated making the Pac-12 the most wide open conference at this moment.
SEC (10): Kentucky, LSU, Florida, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi. (Chance of first-place tie = 30%) Apparently, there’s a scenario where Arkansas is in play, too.
ACC (9): Miami FL, North Carolina, Virginia, Louisville, Duke, Notre Dame, Clemson, Syracuse, Pittsburgh. (Chance of first-place tie = 44%) The ACC is the least-likely conference to produce an outright champ. Six teams have either three or four conference losses.
NEC (8): Fairleigh Dickinson, Mount St. Mary’s, St. Francis PA, Wagner, Sacred Heart, St. Francis NY, LIU Brooklyn, Robert Morris. (Chance of first-place tie = 44%) Eight teams are still in the mix with just four games left on the schedule for each team. There are four co-leaders right now at 9-5 and two teams a game behind.
Big Ten (8): Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Wisconsin, Michigan, Purdue, Ohio State, Michigan State. (Chance of first-place tie = 37%) Any of the eight teams with five or fewer leagues losses is still alive. Even the chances for Ohio State or Michigan to share the title are not completely ridiculous.
MAC (8): Akron, Kent State, Ohio, Ball State, Buffalo, Northern Illinois, Central Michigan, Toledo. (Chance of first-place tie = 5%) Lots of teams in the mix here, but the reality is Akron is two games ahead of the pack, objectively the best team in the lead by a decent margin, and has a friendly schedule down the stretch.
Big 12 (7): Kansas, West Virginia, Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas, Iowa State, Texas Tech. (Chance of first-place tie = 30%) The Jayhawks are in the driver’s seat for another title, but West Virginia will be favored in each of its last five games and has a realistic chance of tying Kansas at the top of the standings.
Big Sky (7): Montana, Weber State, Eastern Washington, Idaho State, Idaho, Montana State, North Dakota. (Chance of first-place tie = 26%) With the conference tournament moving to a neutral site, the main incentive to winning the conference title is to get a potential NIT bid. It’s most likely going to be either Montana or Weber State who gets that honor.
Big South (7): UNC Asheville, Winthrop, Coastal Carolina, Liberty, High Point, Liberty, Gardner-Webb, Radford. (Chance of first-place tie = 35%) Has any team won its conference with a losing overall record? Liberty is 12-15 and one game out of first with four to play. Although with five teams within one game of the lead, they Flames will probably have to win out to have a chance.
Conference USA (7): UAB, Middle Tennessee, Marshall, Louisiana Tech, Old Dominion, UTEP, Charlotte. (Chance of first-place tie = 28%). Conference USA has had a four-way tie and a five-way tie for first in its history. Neither of those will happen this season.
American (7): Temple, SMU, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, Tulsa, Memphis. (Chance of first-place tie = 41%) SMU and Temple both have three losses, but SMU plays at UConn tonight where they are a slight underdog. The Mustangs are still the conference favorite at this point, but it’s by the slimmest of margins. And with six teams within two games of the lead, an outright title is not all that likely.
MEAC (6): Hampton, Norfolk State, South Carolina State, Bethune-Cookman, Howard, Savannah State. (Chance of first-place tie = 29%) At 5-6, Howard is four-and-a-half games out with five to play, but somehow there’s still a way for the Bison.
CAA (6): UNC Wilmington, Hofstra, Towson, William & Mary, James Madison, Charleston. (Chance of first-place tie = 16%) The CAA has had an amazing season completely under the national radar. It’s rated the ninth-best conference and yet has zero chance of getting an at-large bid. UNC Wilmington has won ten in a row and is a heavy favorite to win the league. They’ve lost five games, but only one was by more than five points. However, an extremely weak non-conference schedule will send them to the NIT if they don’t win the conference tournament.
Atlantic Sun (6): North Florida, Jacksonville, NJIT, Florida Gulf Coast, Lipscomb, Kennesaw State. (Chance of first-place tie = 35%) The A-Sun has a bizarre situation in that there’s actually a better chance of a three-way tie (16%) than a two-way tie (14%). And there’s a sizeable 4% chance of a four-way tie. Five of its eight teams are within a game of the lead with just three games left.
Atlantic 10 (6): Dayton, VCU, Saint Joseph’s, St. Bonaventure, George Washington, Davidson. (Chance of first-place tie = 39%) Dayton, VCU, and Saint Joseph’s are all 11-2 and basically co-favorites to finish on top.
OVC (6): Belmont, Tennessee Tech, Tennessee State, Morehead State, Murray State, Tennessee-Martin. (Chance of first-place tie = 38%) For conferences that still use divisions so nobody’s feelings get hurt, I am pretending like the divisions don’t exist.
