13) AAC— Cincinnati is 12-0, has a 3-game lead over Wichita State/Houston; I’m thinking all three of these teams make the NCAA’s, but no one else from this league.
12) ACC— Virginia is 12-1, has a 2-game lead over Clemson; surprising. 2014 was last time neither Duke/North Carolina finished 1-2 in the ACC (Virginia/Syracuse). That is the only time since 2002 that has happened.
11) Atlantic 14— Rhode Island Rams are 12-0, have a 4-game lead over both St Bonaventure, Davidson; URI should be in the NCAA’s, but everyone else looks like a longshot to make the Field of 68. Richmond is 7-5 in the A-14, but only 9-15 overall.
10) Big 14— Surprising Ohio State leads Purdue/Michigan State, who were expected to be very good. Michigan should get in with a strong finish; upstarts Nebraska/Penn State are fighting to get off the bubble. OSU coach Holtmann might be national Coach of the Year.
9) Big X— Best league in the country; Texas Tech leads Kansas by a game, West Virginia by 1.5 games. Jayhawks won last 13 regular season titles, so Tech winning the league would be a huge upset. Seven of ten teams in this league are in KenPom’s top 50 in the country.
8) Big East— Xavier/Villanova are in a virtual tie for first place; Musketeers are 8-0 in Big East games decided by 7 or fewer points. Villanova has some injury issues right now, but hope to have everyone back for the postseason.
7) Big Sky— Montana is 13-0, leads Weber State by two games, which doesn’t mean a whole lot, since the conference tournament is on a neutral floor and only the tournament winner will get into the NCAA’s. 9-3 Idaho is 33-15 in conference games the last three seasons.
6) Big West— Cal-Santa Barbara leads Cal-Irvine by half a game; Anteaters were 5-11 when conference play started- they’re #299 experience team in country. UCSB was 6-22 last year; new coach Joe Pasternack has used transfers to get the Gauchos back on track.
5) Colonial— Charleston leads Northeastern by a game; Huskies just won the Beanpot hockey tourney for first time in 30 years- maybe this is their year. This is a one-bid league and their conference tournament will be really wide open.
4) Horizon— 26th-ranked league was 14th three years ago; defections of Loyola, Valparaiso have crippled league. Northern Kentucky leads way this year, with Wright State game behind and UIC game behind them. Another one-bid league.
3) MAAC— Rider/Canisius are tied for the top; Niagara is in 3rd place, Iona in 4th. Conference tournament is in beautiful downtown Albany, but Siena is awful so that shouldn’t matter much. Right now, the 4-5 game would be Iona-Manhattan, which would be very interesting.
2) MAC— Buffalo/Toledo have three less losses than anyone else in MAC and are only teams in league ranked higher than #168. Will be disappointing if they don’t meet in MAC title game.
1) Missouri Valley— Loyola-Chicago has 2-game lead over Southern Illinois, but Ramblers haven’t been in NCAA’s since 1985, so they’ll have lot of pressure on them in Arch Madness.