Three tournaments begin play Saturday. The America East is a 3-team race led by top seed Stony Brook, who wins nearly half the time. The 2-seed Vermont has the best chance to knock them off, and the host Albany can’t be overlooked with home court advantage throughout.
Before Taylor Braun went out with a foot injury, North Dakota St. was riding high at 15-3 as one of the best non-major conference teams in the country. In the 10 games he missed, they went just 5-5 and dropped to 3rd in the conference. Braun is back and after struggling in his first game back, went for 22 in his 2nd game back. Watch for the Bison in this one as even with those 10 games weighting them down, I still project them to win over half the time. The biggest competition is last year’s conference champion South Dakota St. led by Nate Wolters. Those two teams win over 80% of the time.
|3||North Dakota State||95.5||75.7||51.8|
|1||South Dakota State||92.6||64.5||28.7|
What a difference a year makes. The Colonial was one of the best mid-major conferences, ranking between 11 and 15 every year since 2005 in KenPom’s conference rankings. This year, they’ve dropped to 19th and two of their top 5 teams aren’t even eligible to compete in this year’s tournament. There is no standout team, so Northeastern’s 1st round bye to the semifinals is enough to make them the favorite, despite not even being favored to win their first game! In fact, no team is more likely to make the final than not. This should be a fun one, but there’s no George Mason-type run coming from one of these squads.
|6||William & Mary||40.7||16.7||5.3|
Next up: The MAC and MEAC begin on Monday. By then, we’ll have already punched a few tickets to the Big Dance. Enjoy the weekend slate of games.