Monday, February 27

Let's Make Some College Bball Predictions

If you've even sniffed this blog, you know March Madness is my favorite time of year. And with the Big South conference tournament starting tonight, here are my predictions for all of the conference tourney winners. While most of the big conference teams should still get in, for the small schools, it's win or go home. So they better win!

You'll recall I did this last year, with limited success. Only 10 out of 32. So there's really nowhere to go but up. My comments are in parentheses. Let's do it!

America East- Vermont (currently tied for second, but they're the most experienced team here)
ACC- UNC (As much as I'd like to say my alma mater Miami will take it...let's be real here. The only team standing in UNC's way, as usual, is Duke).
Atlantic Sun- Belmont (There hasn't been any drama in the A-Sun for awhile. Belmont continues to roll).
Atlantic Ten- Temple (This bad boy is usually Xavier or Temple, of these teams showed up to play this year. Look for the Owls to get 'er done. Potential dark horse in St. Joseph's.)
Big East- Marquette (This one is usually a sleeper team making a run, a la UConn last year. Syracuse is far and away the best team in this league, but they tend to screw up when they're a top seed, and Marquette's not a bad second).
Big Sky- Weber St. (The Wildcats are 14-1 in league play, which ties them with Montana. Not coincidentally--or maybe it is, I don't know--they play each other Tuesday to close out the regular season. The Wildcats already won at home, and while I think Montana will win the rematch, I'll still go with Weber St. to win the tournament).
Big South- UNC-Asheville (This tourney is starting tonight, but seeing as how none of the contenders are playing yet, I don't think I'm cheating with this pick. Make it back-to-back conference championships for the Bulldogs).
Big 10- Michigan St. (Could this be the year we see Northwestern make the NCAA tournament for the first time ever? I'd love it, as long as Miami also makes it. But the Wildcats have no shot to win the conference tournament. That's going to either the Spartans or the Buckeyes, and I think Sparty is just a bit better).
Big 12- Kansas (They're better than Mizzou, and Baylor is fading. Simple).
Big West- Long Beach St. (The 49ers haven't lost in conference, and have some good out of conference wins, too. They'll be a tough out in the NCAAs).
Colonial- Drexel (I picked Hofstra last year and they failed me. This year they're 3-15 in conference, so I don't have any false hope with them. The Dragons have super-slim at-large hopes, so they better take care of business in the tournament. But watch out for a ridiculously hot VCU team, surging at just the right time. Hmm...seems familiar...).
Conference USA- Southern Miss (If I keep picking them, it'll come true eventually, right?)
Horizon League- Valparaiso (I wouldn't be entirely shocked to see Butler grab our collective hearts again, but...I think this time they'll fall a bit short).
Ivy League- Harvard (Don't look now, but the once-ranked Crimson are tied in the loss column with Penn. If the two meet in a playoff, Harvard will be tested. But I think they'll pull it off).
MAAC- Manhattan (I literally have no rational reason why the top-seeded Iona Gaels won't take care of business, but hey, March is all about upsets!).
MAC- Akron (A mediocre Zips team shocked the conference last year. This time they're the favorites, and they'll take care of business again).
MEAC- Norfolk St. (Savannah State, who not too long ago lost every game they played during the season, is tops in this league, but look for the #2-seed Spartans to sneak the auto-bid).
Missouri Valley- Wichita St. (The Shockers look reeeeeaallllyyyy good. If they're a 5-seed I can definitely see them knocking off the #1 in their region).
Mountain West- New Mexico (The Lobos are tied with UNLV and San Diego State atop the Mountain West. Might as well go with the one that's not ranked, right?)
Northeast- Long Island (The Blackbirds looked good last year in a very entertaining 2-15 matchup against UNC. Expect more of the same this year).
Ohio Valley- Murray St. (The Racers already slipped up once in conference--don't look for it to happen again. Like Long Island, Long Beach State and Wichita State, they're going to make life very difficult in the NCAAs).
Pac-12- California (This league is absolute garbage. They really only deserve one bid, but they'll probably snatch two or three. Cal--and MAYBE Washington are the only two with an at-large shot, so hopefully one of them wins the tourney). 
Patriot League- American (I'd love to pick Army to end their draught of not making the tourney ever, but it ain't gonna happen. I do know Navy, who has yet to win a Patriot League game, will not win the tournament. Might as well be patriotic, though, and go with the third-seeded Eagles.
SEC- Kentucky (Their only reasonable competition is Vanderbilt or Florida, and both of those teams have looked suspect, at best. The one thing that could do the Wildcats in is that sometimes their players look bored, like "This is TOO easy.")
Southern- Charleston (Dark horse alert! Davidson is by far the favorites, and Wofford has experience on its side, but Charleston has won some big games over the past couple years, so why not a few more?)
Southland- Texas Arlington (They haven't lost a game yet in conference play. No reason to start now).
SWAC- Mississippi Valley State (Ditto as far as losing in conference goes. Pat Forde just wrote a solid article on the Delta Devils coach, Sean Woods, otherwise known as the guy who hit the shot before Christian Laettner hit his game-winner in the 1992 tournament).
Summit- Oral Roberts (One loss in league play. If ORU wins their tournament, some #2 or #3, or possibly #4 seed is going to go into conniptions in the first round playing against the Golden Eagles).
Sun Belt- Middle Tennessee State (The Blue Raiders made headlines early this season by beating UCLA. By a lot. Then we learned UCLA isn't very good, so that accomplishment didn't seem as cool. But 25-5, and 14-2 in conference is nothing to sneeze at. Plus the rest of the Sun Belt is like UCLA--nothing too special).
West Coast- Loyola Marymount (The smart money is on St. Mary's or Gonzaga. The outside shot money is on BYU. The stupid money is on the Lions. I guess I'm stupid. At least I'm not taking 0-16 Santa Clara).
WAC- Nevada (The only other team to even threaten will be New Mexico State, and I don't see that happening. Look for the Wolfpack to make the field for the first time since the Nick Fazekas days).

As always, we'll hold ourselves accountable for these picks come tourney time. Let's do it!

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