Predicting how each Conference Race will finish out
There are now less than six weeks until the end of the regular season and what I thought I would do is sit down and make predictions of how some of the conference races are going to finish out. I am going to make a prediction for who I think wins
ACC: Virginia and Duke
The ACC has two teams in Virginia and Duke that are a step ahead of every other team in the ACC in my opinion. Both are tied with North Carolina for the ACC lead right now at 8-1. Virginia will play Duke at home and at North Carolina in their next two games, I think they likely split those two games and they win the rest of them. Duke plays at Virginia on Saturday, then they still have two games against North Carolina, I think they probably go 2-1 in those games. The most likely outcome is that Virginia wins on Saturday, they then drop a game at North Carolina and win the rest of their regular season games to finish 16-2. Duke I think drops the game at Virginia but they then outclass the rest of the ACC, which leads the Blue Devils to a 16-2 ACC record and a share of the ACC title.
Big 12: Iowa State and Kansas State
The Big 12 has run through Kansas until this year, when the Jayhawks have been especially bad on the road, as they are only 1-5 in road games and they are two game back in the league standings. Kansas State is currently the league leader, at 7-2 with Baylor a half game back at 6-2. Both Kansas State and Baylor have brutal schedules coming up, so both will probably fall off a little bit, although I think Kansas State does have the experience to hold off from falling too much. Iowa State is the best team in the Big 12 in my opinion and they are only a game back, so they will probably be right there with a chance to win the Big 12 title. I think Iowa State winds up just losing once coming in, that being at Kansas State. Kansas State drops games at Texas and at Kansas to also go 14-4. Baylor I think falls off and winds up going around 11-7 in Big 12 play. As for the team that has won the league title for 14 straight seasons, well I think they start to go on a run, winning 7 of their last 8 games but I think that ends up only getting them to 13-5 and in third place, one game behind Iowa State and Kansas State.
Big Ten: Purdue and Michigan
The Big Ten is maybe the most competitive league in the sport, which makes the Big Ten wacky at times, including last night when Michigan State lost at Illinois. That being said I do think the best team in the league is Michigan. Now Michigan might be the best team in the league but Purdue does have the schedule needed to go on a late season run, as they only play one more team currently ranked in the Top-25, that being a February 12th matchup at Maryland. Michigan still has to play Michigan State twice, Wisconsin at home and at Maryland, which is a total of four games against Top-25 teams. It would be hard to seeing them going without a loss or two in that span of games. In the end I think I would take Michigan to win the Big Ten Tournament title and they are the only Big Ten team I think can still win a National Championship but with an easy schedule, Purdue seems like they will get at least a share of the Big Ten regular season title.
Big East: Villanova
I thought Marquette was the best team in the Big East coming into conference play but Villanova has done nothing but win and they now have a two-game Big East lead in the loss column. The Wildcats have Championship experience with Phil Booth and Eric Paschall, both of whom have been fantastic in conference play. They do still play Marquette twice and they could sweep them but odds are Villanova gets one of those games and they will likely go throughout the rest of Big East play with one loss or less, winning them the Big East title.
SEC: Tennessee and Kentucky
Tennessee is ranked number one in the country, they have maybe the two best players in the league in Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams and they have a one game lead in the SEC standings, most would think it is a wrap but the problem is they do have a really tough schedule upcoming. The Volunteers have to play Kentucky twice, while playing road games at LSU, Ole Miss, and Auburn, so while they have no losses in SEC play right now, I think they end up with two. Kentucky is rolling right now and has already played some of their toughest games in SEC play already. I think what ends up happening is Kentucky and Tennessee split, while the Volunteers drop some other SEC game to help lead to a shared league title.
This league race is over as the Huskies have a three game lead with nine games remaining and they look like the only team actually good in this league. Matisse Thybulle is the leagues best defender, Jaylen Nowell might be the leagues best scorer, and Noah Dickerson and David Crisp are good as well. The Huskies still have to play at the two Arizona schools, in which case I think they probably split those two games. They then will play no teams that would qualify as a quadrant one opponent following those two games. Unless they go on a slump that no one would see coming, the Huskies will win the PAC-12 title.
