Today, we going to preview the three conference tournaments that start on Wednesday using the models that were used yesterday. Same format as yesterday, so expect a brief analysis of the best teams in each conference and who is likely to be around come the big tournament in March.
There's only one tourney on Friday, so expect the next model (EM) to be published on Thursday as there will only be one set of teams to preview.
Mountain West Conference
Last Year's Champion: Utah State
|#5 Nevada||28-1||1||2662.231 (5)||0.2487 (4)||0.2269 (3)|
|Utah State||23-8||2||2296.607 (20)||0.1286 (45)||0.1087 (47)|
|Nevada||19-11||3||2016.270 (67)||0.0914 (75)||0.0863 (67)|
|New Mexico||18-13||7||2020.695 (66)||0.0985 (68)||0.0839 (71)|
|Boise State||19-11||5||1958.692 (84)||0.0790 (88)||0.0671 (84)|
|Colorado State||20-11||6||1845.015 (100)||0.0840 (82)||0.0712 (83)|
|UNLV||17-14||4||1934.128 (87)||0.0576 (109)||0.0527 (106)|
Until recently, Nevada was undefeated and they are one of the top teams in the country ranked #5 in the AP Top 25 poll and in the Top 5 in all of our models. They will be making the tournament regardless of the result of this tournament, but winning out should give them a number 1 seed classifying them as the top team for the first four rounds of the tournament in March.
Utah State stands from the crowd as the only distinct challenger. They rank in the Top 50 in all of the models, and the EDM ranks them highly at 20. They are currently a bubble team, but should make it into the tournament if they make the final. But of course, they would lock the spot if they win out and secure the auto-bid.
All of the outsider teams are solid Top 100 teams, but need to win this tournament to get a spot later in March. UNLV is notable for being the lone team to conquer San Diego State. All of these teams are capable of making to the final if they don't face San Diego State first. Although the tournament is in a neutral site in Las Vegas, this makes UNLV-San Diego State an intriguing semifinal matchup with UNLV essentially at home.
Last Year's Champion: Fairleigh Dickinson
|St. Francis (PA)||20-9||2||1684.880 (134)||0.0507 (116)||0.0391 (123)|
|Scared Heart||19-12||3||1642.252 (140)||0.0061 (175)||0.0120 (164)|
|Robert Morris||17-14||1||1479.709 (185)||-0.0287 (210)||-0.0244 (207)|
|Bryant||15-16||7||1360.215 (211)||-0.065 (247)||-0.0425 (228)|
|LIU||14-17||4||1246.215 (235)||-0.0627 (244)||-0.0542 (245)|
|Fairleigh Dickinson||11-18||5||1202.512 (246)||-0.1001 (284)||-0.0876 (288)|
|St. Francis (NY)||13-17||8||1051.185 (283)||-0.0876 (275)||-0.0812 (278)|
|Mount St. Mary's||11-20||6||1089.221 (277)||-0.1213 (307)||-0.1065 (306)|
This one-bid conference is wide-open and thus every team eligible for the tournament for the Northeast Conference is listed here. St. Francis (PA) is probably the favorite, but Robert Morris has home court the entire tournament and Sacred Heart is a solid team given the competition and can gain home court in the semifinals if one of the top teams loses early as the tournament reseeds after the quarterfinals.
There's not a lot to say about the rest of the field, other than they were able to win 10 games and Wagner and Central Connecticut did not. Expect any team outside the Top 3 that wins to be rewarded a 16 seed in the tournament.
Ohio Valley Conference
Last Year's Champion: Murray State
|Belmont||24-7||1||2166.066 (39)||0.0847 (80)||0.0787 (74)|
|Murray State||22-8||2||2005.555 (70)||0.0486 (119)||0.0509 (108)|
|Austin Peay||20-11||3||1738.628 (123)||0.0283 (149)||0.0247 (145)|
Belmont won the regular season title and as the 1 seed should have a relative easy path to the final. They already have a double bye to the semifinal of the tournament, so they'll face the winner of the likely Murray State - Austin Peay matchup in the other semifinal. Given that this is a one bid conference this year, all teams will be fighting hard to win.
Murray State were last year champions, but they have the harder path to the final although they also have a double bye, but will probably see a tough Austin Peay team in the semis. Austin Peay is the only outsider pick as they are the only team with all three model ratings in the Top 200 and they only have to play one extra game as they have a single bye. Given the bottom teams have multiple games before they face the top teams that reduces the number of outsider picks as the bottom four teams (Seeds 5-8) need to play three games to get to the finals, versus the one game Murray State or Belmont needs to play.