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In the final installment of my conference tournament predictions, we look at the remaining 6 conferences. They range from the Big Ten–one of the best conferences of recent memory–to the Great West, at 5-team conference which doesn’t even receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
In the ACC, it’s Duke out in front…again. NC State was a disappointment, while Miami was a surprise regular season champion. However, with Ryan Kelly back, the Hurricanes are back to doing what the rest of the ACC is used to doing: trying to catch Duke.
|5||North Carolina State||83.5||45.2||22.5||7.9|
The Big Ten was an absolute gauntlet this season. My predictive rankings have 6 teams from the Big Ten in the top 12. That’s right, half of my top 12 are from one conference. Throw in Iowa (27) and Illinois (32) and two-thirds of the conference are 2nd-round-caliber teams. Indiana is the class of this conference, which speaks to just how good the Hoosiers are this year. Unfortunately for them and Michigan and Wisconsin, the three best teams in the conference reside in the same half of the bracket. That gives 2-seed Ohio State a (relatively) easier path to the final and the most likely team to win the tournament should Indiana falter. Whatever happens, it should be an entertaining weekend.
The Atlantic-10 looks like a two-team tournament, with Saint Louis and VCU on a collision path toward the final. Three teams are lurking–Temple, Butler, and La Salle–hoping to crash the party. Those 5 teams may all find themselves in the big dance should things fall into place this week.
Perhaps the most balanced conference tournament of all this year is the Big West. The favorite, Pacific, isn’t even a 1-in-4 chance to win it all, while UCSB is the biggest longshot but still has a 4% chance to pull it off.
|1||Long Beach State||58.0||36.3||17.8|
|8||Cal State Fullerton||42.0||14.8||6.3|
I’m not even going to say anything about the Great West, but here are the predictions.
It feels like every year, but once again Montana and Weber State are the overwhelming favorite to meet for the Big Sky championship. My predictive rankings actually rank Weber State as a better team than Montana (#126 versus #188), but the conference gives the #1 seed every advantage possible. The whole tournament is on Montana’s home floor, only the top 7 teams qualify meaning the #1 seed receives a bye to the semifinals and only has to win two games, and the semifinals are re-seeded so should an upset occur in the first round Montana will be the beneficiary. All of that puts the Grizzlies right at 50/50 with Weber State close by at 41%.
That does it for this year’s conference tournament predictions. I’ll report back after the conclusion of all the tournaments with how my predictions fared against KenPom and TeamRankings (and maybe I’ll report some intermediate results some time this week).