Weekend Slate: Conference Championship Previews

This weekend differs from most, as Conference Championships kick off the Series all over the country. Some teams bid situations have them looking comfy while some favorites can more or less walk through this tournament. Some Conferences will be dog fights. For some teams, this is their biggest tournament all season, with Regionals being an accomplishment their whole season has been building to. With so much action and so many different setups, here’s a special Weekend Slate talking D-I Conference Championships everywhere.

Note: So I didn’t get to finish this but it soon won’t be relevant so, here’s what I’ve gotten to. For the Southeast Women’s, I’ve down each Conference in detail, so check that from the blog homepage.

Atlantic Coast Region

Carolina

Open: Six out of nine will move on to Regionals, but it is strong group. Anchored by hyper competitive rivals, North Carolina Darkside and UNC-Wilmington Seamen, it stays competitive with Clemson, Appalachian State, NC State, South Carolina, and Duke all battling for the last four spots.

Women’s: Six spots are up for grabs among the seven teams. UNC-W Seaweed and North Carolina Pleaides will battle for the top spot, but the excitement will come from behind them. Clemson, South Carolina, Appalachian State, and Duke could fall into most any combination.

Colonial

Open: Eight teams battle for five bids in what is one of the most competitive Conference Championships year in and year out. Maryland and Georgetown are the favorites, but Delaware and George Washington are creeping on a come up. Will Towson and Hopkins take the fifth spot…or my alma mater, American University come through when it counts?

Women’s: With six bids available, only two of eight will be left out. Maryland is the definite favorite, lead by FFH-fave Sasha Bugler, and George Washington and Towson will both be aiming for the upset. How will Delaware finish a season that started disastrously? How will American hold up?

Virginia

Open: Only a few years ago, Virginia was the favorite of their titular Conference, but now they rest behind Virginia Tech and strong favorite, JMU Hellfish. This could turn out to be one of the least exciting Conference Champies, with five bids and five teams that look above the rest (the aforementioned trio plus William & Mary and George Mason).

Women’s: Virginia Hydra is the heavy favorite, but the battle for second should be interesting. JMU has lost just one game this year – a blowout at the hands of Virginia – but Virginia Tech’s resume is strong as well. The fourth place spot is the final regionals bid, so keep an eye out.

Great Lakes Region

Eastern Great Lakes

Women’s: Six bids are for grabs to Great Lakes Regionals. After an inauspicious start, Michigan ended up with results that make them to the clear favorite. #2 seed Notre Dame, #3 seed Michigan State, and #4 seed Purdue all have notable wins against good teams this season, like Kansas, Wash U, and Florida. They may have the potential to make a move on Michigan.

East Plains

Open: Perhaps due to the crazy weather this year, these teams have seen very little of each other. #1 seed Indiana has a significant head to head win vs. #3 seed Notre Dame, but otherwise, nothing of significance. The top four seeds are definite favorites to take the four bids.

Illinois

Open: Seven of nine will take bids to Regionals, sucking some of the drama out, but nobody wants to be the two left home. Illinois looks to be the heavy favorite, but after that, the next four or five teams could get all sorts of mixed up.

Women’s: Eight teams fighting for six bids, but the top two teams are a cut above the rest. They’ll likely be saving the fireworks for Regionals, but Illinois has put together a strong season – including winning Mardi Gras – that got them the #1 seed over Northwestern. Watch out, as one of these two is a very possible candidate to steal that Great Lakes Nationals bid.

Michigan

Open: With only three bids for the five teams here, this is a Conference tournament with plenty at stake. Michigan finished the season strong and is the favorite as the #1 seed, but Michigan State and Eastern Michigan are both going to bring it. WMU and CMU will be looking for the kind of upset that will impact Regionals greatly.

Metro East

Hudson Valley

Open: With only three bids for five teams – four of which seem strongly in contention – this could end up exciting. #1 seed Connecticut has put up mixed results against solid competition this season, but #4 seed SUNY-Albany has the most momentum coming in. #3 seed Yale took some tough late game losses at NEO, so we will see if they rebound.

Metro New York

Open: Seven teams with only six spots! Drama abound! Top four could all be Regionals relevant and looking to making a splash there, so their fight for seeding will be important. Princeton, Columbia, NYU, and Rutgers are seeded as listed, and Rutgers could be one of the country’s strongest #4 seeds this weekend.

Eastern Metro East

Women’s: There are seven bids in the mix for these ten teams. The top three (Princeton, Columbia, and NYU) have a combined seven losses all season (four of those are NYU’s), so the action among them should be exciting as each eyes a rare chance to go to Nationals. They’ll want to up their odds at Regionals any way they can.

