College Basketball Power Rankings: A New #1

Duke lost to Boston College, while Arizona State went to Lawrence and knocked off Kansas. Neither neither take the top spot. Michigan State sits at 12-1 while Villanova remains undefeated. 1-2 is an entertaining debate.

1. Villanova 11-0

The Wildcats blew out Temple by 20 to remain undefeated, and vault to #1 thanks to Boston College’s huge win.

2. Arizona State 11-0

Entering the year, Arizona was #2 and their in-state rival was unranked. When the teams meet on December 30, Arizona State will be #2. It’ll be a matchup of ranked teams, and the atmosphere will be electric.

3. Duke 12-1

Losing to BC hurts, and seeing Duke at the bottom of the ACC standings is amusing. However, the Blue Devils will get back on track.

4. Michigan State 12-1 

The Spartans racked up four quick wins against weak opposition, and don’t rise in the rankings.

5. Miami 9-0

Miami played only one game the past two weeks, but the ‘Canes stayed undefeated against George Washington. Miami and Villanova are the only unbeatens to appear in every top 25.

6. Kentucky 9-1

Edit: This post was written Friday, and hasn’t accounted for Saturday’s results.

Finally the Wildcats played some quality teams, as Kentucky knocked off Monmouth and Virginia Tech. They won’t be challenged until a January 6 trip to Tennessee. (Update: UCLA disagrees)

7. Texas A&M 11-1

The SEC is shaping up to be incredible this year. The Aggies follow Kentucky as the second top-10 team, while #14 Tennessee is one of the most dangerous teams in the country. Texas A&M will face a brutal January, coming up against Tennessee, Kentucky, and Kansas. . . all on the road.

8. Xavier 11-1

J.P. Macura is outperforming Trevon Bluiett, but Xavier doesn’t mind. The flamethrowing duo is averaging a combined 31 points per game, and that number will rise when Big 12 play begins, and there’s little garbage time for the bench.

9. Wichita State 9-2

The Shockers were upset by Oklahoma, and fall a few spots. Trae Young outdueled Landry Shamet on both ends of the floor, but don’t expect that to happen to Shamet often. Markis McDuffie’s imminent return will add another explosive weapon for coach Gregg Marshall.

10. Kansas 10-2

The Jayhawks snapped out of a skid, destroying Stanford by 21. Someone circled January 6 on the calendar, as TCU comes to Lawrence in the day’s 2700th ranked matchup.

11. West Virginia 10-1

The Mountaineers haven’t lost since the season opener, but that might change when WVU faces Oklahoma on January 6, (when else?) Baylor on the 9th, and Kansas on the 15th. However, all of those games are at home.

12. North Carolina 10-2

UNC picked up a great win over a terrific Tennessee team by 5, and is in good shape heading into ACC play.

There’s just one little problem called Wofford.

13. TCU 11-0

The Horned Frogs haven’t lost since last March, and coach Jamie Dixon has TCU in the thick of Big 12 contention. The conference is incredible this year, and TCU looks to be headed for the NCAA Tournament.

14. Tennessee 8-2

While the AP Poll has the Vols #21, Tennessee has been impressive. They controlled the game against North Carolina for 35 minutes before falling short. The nation’s fifth-youngest team just needs experience finishing games, and is a genuine threat to win the SEC.

15. Purdue 12-2

The Boilermakers blew out Butler by 15 while becoming the second-highest Big 10 team in the rankings. Purdue will answer the question of Michigan State’s toughest challenger on January 13, a trip to Minnesota.

16. Cincinnati 10-2

The two-loss barrage continues with Cincinnati, the American Athletic’s second team in the rankings. The Bearcats recovered from a tough loss to Florida by knocking off formerly unbeaten Mississippi State. Then UCLA fell to the elite defense. Wichita State’s greatest challenger rises again.

17. Baylor 10-2

Sick of the Big 12 yet? Baylor hasn’t played anyone for half a month, and won’t until a stretch against Texas Tech and TCU. Oh wait, their next two games.

