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2010-11 NCAA College Basketball Conference Previews and Predictions

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Preseason Conference Power Rankings and Predicted Winners.

In college basketball the gap between the haves and the have-nots is getting closer and closer each season. Look no further than last year when Butler from the Horizon league was literally an inch away from cutting down the nets. If you need further proof, take a look at yesterday when Division II Kennesaw State went on the road and beat Georgia Tech by 17. These instances are getting more and more common, which makes college basketball that much more exciting and interesting to follow.

Power 6 Conferences:

1. Big 10 – The big 10 is not only loaded, but it’s deep. As many as 9 teams enter the season with hopes of getting into the field of 68. With 7 should be qualifiers, 2 legitimate national title contenders and a ton of returning talent, the Big 10 finally gets to claim the top spot on the college basketball conference throne.

Predicted top 3:

  1. Ohio State
  2. Michigan State
  3. Purdue

2. Big 12 – After the big 2 of Kansas and Kansas State, the Big 12 could flourish or flop. Baylor, Texas, and Missouri could transform the Big 12 into a war zone, but all have questions. The bottom of the Big 12 is weak, but they should still send 6 to the dance.

Predicted top 3:

  1. Kansas State
  2. Kansas
  3. Missouri

3. Big East – The Big East lost some prime talent from a year ago, but Pitt and Villanova looked stacked and primed for deep runs in March. The bottom of the conference is flat out awful, and the middle tier needs thing to come together quickly. It wont be easy for teams to replace the leaders and stars that they lost, but if they can, #3 might be low.

Predicted top 3:

  1. Pittsburgh
  2. Villanova
  3. Syracuse

4. SEC – No power conference is as wide open as the SEC. They should send 6 to the tourney, and any of those 6 could win the conference. With 5 of the 6 in the SEC east, they should be tested come March and could be scary matchups for anyone.

Predicted top 3:

  1. Florida
  2. Kentucky
  3. Tennessee

5. ACC – Aside from Duke, no team in the ACC should be dominant. Harrison Barnes at UNC is the hot name to watch and should easily get them back to the dance. Aside from the old guard, the ACC will field some exciting teams and will be a fun conference to watch. 8 teams think that they have what it takes for a tourney run.

Predicted top 3:

  1. Duke
  2. North Carolina
  3. North Carolina State

6. Pac 10 – Another season like 2009-10 and the Pac 10 will have to beg to stay in the “power 6.” The conference was terrible last year, but there are some signs of life heading into this season. The conference won’t be good, but it shouldn’t embarrass itself either.

Predicted top 3:

  1. Washington
  2. Arizona
  3. UCLA

Major Mid-Majors:

7. Atlantic 10 – The A-10 has a pretty solid first four in Temple, Richmond, Xavier & Dayton. Any of those 4 could walk away with the conference title. After that, things get a bit dicier, but there are few teams that might be able to put a scare into some of the big boys.  Best case scenario, A-10 qualifies 5, but I don’t see them getting quite that many.

Predicted top 3:

  1. Temple
  2. Richmond
  3. Xavier

8. Mountain West – The Mountain West takes their basketball seriously, and they should be able to get 4 into the final 68. Each of the top teams has to deal with the loss of a key player, but they should be able to compete on a national scale. This will be a fun conference to watch.

Predicted top 3:

  1. San Diego State
  2. UNLV
  3. BYU

9. Missouri Valley – Wichita State could very well be this year’s Butler, well maybe not that good, but the Shockers are a team that could do some major damage to the big boys. Along with them are 2 other probably tournament teams in Creighton and Northern Iowa. That doesn’t even mention a very good Missouri State squad that could very well contend in the MVC. No one wants to see any of these teams in their half of the bracket.

Predicted top 3:

  1. Wichita State
  2. Creighton
  3. Northern Iowa

10. Colonial Athletic – The CAA is returning a ton of talent from a year ago. Everyone’s favorite George Mason could be primed for a run to the top of the CAA, but VCU and Old Dominion will be standing in their way. Hofstra’s Charles Jenkins, last season’s player of the year is back as well. This is conference is filled with potential sleepers.

Projected top 3:

  1. Old Dominion
  2. VCU
  3. George Mason

11. Conference USA – Memphis is clearly the class of the conference, but they won’t be nearly as good as a season ago. Aside from them, there are some interesting teams to watch in UAB, UTEP, UCF, and Southern Miss, but this is not a good conference, so Memphis should put up a ridiculous win total again, only bow out early in March

Predicted top 3:

  1. Memphis
  2. UTEP
  3. UAB

Mid-Majors

12. MAC – The MAC will be a surprise conference this year. They seem to be slowly pushing their way up the rankings and establishing themselves as a top-flight mid-major conference. There are 5 teams that could win 20 this year, with Ohio, Kent State, Akron, Ball State and Central Michigan. Each would provide major challenges to Power 6 conference teams, especially with the right matchup.

Projected Winner: Akron

13. WCC – As always, this is Gonzaga’s conference to lose. They again should be a top 15 team and run through the down WCC. Saint Mary’s should be competitive, but a tournament bid might be asking a bit too much this year. Aside from these two, there isn’t much else to talk about.