Sun Belt (6): Arkansas Little Rock, Louisiana Lafayette, Louisiana Monroe, UT Arlington, Georgia Southern, Arkansas State. (Chance of first-place tie = 5%) Little Rock, at 22-3, 12-2, is safe bet to win the league. I don’t know if they’d get an at-large bid, but I’m their four true road wins over top 100 teams will be better than a few teams that do get in.
Southland (6): Stephen F. Austin, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Sam Houston State, Houston Baptist, Incarnate Word, Abilene Christian. (Chance of first-place tie = 2%) Stephen F. Austin is on its way to its fourth-consecutive outright title which would be the longest active streak in the land.
Big West (5): Hawaii, UC Irvine, Long Beach State, UC Santa Barbara, UC Davis. (Chance of first-place tie = 25%) It is the third week of February and Hawaii has played just five games away from home all season. The Warriors are the favorite to win the league, but the schedule has skewed their perceived dominance a bit.
Mountain West (5): San Diego State, New Mexico, Nevada, Fresno State, Boise State. (Chance of first-place tie = 3%) The Aztecs are an overwhelming favorite, but New Mexico’s incredible comeback to win
at over Boise State last night didn’t help San Diego State’s chances. The Lobos are three back with five to play and get the Aztecs at home in the second-to-last game of the season.
Patriot (5): Bucknell, Boston University, Lehigh, Navy, Colgate. (Chance of first-place tie = 30%) Bucknell won just two games outside the conference against D-I teams, but they are in great shape to win the league.
Southern (5): Chattanooga, Furman, East Tennessee State, Wofford, Mercer. (Chance of first-place tie = 1%) Chattanooga has virtually clinched a share of the title. They are up two games with four left and play the bottom three teams in the standing in each of those. They just need to win two of them (and maybe just one) to earn a share.
Summit (5): IPFW, South Dakota State, Nebraska Omaha, IUPUI, North Dakota State. (Chance of first-place tie = 25%) South Dakota State and IPFW are tied at the top and play in Fort Wayne tonight.
Ivy (5): Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Penn, Dartmouth. (Chance of first-place tie = 25%) Realistically, it’s a three-team race between Yale, Princeton, and Columbia. But Dartmouth is not eliminated just yet, despite being tied for last at 2-6, and six games behind Yale with six games left.
Horizon (4): Valparaiso, Oakland, Wright State, Green Bay. (Chance of first-place tie = 7%) Not surprisingly, the computer really likes Valpo to win the title. But Oakland is two games back and plays there tomorrow. With an upset the Grizzlies would have a decent shot at a shared title.
SWAC (4): Texas Southern, Alcorn State, Southern, Jackson State. (Chance of a first-place tie = 16%) We all have our favorite SWAC fact but this is mine: The conference has gone 19 consecutive seasons without a shared title. You have to go back to 1996, when Mississippi Valley State and Jackson State both went 11-3. That’s the longest streak in the land and it should get to 20 but there’s still some suspense left. Texas Southern has a two-game lead on two teams with six to play.
WCC (4): Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s, BYU, Pepperdine (Chance of first-place tie = 20%) Gonzaga is one game ahead of Saint Mary’s and two ahead of BYU, and still looking great win at least a share of the title. But the Zags have to play both the Gaels and Cougars in their final four games, and that means the path to a solo title is pretty difficult.
Big East (4): Villanova, Xavier, Seton Hall, Creighton. (Chance of first-place tie = 5%) Xavier is within two games of Villanova and has a home game against the Wildcats remaining on the schedule. So no, this is not over yet.
WAC (4): New Mexico State, Cal State Bakersfield, Grand Canyon, Seattle. (Chance of first-place tie = 27%) The Aggies have a one game lead over Bakersfield and Grand Canyon with four games in search of their second consecutive outright title.
Missouri Valley (4): Wichita State, Illinois State, Southern Illinois, Evansville. (Chance of first-place tie = 1%) The Shockers and Redbirds conclude the regular season with a game in Wichita. There’s a very slim chance a shared title could be on the line then.
MAAC (4): Monmouth, Iona, Siena, Saint Peter’s. (Chance of first-place tie = 2%) Monmouth has nearly clinched a share of the title, but there’s a not-crazy scenario where Iona ties them. But that would involve Iona pulling off an upset at Monmouth tomorrow night.
America East (2): Stony Brook*, Albany. (Chance of first-place tie = 1%) At this moment, Stony Brook is the only team in the land that we know with complete certainty will win at least a share of its conference title. The Seawolves have a two game lead on Albany with two games left.