18. Oklahoma 9-1

Trae Young is now the frontrunner for Player of the Year after a dominating performance against Wichita State. Oklahoma shocked the Shockers, and Young followed it up with 29 points and  22 (twenty freaking two!) assists against Northwestern State. Trae Young immediately went off again for 31 points and 12 assists as Oklahoma ran Northwestern off the court.

19. Arkansas 9-2

The Razorbacks knocked off Minnesota while vaulting into the top 25. A blowout loss to Houston earlier in the year hurts, but Arkansas could start 4-1 in the SEC. However, a December 30th clash with Tennessee could see Arkansas blown out.

20. Virginia 10-1

The Cavaliers didn’t really do anything, cruising against Davidson and Savvanah State. Skip!

21. Arizona 10-3

The preseason #2 is back in the rankings with impressive victories over Alabama and Texas A&M. The nation must despise the sight of a healthy Rawle Alkins.

22. Clemson 10-1

The Tigers are quietly putting together a solid resumé, and knocking off formerly-ranked Florida eliminated any obstacle preventing Clemson from being ranked.

23. Creighton 10-2

The Bluejays pulled off a nine point win over a good Texas-Arlington team, and move up thanks to. . .

24. Seton Hall 10-2

Rutgers is 10-3! Rutgers beat Seton Hall! Will wonders never cease?

25. Minnesota 10-3

The Gophers hit their annual December rough spot, dropping games to Nebraska and Arkansas before squeaking by Drake. Minnesota will get back on track eventually, and the Big 10 should be afraid.

Rounding out the 32: Texas Tech 10-1, Florida State 11-1, Gonzaga 10-3, Notre Dame 8-3, Houston 10-2, Syracuse 10-1, Auburn 11-1.

 

 

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Tennessee–North Carolina: Playing for a 2-seed

Tennessee and North Carolina meet Sunday afternoon in a matchup of two terrific teams. While the Tar Heels are defending national champions, the Vols have been a surprise. Wins over Purdue, NC State, and a better-than-one-thinks Mercer have catapulted Tennessee into the top 25, and coach Rick Barnes’ team has a chance to cement themselves in the national conversation.

North Carolina is still a terrific basketball team. Joel Berry is back, while Luke Maye has entered superstardom. Maye will try to defend Grant Williams, Tennessee’s electric forward averaging 16.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. If Williams stays out of foul trouble, (3.5 fouls per game) Tennessee has all the tools around him to knock off UNC.

Bracket implications

Jerry Palm of CBS Sports currently projects both teams as three-seeds in his latest bracket. The winning team will find themselves a top 10 team heading into conference play.

College Basketball Power Rankings: Upset Special

Don’t point out the 7-1s to Brazil.

Kansas, Texas A&M, Minnesota, Notre Dame, and Florida all lost to unranked teams. Just a typical week in college basketball.

1. Duke 11-0

The Blue Devils’ cramped schedule finally pays off, as Duke only plays three games for the rest of December. Duke put up a massive 124 points in a game against Saint Francis, including 71 in the first half. Mental.

2. Michigan State 8-1

Blowout victories over Notre Dame and North Carolina have buoyed the Spartans, and MSU keeps blowing out opponents. Rutgers is the latest opponent to stand no chance against Miles Bridges and Co.

3. Villanova 9-0

The Wildcats asserted themselves as a Final Four threat with a win over Gonzaga, an 88-72 blowout. Mikal Bridges has transformed into a star, and Jalen Brunson is a terrific point guard.

4. Miami 8-0

Nothing noteworthy, as the ‘Canes beat Boston U by 15, and remain stationary.

5. Wichita State 7-1 

The Shockers took care of South Dakota State, but the most impressive aspect is the improvement of Baylor, who Wichita State handled 69-60. Gregg Marshall’s team has a great chance at a #1 seed come March.

6. North Carolina 9-1

Many teams in this range lost, so UNC vaults a few places despite only playing Western Carolina. Luke Maye’s incredible production continues to astound the nation, but can the forward string good performances together in ACC play?

7. Kentucky 7-1

The Wildcats haven’t played anyone good other than Kansas, but continue to win games. Kentucky thanks preseason projections.

