First up among this year’s conference tournaments are the Big South and the Horizon as both leagues kicked off with their 1st Round games today.
The Big South is one of the weakest leagues in the country, and my predictive ratings rank just one team in the top 190 teams in the country: Charleston Southern at #164, making them the favorite in the Big South. With host Coastal Carolina and the next-strongest team UNC-Asheville both getting upset tonight, the only other team with a reasonable chance at unseating Charleston Southern is Gardner-Webb, clocking in at a 19% chance at snagging the Big South’s automatic bid (which will definitely increase after tonight’s upsets).
|2N||Virginia Military Institute||62.8||15.3||3.9|
Meanwhile, the Horizon is a pure two-horse race between top seed Valparaiso and #2 seed Detroit, both of which receive the coveted double bye into the semifinals. One of those two teams wins the tournament 95% of the time, with Valpo almost a 2:1 favorite over Detroit to grab the auto bid. Both Valpo and Detroit rank in the top 60 of my predictive rankings (#55 and #57 respectively), but the Horizon tournament format allows for higher seeds to play home games which gives the Crusaders a decided edge.
Next up: the Patriot, Northeast, West Coast, Ohio Valley, and Atlantic Sun tournaments which kick off tomorrow.