Western New York

Women’s: #1 seed Ottawa is a heavy favorite, and probably the favorite in the Region, to take one of the six bids available. Cornell and Rochester have solid results, but how about mysterious Syracuse? They’ve played one tournament, where a total of two points were scored against them, although they forfeited a game. Could they make noise?

Open: Next weekend!

New England

Metro Boston

Open: Of the seven teams in attendance, only one won’t qualify for Regionals. Every team in this Conference has spent their season racking up wins, but are they prepared for one another? Harvard and Tufts are the 1-2 combo here, but they won’t want to show their hands too heavily before Regionals, where they’ll battle Dartmouth for those Nationals spots.

Women’s: There are…uh…. eight bids for the six teams? #1 seed Tufts is big time top dog, but #2 seed Northeastern and #4 seed Harvard had strong Centex showings, particularly Northeastern. Still, dunno what these teams will bring with Regionals already in their travel plans.

North New England

Open: Three bids, four teams. Means a bracket with a backdoor, so anything could happen! Vermont is the favorite here. Should be fun.

South New England

Open: Four teams, four bids. #1 seed Brown and #3 seed Williams have both been notables this year. Can #2 seed UMass make any waves? Or will everybody take it easy?

Greater New England

Women’s: Next weekend!

North Central

Lake Superior

Open: Eight teams line up to take a shot at five bids, but isn’t it really seven teams for four bids? You gotta like Wisconsin as a lock. UW-Milwaukee seems to be a clear #2, but maybe they can at least push Wisconsin? I can’t see anybody else taking these spots.

Women’s: This Women’s have five bids, like the guys, but nine teams, so maybe it’ll be tougher. Similar to their Open side, they have a clear cut #1 in Wisconsin and a clear cut #2 in Eau Claire. Can Sol upset an inconsistent Bella Donna squad?

Northwoods

Open: Next weekend!

West Plains

Open: I believe all six of these teams are ready to go to Regionals, bids in hand. Northern Iowa may have something to prove, though. They play with a chip on their shoulder. I’ve seen some Iowa State talk on the web. Can they back it up?

West North Central

Women’s: The six bids that some combination of these ten teams won’t be the thing to watch here. Four Nationals-level teams will get a chance to jockey for Regionals seedings. Iowa State, Carleton, Iowa, and Minnesota make this the strong Conference in the country. I’m expecting fireworks.

Northwest

Big Sky

Open: With an 11 team field, it could get ugly in the fight for the five bids. #1 seed Whitman will be tough to beat. #2 seed Washington State’s win over Gonzaga is one of the few in conference matchups we’ve seen so far. There are precious few games at all in most of these teams recorded histories, so it is hard to predict which way any of it will go.

Women’s: Next weekend!

Cascadia

Open: Next weekend!

Pacific

Women’s: Next weekend!

Ohio Valley

Ohio

Open: After the field site flooded, this tournament has been moved, so don’t be surprised to see some drops. Right now, seven bids for 11 teams. With a second bid to Nationals on the line at Regionals, a lot of teams are sensing opportunity. Ohio is a very (perhaps too much so) confident squad, but Ohio State, Dayton, and Cinci are right there. Case Western is coming over a great showing at Chicago Invite, with wins over Michigan State, Oregon State, Iowa, and Missouri. Don’t be surprised if they crash the party.

Women’s: Every team will be given the chance to go to Regionals before even competing here. Ohio State also probably doesn’t fear any of these teams are Regionals, so it is likely they’ll tune up. Case has a win over JMU, but not much else.

Penn

Women’s: There are 10 bids for the eight teams here, so someone gets two bids! Why don’t these Regions have 10 team Regionals like they make the Southeast? Or maybe they do and it just isn’t listed that way? All evidence suggest Pittsburgh Danger to roll through this on their way to Regionals, but Penn State and Carnegie-Melon have put together plenty of Ws in recent tournaments.

East Penn:

Open: With four bids, #1 seed Penn is a clear favorite, having won their past two tournaments. #2 seed Millersville fell to Penn 11-15 in their last matchup at Millersville’s home tournament Final. They’ll be out for some revenge.

West Penn:

Open: The top three look pretty solid to take 3/4 available bids. We will have to watch how the final four teams match up. #4 seed Shippensburg has some solid wins this year – including over #6 seed Indiana (Pennsylviania) – which makes them the favorite for the 4th bid.

 

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