8. Xavier 8-1

The Musketeers’ meteoric rise (#12 last week) continues, as some help provides Xavier with a top 10 appearance. However, Trevon Bluiett’s inconsistency needs to resolve itself if the shooting guard wants to lead Xavier anywhere.

9. Texas A&M 7-1

In preseason, every Aggie fan would’ve taken a three point loss to preseason #2 Arizona. Now, the three-loss Wildcats seem uncertain of where they want to go. Texas A&M falls to #9, and should hang around until games against Tennessee and Kentucky.

10. Kansas 7-1

Devonte Graham is human. Kansas dropped a strange game to Washington, and falls to the ten spot. Sunday, the Jayhawks face a massive non-conference test against Arizona State.

11. Arizona State 7-0

The Sun Devils will need to get past an interesting game against St. John’s before the massive Kansas clash. Sunday will be fun.

12. Minnesota 8-2

Losing to Nebraska hurts, but the Golden Gophers could get on a roll heading into a Feb. 13 Michigan State clash. Pending Purdue, the Spartans have circled the Gophers in red.

13. West Virginia 8-1

Not only beating Virginia, but dominating the Cavaliers is what catapults WVU so high. The Mountaineers haven’t lost since the Texas A&M game, and could be the best challenger for Kansas in the Big 12.

14. Tennessee 6-1

The Vols keep winning. The latest to be trounced is Georgia Tech, which is not a given. Tennessee could be on the brink of something special. In the words of Rick Barnes, “Look at little ol’ Clemson Tennessee!”

15. Gonzaga 7-2

The Zags may be WCC favorites, but Gonzaga will need to stay close against high-quality opposition. Villanova had its way against the lackluster side. Gonzaga needs to get better.

16. Seton Hall 7-1

The Pirates wrecked Louisville and Texas Tech, and rise to the #16 spot. The Desi Rodriguez—Angel Delgado tandem is working well.

17. Notre Dame 7-2

You can’t lose to Ball State and expect not to plummet. The Irish were awful in their second loss of the season, and fall a long way.

18. Cincinnati 7-1

The Bearcats were blown out in the Crosstown Shootout by Xavier, and fall due to a nonexistent strength of schedule otherwise. Western Carolina keeps showing up on the records of top 25 teams.

19. Purdue 9-2

The Boilermakers are off to a 2-0 start in Big 10 play, and looked impressive. Expect Purdue to keep winning until a mid-January showdown with Minnesota.

20. Florida State 8-0

A demolition of Florida helps, and an undefeated record isn’t too bad either. FSU won’t drop off too much in the loaded ACC, and that’s a wonderful achievement.

21. TCU 9-0

The Horned Frogs find themselves ranked after demolishing SMU, and undefeated records look nice.

22. Baylor 6-2

The Bears didn’t play.

23. Virginia 8-2

The Cavaliers did play, and West Virginia says thanks.

24. Creighton 6-2

See Baylor.

25. USC 4-2

Argh.

First five out: Clemson, Houston, Georgia, Syracuse, Oklahoma

College Basketball Power Rankings: Arizona and Purdue Fall

Welcome to the conclusion of college basketball’s second week. Remain calm.

What just happened!?

Former #2 Arizona lost twice in a row to formerly unranked opposition. Former #21 Purdue is gone after losing to now-ranked Tennessee and unranked Western Kentucky. This same Tennessee team was leading Villanova at the half by twelve. . . and lost. Chaos.

1. Duke (5-0)

First half struggles against Portland State hurt the Blue Devils, but the lack of other #1 contenders keeps Duke in the top spot.

2. Kansas (4-0)

Don’t underrate the Jayhawks blowout of South Dakota State. Jackrabbits star Mike Daum was neutralized despite a “weak” frontcourt, and Devonte’ Graham went off. Kansas might not have the nation’s most difficult schedule, but the Jayhawks have picked up some quality wins.

3. Villanova (5-0)

Villanova took on their first test of the season and defeated a good Tennessee team. Tennessee was leading at the half, (46-34!) but Jalen Brunson went off for 25 points as the nation’s new #3 advanced to the final of the Battle 4 Atlantis. Excuse me, the Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis. Companies these days.

