Sunday, 26 March 2017 09:58

Men's Conference Races - Early Look At NCAA Field

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It's hard to believe but the first conference tournament gets started in three weeks with the bulk then coming the following two weeks after that. There will be 30 conference tournaments this year with each winner earning an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. The only conference that does not have a tournament is the Ivy League which awards its automatic berth to the regular season champion. The only school that won't be able to defend its title will be Coastal Carolina who won the Big South last year but is now in the Sun Belt. There will be 33 at-large bids for the NCAA Tournament with the ranking cutoff expected to be 41 or 42. 
 
Below is a look at the conference races with the contenders listed for all of my projected 1-bid leagues. There are a few leagues that have teams right around the projected cutoff but if that team were to lose again it'd be to an unranked team and that would most likely knock them out. For the Power 5, AAC, CUSA, and Ivy League I'll list who I think is probably in along with teams that will be on the bubble. Teams in the bigger conferences have enough matches left against ranked teams to make a move while teams in the one-bid leagues will not. So for those teams from the mid-major to lower-major conferences that are already ranked below 50 it'll be tough for them to make up the ground needed to get higher than 42.
 
Projected multiple-bid leagues (Tournament Location/Host) - (8)
 
American Athletic Conference (Lake Nona/UCF) - I think at least four teams will get in from the AAC but the reason I don't have anyone down as a lock is because they all have tough schedules remaining so a 4-match losing streak could sink anyone. SMU will control its destiny because it still has four regular season matches left against top 40 teams. UCF's win over Florida State put it in much better shape and if can pick up one or two more quality wins it'll be in plus it's hosting the tournament. Tulsa needs help and will need to schedule some doubleheaders to get its record above .500 to even be considered. 
 
  • Probably In - South Florida, Memphis, Tulane
  • Bubble - SMU, Central Florida (host), Tulsa 

 

Atlantic Coast Conference (Rome, Ga) - Georgia Tech will be the local favorite after the tournament was moved from Cary to Rome but Wake Forest, Virginia, and North Carolina will be the ones with the best chance to win. There are several teams that could potentially play their ways into the NCAA with strong finishes but any more losses would close the door. 
 
  • Locks: Wake Forest, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Florida State
  • Probably In: Louisville
  • Bubble: Notre Dame
  • Need To Kick It In: NC State, Duke, Virginia Tech
 
Big Ten Conference (West Lafayette, IN/Purdue) - The Big Ten could get as few as 5 teams in or they could get as many 7 or 8 depending on how these next four weeks play out. Everyone except Michigan State and Nebraska still has a chance to play its way in though several could play its way out of the tournament with a poor finish - see Wisconsin last year.  
 
  • Locks: Ohio State, Michigan, Northwestern, Illinois
  • Probably In: Wisconsin, Minnesota
  • Bubble: Indiana
  • Need To Kick It In: Purdue, Iowa, Penn State

Big 12 Conference (Norman, OK/Oklahoma) - Everyone will be in except Texas Tech although if they can win two conference matches I think they could slide in like Baylor did last year. 
 
  • Locks: Baylor, Texas, Oklahoma (host), Oklahoma State, TCU
  • Need To Kick It In: Texas Tech

Conference USA (Murfreesboro, TN/Middle Tennessee State) - If the bids were handed out today this would potentially be a two-bid league but after Old Dominion's loss to Florida Atlantic I think the only team that is a safe bet is Rice. Rice will be the favorite to win the conference tournament but there's a cluster of teams that is capable of giving Rice issues on a neutral site. 
 
  • Probably In: Rice
  • Bubble: Old Dominion
  • On The Rise (Need To Win Tournament): Florida Atlantic, Middle Tennessee State (host), Southern Miss

The Ivy League - The only conference without a tournament has two teams firmly in the field with Yale and Penn probably the only two others that could potentially play their way in. 
 
  • Locks: Cornell, Columbia
  • Bubble: Yale, Penn

Pac-12 Conference (Ojai, Ca) - I think right now it's pretty clear-cut on who is going to make it out of the Pac-12. The only team that isn't a lock but is close is Washington with the Huskies needing to beat Utah, Arizona, and maybe at least one more team to lock up a bid. 
 
  • Locks: USC, UCLA, Cal, Stanford, Oregon
  • Probably In: Washington
  • Bubble: None

Southeastern Conference (Knoxville, TN/Tennessee) - This conference has more teams on the bubble than anyone else with Ole Miss in the best shape after pulling off the upset at Mississippi State. I think Arkansas has the second best chance to get off the bubble while Tennessee and Auburn are going to need to upset someone to have a chance. 