AAC: Houston and Cincinnati
The AAC has four quality teams and two teams that are right now the heavy favorites to win the league title. The first is Houston who has started 21-1 and 8-1 in AAC play, the Cougars have the depth needed to win the league title. Cincinnati may have less depth but they do have who I think is the best player in the league in Jarron Cumberland and they have gotten some of their toughest opponents out of the way. Both these two will play each other and I think they probably split those two games, while both teams win out in AAC play to share the conference title at 16-2.
Atlantic 10: Davidson
Davidson has a one-game lead in the league race and they don’t have to play VCU, Dayton or St. Louis on the road coming in, that is a recipe to win the league title.
Gonzaga wins this league about every year, this year shouldn’t be much different as they have just demolished everyone in league play so far.
Mountain West: Nevada
Nevada pretty clearly has the best team in the league, it would be crazy to think anyone else would win the league title.
Bowling Green may have a lead in the standings right now but the team with the most experience is Buffalo and by the way, Bowling Green still has a tough schedule that includes a game at Buffalo. I think in the end the Bulls win the league title once again.
Southern Conference: Wofford
The Terriers are 11-0 in SoCon play, this league race likely runs through Wofford, who also has a legitimate shot at an at-large bid.
Ohio Valley: Belmont
The Bruins have a really good roster but more importantly they don’t play Jacksonville State, Murray State or Austin Peay again this year.
Missouri Valley: Loyola-Chicago
The Ramblers have the experience factor that I think winds up pushing them over the top in the Missouri Valley.
Conference USA: Old Dominion
Who knows how this league shapes up and it could get interesting with the last four games but I will go with the team that is in first winning the league title.
Atlantic Sun: Lipscomb
Lipscomb already got their toughest test out of the way in playing at Liberty, they should roll through the rest of the league and win the league title.
Horizon League: Northern Kentucky and Wright State
Northern Kentucky has a one game lead right now but Wright State still has a home game, I think in the end Wright State wins that to make it a tie in the league standings.
Hofstra has a two-game lead, the best roster and the best player in the league. I think they win the league title pretty easily.
IVY League: Princeton and Harvard
Princeton has a one-game lead in the league race, Harvard is just getting healthy. This league would probably go to the end and I think Princeton and Harvard end up sharing.
Summit League: South Dakota State
The Jackrabbits have the most talented team and a one game lead in the conference race, I think the league race should once again be won by South Dakota State.
Big South: Radford and Campbell
Radford is the Defending league Champions, Campbell has the best player in the league. One of these teams will win and with a likely matchup on March 2nd to decide the title, I think Campbell wins to grab a share of the title.
American East: Vermont
While UMBC gets the headlines around the league, Vermont has the most talented team and they should win the league race.
Sun Belt: Georgia State
The Panthers have a one-game lead in the conference race, the best player in the league. The league race is competitive but Georgia State should win.
Rider is pretty clearly the best team in this league, I’m not saying they are a great team but this year they are pretty clearly the team to beat in the MAAC.
Patriot League: Bucknell
The Bison have a one-game lead in the loss column and they will play their closest competitor Lehigh once but at home, I think that recipe will lead to a league title.
Big West: UC Irvine
This league is always up in the air but with no road games at Cal State Fullerton or UC Santa Barbara left, the league title should roll through UC Irvine.
WAC: New Mexico State
Grand Canyon is tied right now with the Aggies but when it comes to this league race, it goes through New Mexico State.
Southland: Sam Houston State
They haven’t lost in Southland play, that usually is a good sign for their regular season title chances.
Big Sky: Montana
The Grizzlies have the best roster and a one game lead in the loss column, I think they won’t run away with this but I think it would be crazy to have anyone else winning this league.
Northeast: St. Francis (PA) and Robert Morris
Robert Morris has a one game lead right now but I think St. Francis (PA) has the talent to overcome that and at least share the league title.
SWAC: Prairie View A&M
Three game lead with nine games remaining, crazier things have happened but I think they win this one running away.
MEAC: Norfolk State
They have a two-game lead in the conference and they rate as the best team in the MEAC, they probably win the regular season crown.