4. Michigan State (3-1)

A blowout win over DePaul doesn’t imply anything about Michigan State, but the Spartans might coast until Big 10 play tips off.

5. Notre Dame (6-0)

The Irish won Mike Brey a preseason tournament. Blowouts of Chaminade and LSU led to a made-for-TV final against Wichita State, one Notre Dame led twice. . . 4-2 and 67-66. That’s it.

6. Miami (4-0)

Bruce Brown and JaQuan Newton have played well during Lonnie Walker’s slump, but La Salle and Florida A&M weren’t expected to challenge a top 10 team anyways.

7. USC (4-0) 

The Trojans needed overtime to defeat Vanderbilt 93-89, although the Commodores seem Tournament-caliber. USC’s frontcourt is going to be a problem for the rest of the Pac-12.

8. Minnesota (5-0)

The Golden Gophers won eight games two years ago. Now they’re ranked number eight. Richard Pitino has done wonders for this program, and recruiting has surged. Isaiah Washington has played a key role as the sixth man, leading Minnesota to blowout victory after blowout victory. They will be tested tomorrow against Alabama and against Miami on the 29th. Win those and Minnesota could catapult into the top five.

9. Wichita State (4-1)

A loss to Notre Dame hurts the Shockers, but dominating wins over California and Marquette indicate Wichita State’s solid grip on a top three seed. The Maui Invitational showed Notre Dame is much better than we thought. Stop with the “overrated” chants. Don’t forget top scorer Markis McDuffie is still out. Wichita State will be a force in March. . . and all it takes is one game for Landry Shamet to go off, and ruin the year for the rest of the American Athletic.

10. Kentucky (5-1)

The Wildcats have struggled against one of the easiest schedules in the nation, needing second half surges to beat ETSU and Troy. Preseason projections remain a force in these rankings, which is why Kentucky is in the top 20, let alone top ten. Jarred Vanderbilt can’t get healthy soon enough for the SEC frontrunner.

11. North Carolina (4-0)

Stanford put up 72 against UNC and 87 against Florida. . . and lost both games. Luke Maye has become a force in the paint, while Joel Berry’s accelerated recovery doesn’t hurt. In other news, I expect some Tar Heel fans to complain about #1 Duke, #5 Notre Dame, and #6 Miami. The ACC is stacked again.

12. Texas A&M (4-0)

Two weeks in, the Aggies boast a fantastic non-conference resume with wins over West Virginia, Oklahoma State, and Penn State. Keep in mind the first two were without potential NBA lottery pick Robert Williams.

13. Arizona (3-2)

The Wildcats don’t like preseason projections. Not only did Arizona lose to NC State, but the Wildcats lost to SMU as well. Who would’ve thought the seventh place game of the Battle 4 Atlantis—excuse me, the Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis for sponsorship reasons—would be Arizona vs. Purdue? This crazy sport.

14. Cincinnati (5-0)

The Bearcats fall three spots not because of losses, but because of scheduling. Wyoming is decent, but Richmond and Coppin State are not. Cincinnati will have a chance to shoot right back up the rankings December 2nd at Xavier.

15. Xavier (5-0)

Speaking of the Musketeers, Xavier dominated Wisconsin in the Gavitt Games, then blew out Hampton and George Washington. The winner of the Cincinnati-Xavier game could rise into the top 10.

16. Saint Mary’s (5-0)

An 18 point victory over Harvard vaults the Gaels up two spots

17. NC State (5-1)

#2 Arizona sauntered into Imperial Arena and lost to the upstart Wolfpack. Braxton Beverley lit up for 20 points in 27 minutes as NC State finds themselves ranked.

18. Florida (4-0)

The Gators can’t afford to give up 87 points to any team if they want to go far in March. Gonzaga is the next opponent for, in my opinion, the nation’s most overrated team.

19. Louisville (3-0)

Brian Bowen will officially not play for the Cardinals, amplifying Quin Snider’s turnover struggles. Louisville has played an easy schedule, and despite the undefeated record, doesn’t appear ready for ACC play.

20. Baylor (5-0)

The Bears enjoyed one of the better weeks of any team in the nation, knocking off Wisconsin and Creighton. Baylor appears the best-suited to challenge Kansas in the Big 12.