  • Locks: Texas A&M, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Kentucky
  • Bubble: Ole Miss, Arkansas, Tennessee, Auburn
  • Need To Kick It In: Vanderbilt, Alabama
 
 
Projected 1-bid leagues (Tournament Location/Host) - (23)
 
Atlantic Sun Conference (Naples/FGCU)
  • Contenders - North Florida, Stetson, Florida Gulf Coast (host)

Atlantic 10 Conference (Lake Nona, FL)
  • Contenders - Davidson, Dayton, George Washington, Richmond, VCU

Big East Conference (Cayce, SC)
  • Contenders: Butler, DePaul, Marquette, St. John's

Big Sky Conference (Phoenix)
  • Contenders: Northern Arizona, Idaho, Eastern Washington, Sacramento State 

Big South Conference (Winston-Salem)
  • Contenders: Presbyterian, Campbell, Gardner-Webb, Longwood, Liberty

Big West Conference (Indian Wells)
  • Contenders: Cal Poly, UC Santa Barbara, UC Davis

Colonial Athletic Association (Elon, NC)
  • Contenders: Elon (host), College of Charleston, William & Mary, UNC Wilmington, James Madison

Horizon League (Ann Arbor)
  • Contenders: Valparaiso (heavy favorite), 

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (West Windsor, NJ)
  • Contenders: Marist, Monmouth, Quinnipiac 
 
Mid-American Conference (Kalamazoo/WMU)
  • Contenders: Western Michigan (host), Buffalo, Northern Illinois, Toledo, Ball State
 
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (Norfolk/Norfolk State)
  • Contenders: South Carolina State (wins it every year), Florida A&M, North Carolina Central
 
Missouri Valley Conference (Normal, IL/Illinois State)
  • Contenders: Wichita State, Drake, Southern Illinois, Illinois State (host)

Mountain West Conference (Boise, ID/Boise State)
  • Contenders: Utah State, UNLV, Fresno State, New Mexico

Northeast Conference (West Windsor, NJ)
  • Contenders: Bryant, St. Francis (PA), Wagner

Ohio Valley Conference (Nashville/Belmont/Tennessee State)
  • Contenders: Tennessee Tech, Eastern Kentucky, Belmont (host), Jacksonville State

Patriot League (Annapolis, MD/Navy)
  • Contenders: Navy (host), Army

Southern Conference (Greenville, SC/Furman)
  • Contenders: East Tennessee State (favorite), Mercer, Furman (host), UNC Greensboro, Wofford

Southland Conference (Beaumont, TX/Lamar)
  • Contenders: Lamar (host), Texas A&M Corpus Christi, New Orleans (Abilene Christian ineligible due to transition from D2 to D1)

Southwestern Athletic Conference (New Orleans)
  • Contenders: Alabama State, Alcorn State, Jackson State

The Summit League (Indianapolis/IUPUI)
  • Denver (favorite), Nebraska-Omaha, Oral Roberts, IUPUI (host)

Sun Belt Conference (New Orleans)
  • Contenders (everyone): South Alabama, Georgia State, UT Arlington, Troy, Coastal Carolina, Louisiana, Appalachian State, Georgia Southern 

West Coast Conference (Claremont, CA)
  • Contenders: Pepperdine, BYU, San Diego, Portland, Santa Clara, Pacific

Western Athletic Conference (Las Cruces, NM/New Mexico State
  • Contenders: New Mexico State (host-favorite), UMKC (Grand Canyon ineligible due to transition from D2 to D1) 

 

If viewing on mobile turn phone sideways to properly see the chart

 

M-Conference Dates Location Host School 2016 Champion
AAC 4/20 - 4/23 Lake Nona, FL Central Florida South Florida
ACC 4/26 - 4/30 Rome, Georgia   Wake Forest
Atlantic Sun 4/21 - 4/23 Naples, FL Florida Gulf Coast North Florida
Atlantic 10 4/27 - 4/30 Lake Nona, FL   George Washington
Big East 4/27 - 4/30 Cayne, SC   St. John's
Big Sky 4/27 - 4/30 Phoenix   Weber State
Big South 4/19 - 4/22 Winston-Salem   Coastal Carolina
Big Ten 4/27 - 4/30 West Lafayette Purdue Ohio State
Big 12 4/27 - 4/30 Norman Oklahoma TCU
Big West 4/27 - 4/30 Indian Wells   UC Santa Barbara
Colonial 4/21 - 4/23 Elon, NC Elon College of Charleston
Conference USA 4/21 - 4/23 Murfreesboro Middle Tenn State Rice
Horizon 4/28 - 4/30 Ann Arbor, MI Detroit Valparaiso
MAAC 4/29 - 4/30 W. Windsor, NJ   Monmouth
Mid-American 4/28 - 4/29 Kalamazoo Western Michigan Western Michigan
MEAC 4/20 - 4/22 Norfolk Norfolk State South Carolina State
Missouri Valley 4/28 - 4/30 Normal, IL Illinois State Wichita State
Mountain West 4/28 - 4/30 Boise, ID Boise State UNLV
Northeast 4/21 - 4/23 W. Windsor, NJ   Bryant
Ohio Valley 4/21 - 4/23 Nashville, TN Belmont/Tenn State Tennessee Tech
Pac-12 4/26 - 4/30 Ojai, CA   UCLA
Patriot 4/20 - 4/23 Annapolis, MD Navy Army
SEC 4/26 - 4/30 Knoxville Tennessee Florida
Southern 4/21 - 4/23 Greenville, SC Furman East Tennessee St
Southland 4/28 - 4/30 Beaumont, TX Lamar Lamar
SWAC 4/14 - 4/16 New Orleans   Jackson State
Summit 4/28 - 4/29 Indianapolis, IN IUPUI Denver
Sun Belt 4/20 - 4/23 New Orleans   UT Arlington
WCC 4/27 - 4/29 Claremont, CA   San Diego
WAC 4/28 - 4/30 Las Cruces, NM New Mexico State New Mexico State

 

 

Read 387 times Last modified on Wednesday, 29 March 2017 22:21

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