Projected Winner: Gonzaga

14. Horizon – Butler was less than an inch away from winning the National Title last season, and while they won’t be nearly as good this year, they will still be very tough. Not that they need it, but they will be tested more than they were a year ago as the Horizon league is shaping up to be one of the deeper conferences in the country.

Projected Winner: Butler

15. Southern – Appalachian State, (yes, the App State that beat Michigan in football) has put together a dangerous team for this 2010-11 season. While they won’t qualify for the big dance unless they win the conference, doing so would give the Southern Conference two qualifiers as I think Wofford is a lock. Don’t sleep on  Davidson either.

Projected Winner: Wofford

16. Big West – If Jim Rome has anything to do with it UC Santa Barbera will be punching their ticket to the dance, and they very well might. Other contenders like Long Beach State and Pacific may have something to say about that, but just because each of these teams has as good of a chance as each other, I’ll go with the Gauchos.

Projected Winner: UC Santa Barbara

17. WAC – The WAC isn’t very good this season, but their bottom feeders are much better than that of the OVC. Utah State will be the class of the league. Aside from them, there may be an NIT team or two in the bunch, but not much else.

Projected Winner: Utah State

18. OVC – The Racers of Murray State are going to be good, really good, and Morehead State is no joke themselves. Both of these teams will be touted as possible sweet 16 darlings. The rest of this conference is pretty terrible though, so I’m unsure how tested the two favorites will be.

Projected Winner: Murray State

19. MAAC – The MAAC is a decent conference when compared to the ones at the bottom of this list, but none of the teams really stand out. Siena is the one that you’ve heard of, but they aren’t really primed to do a whole lot this year. They should win the conference because none of the teams are really loaded. They aren’t bad, just not great.

Projected Winner: Siena

20. Big Sky – Like many mid-major conferences, the Big Sky is top-heavy. They are led by Montana, but Weber State should be right there with them this season. There are a few other interesting teams, but after that the talent falls off quickly.

Projected Winner: Weber State

The Rest…

21. Southland – There isn’t much to say about the Southland. It’s a conference that has pretty even teams that all lack the talent needed to compete anywhere but in the Southland. Don’t expect much in March, or any month prior to that for that matter.

Projected Winner: Stephen F. Austin

22. Sun Belt – Much like the southland, you have to be flat-out addicted to college basketball to watch many Sun Belt games. The usual suspects will be better than the rest, but no one here will have much of a say when it matters.

Projected Winner: Western Kentucky

23. Summit – Oakland boasts the league’s best player in Keith Benson, but Oral Roberts should pose a threat to their tournament dreams. The conference returns a number of talented players, which means that a tournament upset or two is well within reason.

Projected Winner: Oakland

24. Ivy League – There are a lot of decent teams in the Ivy this season, but no dominant ones like a season ago with Cornell. Harvard could be the team to step up. Penn and Princeton are the best of the rest. The conference is on the upswing but not there yet.

Projected Winner: Harvard

25. Atlantic Sun – This conference is top heavy, but the teams compete. That should create a good battle for both the regular season and tournament titles. East Tennessee State has been the big dog, but there are contenders like Lipscomb ready to ascend.

Projected Winner: East Tennessee State

26. Patriot League – A competitive conference, but not a good one. Talent is pretty lacking across the board with the exception of Lehigh’s CJ McCollum. The Patriot Leauge doesn’t have a slew of awful teams, but they don’t have any great ones either.

Projected Winner: Lehigh

27. America East – Don’t look for any sleepers in this conference. The prime contenders head into this season minus a key player from a year ago, and the other schools just don’t have the talent to scare anyone. One and done in March.

Projected Winner: Vermont

28. Big South – Winthrop has been the staple in the Big South for a good number of years, and should be no different this year.  Radford, Coastal Carolina, and UNC Ashford may challenge the Eagles for the tournament bid, but otherwise a conference to forget.

Projected Winner: Winthrop

29. NEC – Quinnipiac and Bobby Mo are the class of the NEC. There are a couple other teams that may be interesting to watch if all other stations go dark, and you are bedridden with no access to a radio or human contact.

Projected Winner: Robert Morris

30. MEAC – Annually in the conversation of worst basketball conference with the SWAC (sorry Great West you guys aren’t good enough to even get into the convo). Morgan State is actually a nice program, the rest of the conference…yikes.

Projected Winner: Morgan State

31. SWAC – I give people that are die-hard about SWAC basketball teams a lot of credit. There is almost nothing to get excited about, but I guess beer makes anything tolerable.

Projected Winner: Jackon State

32. Great West Doesn’t get a tournament bid, but at least the players can tell their grandkids that they played Division-I basketball.

Projected Winner: South Dakota

Discussion

2 Responses to “2010-11 NCAA College Basketball Conference Previews and Predictions”

  1. A to the K!

    Good choice on Siena!

    Posted by Bobby Digital | November 17, 2010, 1:25 pm
  2. The Great West NEEDS a tournament bid!!!!! It must have been tough to pick South Dakota to win that conference when that conference is loaded with QUALITY DEPTH!!!!!!

    Posted by Dubba | November 18, 2010, 5:36 pm

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