21. Seton Hall (4-1)

Losing to Rhode Island at the buzzer hurts, and knocks the Pirates down a few spots. Angel Delgado and Khadeen Carrington are producing, but Seton Hall needs Desi Rodriguez to be more consistent if the Pirates want to challenge Villanova.

22. Tennessee (3-1)

This Tennessee team is better than anyone expected. The Vols upset Purdue in the Battle 4 Atlantis—sorry, the B—ah, forget it. Then coach Rick Barnes led Tennessee into a massive game against Villanova. Predicted by most important people to lose by twenty, at the half the Vols were beating the #6 team in the country by twelve! Despite a massive Villanova rally to fuel a Wildcat victory, Tennessee has proved to the nation how good this Vols team can be.

23. Creighton (4-1)

Creighton crushed UCLA, pushed Baylor to the brink, and find themselves in this week’s power rankings. That win against the Bruins could prove crucial come March, because after UCLA gets their three freshmen back, the Bruins will win games. And Creighton? They get Gonzaga December 1st. Somebody scheduled well.

24. Alabama

Collin Sexton is playing and stuffing the box score. Alabama only played against UT-Arlington and Alabama A&M though, and will receive a sterner test against #8 Minnesota. Two years ago, even I would never believe those words, and I’m a Minnesota fan!

25. SMU

The first time a vaunted team loses, rank the team they lost to. The second time they lose, rank the upstarts #23 or below, as it indicates an uncharacteristic skid.

On a more important note, what the Mustangs did was amazing. Defeating the former #2 is nothing to scoff at. Point guard Shake Milton has been terrific for SMU, buoying them to success.

Next five (in order): West Virginia, Temple, Virginia, Gonzaga, Rhode Island

 

College Basketball Power Rankings: Duke claims the top spot

Photo source: Flickr

Disclaimer: This post was written Thursday afternoon, November 16th. Anything that happened afterwards will be reflected next week. 

Just to make sure nobody shouts at me if Miami loses to Florida A&M.

 

The first regular season edition of After the Whistle’s CBB Power Rankings is filled with chaos, rising, falling, and a new #1. In a week where many top 25 teams dominated, teams that produced lackluster performances (ahem, Northwestern) fell, making way for others. This will be interesting.

1. Duke

The Blue Devils delivered the week’s marquee win over former #1 Michigan State. Grayson Allen’s 37 points were the deciding factor in a terrific win for Duke.

2. Arizona

Dusan Ristic is off to a terrific start manning the paint, although Arizona’s dominant wins are over Northern Arizona and UMBC. I have no reason to drop the Wildcats, for now.

3. Kansas

The Jayhawks’ win in the Champions Classic buoys Kansas up four spots. As Kentucky will attest, Devonte’ Graham is going to be a problem for opposition all year long.

4. Wichita State

Rounding out today’s top seeds, the Shockers destroyed a very good College of Charleston and put up over 100 points on an average UMKC defense. Once Landry Shamet lights up, look out!

5. Michigan State

A loss to Duke in the Champions Classic hurts MSU, and sinks the Spartans to fifth, out of the #1 seed line. Miles Bridges and company will rise eventually.

6. Villanova

Struggling for a half against Columbia hurts the Wildcats, and Nicholls State isn’t a difficult opponent. Villanova won’t have the opportunity to pick up their first solid resume-boosting win until December, when Gonzaga visits.

7. Miami

Unlike Villanova, the Hurricanes do have a solid win. Navy is decent, and Miami beat them by 34. Bruce Brown is transforming into an NBA lottery prospect.

8. USC

The Trojans struggled against North Dakota State, and haven’t played anyone decent. That will change when USC visits Vanderbilt Sunday night.

9. Kentucky

The Wildcats have struggled against Utah Valley and a good Vermont team. Losing to Kansas doesn’t help Kentucky’s case, but preseason projections are playing a big part after only one week of basketball.

10. Minnesota

Preseason projections are the reason Minnesota isn’t in the top seven. That and I’m bending over backwards trying not to be too biased. Richard Pitino’s Golden Gophers ran away with what was projected to be a close game at Providence, and put up 59 points in one half against Niagara, the team coming off a win against Saint Bonaventure.

