Monday, October 16, 2006

Preseason Picks

We are 3 weeks away from the start of yet another awesome season of college hoops. Check back here over the next week as I unveil my conference champs and Field of 65.

America East
The Regular Season Champ: Albany

The Rest (from best to worst): Vermont, UNH, Binghamton, Maine, Stony Brook, UMBC, BU, Hartford

Quick Take: Albany brings back 3 starters including the conference POY, Jamar Wilson, from a team that nearly became the first 16 seed to beat a 1. They receive challenges from Vermont, UNH, and Binghamton who with one win can take the auto bid away.


A-Sun
The Champ: Belmont

The Rest: Campbell, Lipscomb, Stetson, East Tennessee St., Gardner-Webb, Jacksonville, North Florida, Kennesaw St., Mercer

Quick Take: Belmont returns Justin Hare who was the A-Sun tournament MVP last year who also led the team in PPG. Campbell should give them the most trouble in this wide-open league as they may be the best running team in this running conference. Don't count out Lipscomb or Stetson either.


A-10
The Champ: Xavier

The Rest: GW, UMass, St. Louis, Charlotte, Fordham, Dayton, St. Joe's, Rhode Island, Richmond, Temple, La Salle, St. Bonaventure, Duquesne

Quick Take: Xavier's starting lineup includes 4 players who averaged over 9 points and a McDonald's All-American. This 21-win team will be in the dance one way or another. GW loses a ton of offense and talent but returns Carl Elliott. GW will take a hit but still has a good chance at an at-large. UMass transfers in a ton of talent but can they finally live up to expectations and produce an at-large bid?


Big Sky
The Champ: Northern Arizona

The Rest: Eastern Washington, Montana, Portland St., Sacramento St., Northern Colorado, Weber St., Montana St., Idaho St.

Quick Take: With the majority of the league rebuilding, Northern Arizona should have no problems repeating last year's success as they return 4 starters. Eastern Washington and Montana will give Northern Arizona some problems but Northern Arizona will be dancing this time.


Big South
The Champ: Winthrop

The Rest: Coastal Carolina, High Point, Radford, Charleston Southern, UNC Asheville, Liberty, VMI

Quick Take: Winthrop is easily the class of the league as usual. Coastal Carolina is the only team who even remotely stands in the way of the Eagles going dancing for the 3rd consecutive season.


Big West
The Champ: Long Beach St.

The Rest: UC Irvine, Cal Poly, Pacific, CS Fullerton, UCSB, CS Northridge, UC Riverside

Quick Take: The 49ers return their key players from last year's third place team while the Top 2 Big West teams (Pacific and UC Irvine) each took a hit. UC Irvine has talent but its cobbled together from a bunch of different places and team chemistry might outweigh the talent. Cal Poly is young but probably has the best chance to beat LBSU when it matters.


CAA
The Champ: Hofstra

The Rest: UNC Wilmington, George Mason, ODU, Towson, Drexel, VCU, Northeastern, James Madison, Delaware, William & Mary, Georgia St.

Quick Take: Hofstra brings back its top 3 scorers from a 26 win team. Wilmington returns their leading scorer to defend its championship and still has what it takes to make a run at an at-large bid. Mason coming off its magical Final 4 run loses its Top 3 scorers but returns pretty much everyone else and adds some good newcomers. The CAA has a good chance at an at-large bid or two.


C-USA
The Champ: Memphis

The Rest: Houston, UAB, UTEP, SMU, Rice, UCF, Tulsa, Tulane, Marshall, Southern Miss, East Carolina

Quick Take: Memphis is still easily the best team even after losing 3 NBA players. They still have a lot of talent and could make a Sweet 16 run. Houston and UAB both look like potential at-large teams and they bring back several significant players from last year’s squads.


Horizon
The Champ: Wright St.

The Rest: Wisconsin-GB, Loyola-Chi, Illinois-Chi, Detroit, Butler, Youngstown St., Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Cleveland St.

Quick Take: The Panthers losing most of their rotation to graduation over the past two years opens the door for another team to claim the crown. Wright St. returns pretty much everyone to a team that went 8-8 in conference last year. The league though is wide open with anyone from the Raiders to Butler having a chance to emerge victorious.

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