Conference Power Rankings (Cont.)
OCW: Belmont's arrival should create a great 1-2 battle in the league ... assuming Tennessee State doesn't wreck that party. Great individual talents fleck a number of rosters in the league.
DCW: The pecking order looks solidly intact. Murray State and Belmont are both solid, if not great. The Bruins' dossier would look better without the huge cave-in against Northeastern in Alaska, and if they ever can grab a defensive rebound again. Murray State hosts the Bruins in the only regular-season meeting, so advantage Racers. Tennessee State has been a little disappointing thus far, albeit against a very challenging schedule.
OCW: The Zombie Conference lives! At least for this season. Then who knows, when multiple teams depart. The Battle of the Aggies will rage for one more year. Utah State is the favorite. New Mexico State and newcomer Denver will challenge.
DCW: The Zombie Conference is trying to stay alive by grabbing every piece of flotsam it can find, including inviting for-profit Division II Grand Canyon University. With all due respect to the Antelopes, morphing into a downscale proxy of the Great West is not a good look. That same phrase can describe New Mexico State and (especially) Denver so far this season as both have underachieved. Utah State looks like the clear favorite.
OCW: With VCU gone and Old Dominion banned, the auto bid will be contested between Drexel and George Mason. Don't ignore Delaware, though. They'll get early buzz by winning the Virginia bracket of the NIT Season Tip-Off and advancing to MSG.
DCW: Well, the Blue Hens did win the Virginia subregional and almost took out Kansas State at the Garden. Everything else has pretty much been a disaster. Drexel is one of the biggest disappointments in the nation. This was clearly a one-bid league three weeks into the season. That's really bad.
OCW: Middle Tennessee State is the class of the league. North Texas, with Tony Mitchell, will challenge. Last season's miracle auto-bid winner, Western Kentucky, also brings back some talent.
DCW: MTSU remains the clear best team in the league. Western Kentucky has looked OK. North Texas has been disappointing. South Alabama is out to a 2-0 league start along with the Blue Raiders.
OCW: With Oral Roberts gone to the Southland, this is now South Dakota State's league to lose. Oakland and North Dakota State are probably the biggest threats to the Jackrabbits.
DCW: Pretty much verbatim. As long as Nate Wolters is healthy (unlike Tuesday night at Minnesota), the Jackrabbits are a strong favorite. NDSU probably is the best bet to unseat them.
OCW: Should be a transitional year for the league, with a number of teams dropping off of last year's strong standard. Princeton is favored after Harvard lost Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry as part of a university-wide academic scandal.
DCW: Princeton is still probably the favorite, but Harvard has looked pretty strong, led by freshman point guard Siyani Chambers. Columbia (won by 18 at Villanova) lurks as a legitimate title dark horse.
OCW: This is Davidson's league to lose. College of Charleston is the obvious challenger. Georgia Southern appears to be the most logical dark horse.
DCW: If you ignore that part about George Southern, this is a correct assessment. The Wildcats are easily the best team in the league. The bottom half of the league looks really weak.
OCW: LIU is the presumptive favorite, but Robert Morris and Wagner return stacked rosters, too. Quinnipiac should be tough again and Monmouth appears to be on the rise under King Rice. This should be an excellent conference race and tournament for the auto bid.
DCW: The whole league has started off slower than expected, but the best teams still look like they will be the best teams and Monmouth definitely is making some noise. Robert Morris, with a strong win at Ohio, may be the slight favorite at this stage.
OCW: The league should be down a little bit. Long Beach State should still be the class. UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton may be the best bets to challenge.
DCW: It's hard to tell what Long Beach State will end up being until they get several transfers eligible in a couple of weeks, but they should win the league. Irvine and Fullerton have lived up to billing and Pacific is looking friskier than expected in Bob Thomason's final season on the bench.
OCW: Belmont's departure leaves Mercer as the favorite. They'll be challenged by USC Upstate. Florida Gulf Coast could continue its upward ascent. Lipscomb could be a sleeper after an almost complete roster overhaul.
DCW: This all looks pretty solid still. I still like Mercer as the slight favorite, although KenPom picks Upstate at this stage.
OCW: Vermont should be a pretty strong favorite. Stony Brook and Boston U. were hit by departures. The Seawolves still could mount a challenge.
DCW: Vermont's been as advertised. Stony Brook has been better than advertised. Albany (a win at Washington) has been much better than advertised. It could be a much more interesting league season than expected.
OCW: Oral Roberts joins the conference and should be the strong favorite. Stephen F. Austin, Northwestern State and McNeese State could have something to say about the title race.
DCW: If you believe KenPom, I had the four contenders correct, but the magnitude of Oral Roberts' favorite status has dwindled significantly. Unbeaten (only three D-I wins, but still), defensively stingy Stephen F. Austin is making an early statement of intent. I'd still take the Golden Eagles.
OCW: Montana is the odds-on favorite to repeat as league champ, but the Grizzlies need to get guard Will Cherry (broken foot) healthy. The presumed challenger is Weber State, even sans Damian Lillard.
DCW: Those look like the two best teams and it's impossible to know the size of the gap between the two until Cherry comes back and plays a few games.
OCW: The league is really up for grabs. Asheville, Coastal Carolina, Charleston Southern and VMI all have a chance to win it. Coastal hosts the conference tourney, so they're the pick for the auto bid.
DCW: The league will be a mess. KenPom has seven teams projected between 9-7 and 12-4. So far, this has been an awful league offensively. Only Charleston Southern is even at one point per possession for the season.
OCW: Savannah State returns the whole group from the shocking regular-season champs. Last year's NCAA Cinderella, Norfolk State, probably will drop a step after losing Kyle O'Quinn in the middle. Delaware State may be the most logical challenger.
DCW: The slow and stingy Tigers still look like the best team in the league. They were very competitive against solid nonconference foes and sport an extremely rare offensive (horrible)/defensive (excellent) points-per-possession split. That said, they lost their league opener at home to Norfolk State, an early statement of intent from the Spartans.
OCW: With graduation, APR issues and postseason bans continuing to riddle the league, who knows. Prairie View A&M is the nominal pick.
DCW: Prairie View has played decently and picked up two legitimate D-I wins, including one against Houston. Texas Southern has shown some potential, especially in the double OT loss at Colorado.
OCW: In what appears to be the final season for this "scheduling consortium," Utah Valley is the likely favorite.
DCW: NJIT is staking a claim to nominal league favorite, but KenPom has all five league members finishing between 3-5 and 5-3 at this point. More important is finding greener (auto-bid) pastures for next season. Utah Valley and UTPA (WAC), and Houston Baptist (Southland) are already on their way.