11. Cincinnati

Similar to many teams in this range, the Bearcats haven’t played any good teams. . . but Cincinnati is blowing out all comers. The American Athletic could easily have two top-10 teams entering March.

12. North Carolina

The Tar Heels drop one spot after struggles in an eight point win over Bucknell. A dominating performance against a Northern Iowa helps the nation’s greatest question mark.

13. Notre Dame

Matt Farrell and Bonzie Colson have formed a dynamic point guard-to-center combo, beating two decent teams (DePaul and Mount St. Mary’s) along the way.

14. Texas A&M

Missing Robert Williams, a loss to former #16 West Virginia would have been excusable. Texas A&M decided to give me no headaches by destroying WVU 88-65. The Aggies are this week’s highest risers, vaulting up ten spots.

15. Seton Hall

The Pirates delivered solid wins against Monmouth and Indiana by double digits, and Desi Rodriguez continues to be a matchup nightmare. Khadeem Carrington is no slouch from behind the arc.

16. Xavier

There’s not much to see here. The Musketeers benefit from others struggling while Xavier blew out Morehead State and Rider.

17. Louisville

Mired in controversy, the Cardinals won their only game—a 72-61 win over George Mason. Brian Bowen may be ineligible, but Deng Adel is playing well.

18. Saint Mary’s

The Gaels are the higher of the two teams entering this week’s rankings. Jock Landale and Co. are off to an undefeated start, and will challenge Gonzaga for the West Coast crown.

19. Florida

The Gators stay out after playing one game, a 116-74 demolition of Gardner-Webb. There’s not much to be gleaned here.

20. Missouri 

Defeating Iowa State by 15 is impressive. Doing it without NBA lottery prospect Michael Porter Jr. sends a message to the rest of the SEC.

21. Purdue

It seems the nation has underestimated how good Isaac Haas is at basketball. Caleb Swanigan who?

22. UCLA

The Bruins would take a mulligan. Not only did UCLA need overtime to beat Georgia Tech, but three players were arrested for stealing sunglasses. LiAngelo Ball is back, but isn’t helping.

23. Alabama

Alabama boasts a dominant win over Memphis without their best player. Expecting the Tide to continue winning without Collin Sexton is an unfortunate view, but the five-star recruit could be eligible soon.

24. West Virginia 

Jevon Carter and Co. look back on track after destroying American University. The issue is getting blown out by a Robert Williams-less Texas A&M.

25. Baylor

Others have vaulted over the Bears and their weak schedule, even though Baylor is undefeated. Opportunities for marquee wins will present themselves when Big 12 play begins.

Next five in consideration: TCU, Gonzaga, Rhode Island, Virginia, Northwestern

Projecting the CBB Conference Champions: The Mid-Major Threats

Welcome back. If you read the first part, you’re in the minority. Unfortunately many people don’t care about the one-bid conferences. This is where the fun begins!

Southern: Wofford

The SoCon is no contest. Fletcher Magee and Nathan Hoover form one of the nation’s top 50 backcourts, with Cam Jackson manning the paint. Expect Wofford to run away with the SoCon.

Horizon: Oakland

Oakland tied for the top record in the Horizon last year, brings back all of their key pieces, and the other co-champion left for the Missouri Valley. Thanks, Valparaiso.

Ivy: Harvard

The Ivy League still maintains some bottom-dwellers, but Princeton and Harvard will contend for the title all year long. Yale is a solid team as well, and might contend for an at-large bid. Harvard’s non-conference schedule will buoy their advanced metrics. The Crimson face Kentucky, Minnesota, and St. Mary’s.

Missouri Valley: Northern Iowa

Bennett Koch leads the main beneficiary to Wichita State jumping to the American Athletic against little opposition. Illinois State lost key pieces fresh off a 17-1 record in conference play, while Valparaiso will struggle with the new conference. Missouri State isn’t ready to contend, although their roster says otherwise. The team remaining is Wichita State’s former nemesis, UNI.

