The Monmouth Hawks became the first team this season to clinch the regular season conference championship with many more following this week.
While a regular season title doesn’t really guarantee you anything beyond a trip to the NIT, and there’s still work to do to reach the ultimate goal of the NCAA Tournament. it’s still meaningful in a lot of ways to a lot of schools.
For that reason, we decided that it’s time to take our second look at who has clinched a regular season title and who is close to doing so among the Forgotten 5 conferences.
Who has clinched:
- Monmouth: MAAC
- Belmont: Ohio Valley
- Gonzaga: West Coast Conference
- Bucknell: Patriot League
- Vermont: America East
- Middle Tennessee: Conference USA
- Florida Gulf Coast: Atlantic Sun
- Akron: Mid-American
- North Carolina Central: MEAC
- Mount St. Mary’s: Northeast
- CSU Bakersfield: WAC
- South Dakota: Summit
- UNC Wilmington: Colonial Athletic Association
- Ilinois State: Missouri Valley
- Winthrop: Big South
- Oakland: Horizon
So close they can taste it:
The Atlantic 10 looks much more clear after VCU (23-6, 13-3) could not get by Rhode Island. That puts Dayton (23-5, 14-2) in the driver’s seat for the top seed. Not so fast, my friend. Dayton and VCU will face off on March 1 with VCU needing a win to force a tiebreaker (that they own) and steal the regular season title at the last moment. Basically, sit tight and wait until the first day of March for the conference to settle.
North Dakota (18-8, 13-3) is on the verge of officially winning the Big Sky regular season title. Winning out over Sacramento State and Portland State (#7 and #8 in Big West Standings) will seal the deal. Eastern Washington (20-9, 12-4) can only win the Big Sky if UND loses out and they win out.
Princeton (19-6, 12-0) is on the verge of winning the Ivy League alone, but have to win one of two games down the stretch to get the top seed. They face #2 Harvard (18-7, 10-2) on March 3 and Dartmouth on March 4. A win in either game gives the Tigers the top seed for the first Ivy League tournament.
The Southern Conference is in East Tennessee State’s (24-6, 14-3) hands with one game remaining. The Buccaneers have clinched a share and will earn the top seed alone with a win over UNC Greensboro (22-8, 13-4). A loss to UNCG would give the Spartans the top seed in the tournament.
In the Sun Belt, UT Arlington (22-6, 12-3) has taken control and lead by two games in the loss column with three games remaining. All the Mavericks have to do it win one of three versus Troy, ULM, and ULL. Surely, UT Arlington can win one of those games and secure the top seed. The only scenario that would vault either Georgia team to the top would need UTA to lose all three remaining games.
Another week gives Texas Southern (17-11, 13-2) a chance to put the SWAC to sleep. They have struggled to do so in previous attempts, but all they need is two wins in their final three games of the regular season. They can even lose the upcoming head to head with Alcorn State (16-11, 13-3) and still earn the top seed. Nothing is a given, but the Tigers are in great shape.
Work left to do:
Another week has passed and the battle continues between SMU (25-4, 15-1) and Cincinnati (25-3, 14-1). The Mustangs currently sit at 15-1 and lead the Bearcats by 0.5 games. Both teams have a chance to go 17-1 in AAC play and tied at #1. For what it’s worth, Cincinnati leads the RPI race.
As everyone knows, UCF upset Cincinnati to make the path to the #1 seed much easier for SMU. Previously, SMU and Cincinnati were tied in every tiebreaker until either the RPI or a coin toss (because the AAC is weird). With the Bearcats loss, all SMU has to do is win at home versus Tulsa and Memphis. If the Mustangs stumble, the tiebreaker moves on to the next “best” loss in conference play. That tiebreaker would fall in favor of Cincinnati due to the higher AAC standing of UCF (4th) compared to either Memphis or Tulsa (both tied for 6th).
The Southland is almost ready for New Orleans (17-10, 12-4) to win, but they have to stop losing to bad teams. The Privateers would be the top seed already if they didn’t lose to a bad Northwestern State team last week. Wins over Southeast Louisiana and Nicholls would secure the top seed.
The Big West is officially down to UC Davis (18-11, 10-4) and UC Irvine (17-13, 10-4) with two games remaining. If both team win their penultimate games, they will head into the regular season finale with the winner getting the top seed. UC Davis won the first meeting 74-65. Irvine holds the higher RPI ranking.
Mountain West gets a separate category:
We have whittled the MWC race down to three teams at this point in the year. Nevada (23-6, 12-4) and Colorado State (20-9, 12-4) are tied for the lead with Boise State (18-9, 11-5) lying in wait one game back. Nevada swept Boise State, but has not faced Colorado State yet, while Boise State swept Colorado State.
What does that mean?
Ok, here we go.
Scenario #1: Nevada wins out. The Wolfpack get the top seed.
Scenario #2: Colorado State wins out. The Rams get the top seed.
Scenario #3: Colorado State loses to Wyoming, but beats Nevada. The Rams would then have a tiebreaker over Nevada, Nevada would have a tiebreaker over Boise State, and Boise State would have a tiebreaker over Colorado State. I think RPI would then come into play, giving Nevada the top seed.
Scenario #4: Wyoming loses to San Jose State, but beats Colorado State. Nevada would hold tiebreakers over Boise State and Colorado State, giving them the top seed.