As the season winds down, I thought it would a good idea to give a good overview of how each conference is looking. Included in my brief summaries are the teams that I believe are locks, bubble-in, and bubble-out teams from each conference. Take a look and add your thoughts in the comment section below.
Locks: Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Bubble-Out: Virginia Cavaliers
I have all four ACC teams that will make the ACC Tournament in the NCAA Tournament right now. Notre Dame is not going to fall out of the NCAAT, so if they lose it's more about seeding for them than anything. Syracuse has top 20 RPI wins over UNC and Albany to go along with that bad loss to Cornell. If the Orange lose to UNC on Friday then they will be in a wait and see mode. The bad news for SU is that, depending on how the conference tournaments shake out, it may come down to Duke vs. SU for an at-large bid, and I would give Duke the edge if both teams lose its first round ACC matchups. However, beat UNC again and I think we can count the Orange in for sure.
UNC now has a win over Notre Dame to add to its Hopkins and Duke victories. I believe the Tar Heels are in a slightly better position than both Syracuse and Duke at the moment. Beating SU would make UNC a lock, but even if they lose I think they could still survive the bubble.
If the Blue Devils take down Notre Dame in the first round of the ACC Tourney then Duke is a lock. However, if Duke falls to the Irish, they will be in a cloud of uncertainty. Like I said, if Duke and Syracuse both lose their first round games, and the committee decides to just take three ACC teams, I'd rank them Notre Dame, UNC, Duke, Syracuse.
For all intensive purposes UVA is out. Virginia must beat Brown this Friday and must do so decisively to have any shot of making the NCAA Tourney. The Cavs would also need all of the conference favorites to win in order to help them out.
Bubble-In: Albany Great Danes
Bubble-Out: Stony Brook Seawolves
The Great Danes are as close to a lock as I can get, especially after the Yale win. The reason I don't have Albany as a sure lock is because the Great Danes still have two regular season games against Siena and UMBC left. I expect Albany to win out, but if they don't then Albany could be in trouble.
Albany should win the conference. The Great Danes have already handled Stony Brook, beating them by six goals in conference play. The Seawolves still have to play a tough Hartford team and I think they will need to win the conference to make the NCAAT, beating Hartford and winning an AmEast semifinal game won't help Stony Brook.
Locks: Denver Pioneers
Denver is in the NCAAT. That being said, Villanova played them to a one-goal game and Marquette and the Pios have yet to square off in the regular season. I would expect Denver to win the Conference but there is an outside chance that either Villanova or Marquette takes the crown. I have all three in the NCAAT right now, but if ‘Nova and Marquette faceoff in the semis, the loser could have its bubble busted.
Locks: Maryland Terrapins, Johns Hopkins Blue Jays
The Big Ten may be the most intriguing conference tournament this year. Each team still has one more conference game remaining. Penn State and Ohio State are tied at 1-3 going into the final week, but the Nittany Lions hold the head-to-head win over the Buckeyes for that fourth and final spot in the Big Ten Tournament. Maryland and Hopkins play this week, and if Maryland loses and Rutgers beats Ohio State, it could create chaos at the top. If that were to happen Rutgers, Maryland, and Hopkins would all be 4-1 with each 1-1 in the head-to-head matchups.
I cannot wait to watch the Big Ten Tournament, it is going to be incredibly competitive. While I would love to see Rutgers and Penn State in the NCAAs, as I think both could do some damage, either winning the Big Ten Conference could push an ACC team out.
Bubble-Out: Towson Tigers
Whichever team wins is in, everyone else will probably be left out. There is only one CAA program that has a potential NCAA at-large bid worthy resume, and that is Towson. The Tigers sit at 11-2 right now with a top 20 RPI win over Loyola while the two losses have come against Johns Hopkins and Delaware. I think that 7-10 loss to the Fighting Blue Hens could end up costing Towson an at-large bid, if it comes down to that. Towson still has a regular season game against Hofstra, but I think the Tigers will have to win the AQ to get into the NCAAs.
Towson, Hofstra, and Fairfield all have 3-1 conference records so there is no clear frontrunner right now. Besides those three, no other team is even eligible for an at-large bid. The Tigers and Pride will square off on April 30 in what could be a conference championship preview.
Bubble-Out: Pennsylvania Quakers, Harvard Crimson
Currently, only Yale and Brown are in a position to get an at-large bid out of the Ivy League. The Ivy Tournament will feature Brown as the first seed. Yale, Penn and Harvard could all end up tied for second if Harvard upsets Yale this week. Penn's best win is against Penn State and that will not be enough to get them in, no matter how the other conference tournaments shake out. If Harvard falls to Yale and then loses its first round game, then the Crimson won't even be eligible for the Tournament. Harvard does have wins over Villanova and Duke, but its 7-6 record (as it currently stands) will be a tough sell to the Committee.
No matter what, we should all be rooting for a Brown-Yale rematch, because that regular season game was fantastic.
There are no bubble teams in the MAAC, it's win or go home from here on out. Only two Metro-Atlantic teams have winning records: Marist and Quinnipiac. Marist does have a win over Stony Brook, but has nothing else going for it on the resume. I expect Quinnipiac to take the Conference title, but Marist could get in the way.
Bubble-In: Bryant Bulldogs
Bryant is about as bubbly as you can get. The Bulldogs have a top 20 RPI win over Brown but losses to Saint Joseph's and Drexel. Bryant has a game against Sacred Heart this week. If the Bulldogs don't win the AQ, it is still possible they get into the NCAAs.
Saint Joseph's has the head-to-head win over Bryant right now, but even though both sit at 4-1 there is still one more week in conference play remaining. Those two will take the first and second seeds in the Northeast Tournament. Hobart and Robert Morris are both 3-2 in conference, and will both make the conference championship.
Bubble-In: Loyola Greyhounds, Navy Midshipmen
Boston University's hopes were snuffed out after a loss to Holy Cross last week, and thus the Terriers will not make the Conference tourney. The Patriot League Tournament invites the six best conference teams. The tournament matchups will look like this:
#3 Bucknell vs. #6 Holy Cross
#5 Army vs. #4 Lehigh
#1 Navy vs. Lowest Seeded Quarterfinals Winner
#2 Loyola vs. Highest Seeded Quarterfinals Winner
I expect both Navy and Loyola to make the NCAAT, but don't sleep on Army. The Black Knights are 8-5 on the year, but played three RPI top 20 teams to one-goal losses (Syracuse, Navy, Bucknell). I believe Army will beat Lehigh which would set up a rematch with Navy, two teams that produced one of the season's best regular season games. The Black Knights could make a run and play their way into the Tourney, and if they do then this team could be bad first round matchup for a lot of squads.
Bubble-Out: Air Force Falcons
The SoCon still has one more week of regular season play to go. No matter what, Air Force will be the number one seed, Richmond will be the number two seed and High Point will be the number three seed. If Furman beats Bellarmine this week and Mercer loses to Richmond, Furman, Mercer, and Bellarmine would all be tied at 3-4. In that scenario all three would have the same head-to-head record and none would have a win against a higher seeded team or a loss against a lower seeded team, so the fourth seed in the SoCon tournament is still very much up in the air.