Conference USA: Middle Tennessee

Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion, Louisiana Tech and UAB present C-USA with four solid teams capable of pulling an upset in March. The foremost of these is the Blue Raiders, who have upset Big 10 teams in back-to-back NCAA Tournaments. Middle Tennessee loses two of last year’s top three scorers, but Giddy Potts and Chase Miller lead an explosive team once again.

Colonial Athletic: College of Charleston

The College of Charleston returns every notable player from last year’s 25-win team. Towson, Elon, and Hofstra will be good.

Mountain West: Nevada

San Diego State, Fresno State, and Wyoming will be factors in the at-large race. UNLV will be competitive again with a talented roster. However, Nevada’s the preseason favorite for a reason. They appear a cut above the rest.

Atlantic 10: St. Bonaventure

Dayton and VCU will bow into the middle of the A-10 pack after each lost key players and their head coach. Taking the top spot, St. Bonaventure will finally win the conference in sensation Jaylen Adams’ final year.

West Coast: Saint Mary’s

Others argue for Gonzaga, but I think the Zags lost too much from last year’s Final Four run. Saint Mary’s features the nation’s finest center in Jock Landale, along with strong backcourt depth. Look for the Gaels to take the WCC.

Projecting the CBB Conference Champions: The One-Bid Leagues

Welcome to the wildest sport in the world. College basketball isn’t short of contenders this year, but instead of looking at national title implications, today I project the champion of every single Division 1 conference. Beginning at the bottom with the one-bid leagues, it’s going to be a wild ride.

Mid-Eastern Athletic: North Carolina Central

Nothing much to see here. North Carolina Central should again dominate the worst conference in college basketball.

Southwest Athletic: Texas Southern

Texas Southern has regained control of the SWAC, and will win again despite losing six of last year’s eight top scorers.

Northeast: St. Francis (Pa.)

The Red Flash are the best team in the Northeast by far, but a difficult non-conference schedule could force St. Francis into the First Four.

Southland: Stephen F. Austin

The Lumberjacks have slipped, but should have enough to take care of one of the nation’s easiest conferences.

Big West: UC Davis

Chima Moneke’s UC Davis could slip into the top 200 in advanced metrics, and will win this weak league.

Atlantic Sun: Florida Gulf Coast

With upstart Lipscomb on their heels, FGCU will need stat-stuffing Brandon Goodwin to deliver. Florida Gulf Coast’s depth will help in big games.

Big Sky: Montana State

Tyler Hall headlines seven of Montana State’s top eight scorers returning. The 23.1 PPG scorer will light up the conference alongside Southern Miss transfer Keljin Blevins.

Big South: Winthrop

Liberty, UNC-Asheville, and Winthrop all have sneaky 13 seed potential, but the defending champions seem a cut above the rest.

Ohio Valley: Belmont

Jacksonville State is a solid contender, but Belmont’s depth and explosiveness will propel them to a conference title.

America East: Vermont

The middle and bottom of the conference will be terrible, but Vermont presents a scary challenge for any five seed. Albany lost too much to contend with the Catamounts.

Metro Atlantic Athletic: Iona

Monmouth lost five seniors from last year’s at-large contender, and Iona’s rebuild is almost complete. Look for the Gaels to take the MAAC.

Patriot: Bucknell

The Bison are so good in comparison to their Patriot League peers. Bucknell should walk to a conference title, and a difficult non-conference schedule with only one team outside KenPom’s top 200 gives them an NCAA Tournament preview.

Western Athletic: Grand Canyon

The wack WAC regains relevance with Grand Canyon’s first year in awhile eligible for the NCAA Tournament. Utah Valley is solid too.

Summit: South Dakota State

Mike Daum’s return automatically thrusts the Jackrabbits to the top. Daum will be a matchup nightmare all year long.

Mid-American: Western Michigan

As soon as Thomas Wilder pulled out of the NBA Draft, WMU became the immediate favorites. It won’t be easy, as Ball State is coming off back-to-back 20 win seasons.

Sun Belt: Texas-Arlington

Georgia Southern is the favorite, but give me UT-Arlington, a team that challenged right until the end last year. Expect more of the same.