NCAA: Picking All 32 Conference Favorites

The college basketball season is now in full swing as conference play has begun. The season is in the heart of play as conference play is little over a week in the books and soon will take center stage. With the season progressing it is time to take a look at who is the favorite for every conference and who can make a run come March.

ACC

Preseason Favorite: Duke Blue Devils

Current Favorite: Virginia Caviliers

With the best recruiting class in history it was an easy pick to take Duke. The Blue Devils have three players who are projected to be top five picks in the NBA draft but it looks like Virginia will give the Blue Devils a run for their money.

Virginia seems to be improved on defense and is much improved on the offensive and are certainly playing with a chip on their shoulder after losing to #16 UMBC in the tournament. North Carolina, Virginia Tech, and Florida State could all make a push to win the conference but it’s Virginia and Duke’s to lose.

Big 12

Preseason Favorite: Kansas Jayhawks

Current Favorite: Kansas Jayhawks

Kansas is still on track to win their 15th straight Big 12 and are easily still the favorites this season. The conference isn’t going down without a fight however. Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Iowa State have the talent and skill to dethrone the Jayhawks but will need almost a perfect conference season to do so.

Big East

Preseason Favorite: Villanova Wildcats

Current Favorite: Marquette Golden Eagles

Villanova has been the poster child of the Big East but after losing four players to the NBA draft the Wildcats are struggling to stay afloat. VIllanova could still pull the championship but Marquette and Seton Hall are waiting in the wings to take over that top spot.

Big Ten

Preseason Favorite: Michigan State Spartans

Current Favorite: Michigan State Spartans

The Spartans will not have an easy path to win the Big Ten but still are looking like the favorites in what seems to be a two team race for the Big Ten title with Michigan. The Wolverines are one of the three remaining unbeaten teams left this season.

Pac-12

Preseason Favorite: Oregon Ducks

Current Favorite: Arizona State Sun Devils

If Arizona State doesn’t win the conference the Pac-12 could be in danger of being a one bid league in March. Arizona State should have no problems as they are clearly the best team but inconsistency will make things interesting.

SEC

Preseason Favorite: Kentucky Wildcats

Current Favorite: Tennessee Volunteers

Kentucky has not lived up to the potential as they are still working to put thigs together but Tennessee has looked the part and much more.

American Athletic Conference

Preseason Favorite: UCF Knights

Current Favorite: Houston Cougars

UCF started the season with a home loss to FAU but since then have shown why they were picked to win the conference. Houston however, has proven to be the team to beat. Houston is currently one of only three remaining unbeaten teams and are currently ranked in the top 25.

WCC

Preseason Favorite: Gonzaga Bulldogs

Current Favorite: Gonzaga Bulldogs

Even in a very much improved WCC the Bulldogs far more superior than any team in the conference.

America East

Preseason Favorite: Vermont Catemounts

Current Favorite: Vermont Catemounts

After going 11-4 and only pushing Kansas and Louisville on the road the Catemounts are still the favorite to win the America East and depending on match-up can easily win a game in March.

Atlantic 10

Preseason Favorite: Saint Louis Billikens

Current Favorite: Saint Louis Billikens

Saint Louis has shown that they have what it takes to win the conference but it will be a fight for any team to take a commanding lead in the A-10. The team has the possibility and talent to place three teams into the NCAA tournament with VCU, Dayton, and Davidson all challenging the Billikens for the top spot.

Atlantic Sun

Preseason Favorite: Lipscomb Bison

Current Favorite: Lipscomb Bison

Lipscomb secured a trip to their first ever NCAA tournament last season and it looks as if the will continue that run to the 2019 tournament. The Bison sit at 10-4 and have a win at TCU. Lipscomb could be challenged by Liberty and NJIT but ultimately should win the conference and be a scary first round matchup for any team in the tournament.

Big Sky

Preseason Favorite: Montana Grizzlies

Current Favorite: Montana Grizzlies

Nothing has changed here as Montana still looks to be in control of the Big Sky.

Big South

Preseason Favorite: Radford Highlanders

Current Favorite: Radford Highlanders

The Highlanders have wins at Notre Dame and at Texas but will still be challenged to win the conference as Gardner-Webb, and Winthrop will look to take the top spot.

Big West

Preseason Favorite: UC Irvine Anteaters

Current Favorite: UC Irvine Anteaters

The Anteaters have wins over Texas A&M and Saint Mary’s but will be challenged by UC Santa Barbara to win the Big West.

CAA

Preseason Favorite: Northeastern Huskies

Current Favorite: Charleston Cougars

Northeastern has struggled throughout the non-conference while Charleston excelled. Hofstra may also play into the race but the Charleston Cougars should win the conference.

Conference USA

Preseason Favorite: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

Current Favorite: Old Dominion Monarchs

Conference USA may e one of the most exciting conferences to watch as the top spot seems to be wide open. Western Kentucky, North Texas, and Marshall will all challenge Old Dominion for the top spot.

Horizon League

Preseason Favorite: Wright State Raiders

Current Favorite: Northern Kentucky Norse

It most likely will be a two team race between the Raiders and Norse with Northern Kentucky taken the top spot.

Ivy League

Preseason Favorite: Harvard Crimson

Current Favorite: Princeton Tigers

Four teams all have what it takes to win the Ivy this season. Harvard, Yale, Penn and Princeton will all be fighting for that top spot.

MAAC

Preseason Favorite: Rider Broncos

Current Favorite: Rider broncos

One of the weaker conferences this season the conference is open to anyone but Rider should be able to handle things through conference play.

MAC

Preseason Favorite: Buffalo Bulls

Current Favorite: Buffalo Bulls

There’s no challenging the Bulls in the MAC. If the Bulls happen to lose in the MAC tournament they will most likely still earn a bid to the big dance.

MEAC

Preseason Favorite: Bethune-Cookman Wildcats

Current Favorite: Bethune-Cookman Wildcats

No need to change away from the preseason favorite as no team in the MEAC has a record above .500.

Missouri Valley

Preseason Favorite: Loyola Ramblers

Current Favorite: Loyola Ramblers

Loyola struggled in the non-conference and is certainly not the same team they were last season but with the talent they have the Missouri Valley is theirs to win or lose.

Mountain West

Preseason Favorite: Nevada Wolfpack

Current Favorite: Nevada Wolfpack

The thought of an undefeated season is no longer around but the Wolfpack can now take that pressure off their shoulders  to move forward and win out the rest of the way.

Northeast

Preseason Favorite: St. Francis (PA) Red Flash

Current Favorite: St. Francis (PA) Red Flash

Nine teams look to have a chance to win the conference. The Red Flash should start using their tough non-conference to their advantage and start winning the games needed to make a run in the Northeast.

Ohio Valley

Preseason Favorite: Belmont Bruins

Current Favorite: Murray State Racers

The OVC will be a two team race between the Racers and the Bruins but with Ja Morant the Racers look to take charge.

Patriot League

Preseason Favorite: Lehigh Mountain Hawks

Current Favorite: Lehigh Mountain Hawks

Bucknell received more first place votes in the preseason but Lehigh barely beat them out. It should be a two team race from here on out.

Southern

Preseason Favorite: UNC Greensboro

Current Favorite: Wofford Terriers

This could be the most exciting mid-major conference as four teams have a legitimate chance to win the conference and wina game in the NCAA tournament. Wofford, Furman, UNC Greensboro, and East Tennessee State are all ready to make some noise.

Southland

Preseason Favorite: Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks

Current Favorite: Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks

Abilene Christian could give the Lumberjacks some trouble but it seems to be unlikely.

SWAC

Preseason Favorite: Grambling State Tigers

Current Favorite: Texas Southern Tigers

Texas SOuthern plays one of the most difficult non conference schedules and this year actually tallied wins at Baylor, Oregon, and Texas A&M.

Summit League

Preseason Favorite: South Dakota State Jackrabbits

Current Favorite: South Dakota State Jackrabbits

Only one thing is needed to be said for South Dakota State, Mike Daum.

Sun Belt

Preseason Favorite: Georgia State Panthers

Current Favorite: Georgia State Panthers

The Panthers don’t even look as if they will be challenged for this top spot.

WAC

Preseason Favorite: New Mexico State Aggies

Current Favorite: New Mexico State Aggies

It won’t be easy for the Aggies with Bakersfield and Grand Canyon right there in the mix.

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