Season 61 preview
American Southwest — Hardin-Simmons (sublightd) holds down the No. 2 preseason ranking and is the preseason favorite ahead of Texas Lutheran (blapo21), ranked eighth preseason. HS has been to three of the last four Final Four’s, including one national title.
Capital — Two human coaches, but both will be chasing Sim-coached Baptist Bible this season. Baptist has been Simmed since season 51, won consecutive conference titles in 56-58, but hasn’t danced since season 41.
Centennial — Ursinus (barjaz) has a streak of conference titles that started in season 47 and should add to it this season as they are clearly the cream of the Centennial crop heading into the year. Bigger question around Collegeville — can they get out of the rut of five straight second round NT exits?
CUNY — York (NY) has been on Sim since season 46. Last conference title, season 49. Last NT appearance, season 30! That could change this season as they’re the only team to really deserve national consideration from the league. Just one human coach in the conference.
CCIW — Martin Luther (kap_the_cub) is carrying two walk-ons this season, but I’ll give them a shaky nod of approval ahead of Illinois Wesleyan (unlikelyhero).
Coast — The discussion begins and ends with Wentworth (chewchad), which is clearly the class of the league this season. No surprise as chad has one of the most impressive streaks going in Rupp — conference titles every year since Season 27.
Commonwealth — Penn St. Altoona (frankgrimes1) is back and looking strong this season. It’s been four seasons since PSA’s national title, but the school has back to back Sweet 16’s and a No. 3 ranking in the preseason. Susquehanna (zeuspole) is the most likely spoiler.
Empire — Vassar (theriddler) gets the nod over Union (jtgraves) in what could be a good fight. Another impressive Rupp streak...the last time Vassar won fewer than 20 games was Season 17. That streak isn’t likely to end, but a cookie says the win total will be closer to 20 than 30 at years end.
Freedom — It’ll be a four-way scramble atop the Freedom, but I’ll say the humanity of Scranton (artie40) will win out over immed challengers PS-B, Frostburg and Drew. No NT appearance by Scranton since Season 38.
GNE — There’s a national title threepeat hopeful in Johnson & Wales (spasticity) but first they’ll have to get out of a loaded GNE where they won’t even be the favorite. That honor goes to Newbury this year (dinosaur). After missing the NT for the first time in nine years a season ago, Newbury will be significantly improved this time around. They’d better be, no fewer than six teams are hot on their heels with the potential to play spoiler. led by Albertus Magnus, Rivier and, yes, JW.
Heartland — Defiance (carl3298) holds a comfortable enough edge over the rest of the league that a seventh consecutive conference banner can probably be safely ordered this season. Defiance hasn’t lost a home game the last two seasons.
Iowa — After eight years in retirement, rblank57 comes back to Rupp and steps in at a potential national championship contender at Dubuque. He’s the third coach in as many years, but the team was an Elite Eight squad a season ago.
Little East -- It looks to be a down season in the Little East this year with the exception of E. Connecticut St. (cjones4mvp), who stays aboard at ECSU after a 24-6 campaign last season that missed extending the school's streak of 25+ win seasons by one victory. Nice to see someone finally resisting the pull of the revolving door at that program.
Michigan -- The Michigan has lost humans, but remains a tight battle for the top spot. I'll give the preseason edge by a whisker to Eureka (usjgt) ahead of Kalamazoo (boobyknight). Eureka failed last season in its bid for a PIT championship threepeat, getting knocked out in the second round, but has another streak going this year. With a conference title, usjgt will make it a straight decade of league banners hanging in the gymnasium.
Midwest -- Rose Hulman (nachopuzzle) has scared off all the human competition, meaning RHIT should roll through league play once more. Grinnell is the only thing vaguely resembling a speed bump here. Nacho should cruise to his ninth consecutive NT appearance.
Minnesota -- St. Scholastica (sgaffey2) has won just three games the past two seasons combined and hasn't won a league game since Season 58, but that should all change this year as St. Scholastica should make a dramatic vault up the conference table to the top dog's spot. The team likely won't be an impact player on the national scene, but it should handle the other 11 Sim-coached schools in the Minny with regularity.
NESCAC — Connecticut (rwright) gets the nod as lead dog in what could be a tight race for second position. Under rwright’s leadership, Conn has advanced to three consecutive NT’s, including back-to-back second round exits.
New Jersey — Only one human in the league this season, and he’s got his work cut out for him. On the other end of the spectrum, Rutgers at Camden, which is Sim for the first time in seven seasons, should be the frontrunner.
North Atlantic — The league that surprised a lot of folks with its national tournament presence last season failed to attract humans. Johnson State is the only human-owned team. They’ll likely be in the mix, but my guess for the leader in what could be a five-team chase, is Lasell, which is entering its 11th season as a Sim and whose last NT appearance was Season 38.
NCAC — By the slimmest of margins, give the preseason favorite label to Denison (dereksilcox). He’ll be fighting to stay ahead of a flock of W’s in Wooster, Wabash and Wittenberg. Denison is trying to break a six-year national tournament drought on campus.
Northwest — Whitworth (tim_buggie) should fight a spirited battle throughout the season to stay atop the league. Willamette is the most likely challenger, but Chapman and Whitman also have roles to play. The last league banner in Spokane for Whitworth was Season 56.
Ohio — Capital (buckeye101) gets my favorite’s nod by a nose ahead of John Carroll. Others will also have a say in who comes out on top eventually. Buckeye101 has been on the bench in Columbus since Season 45, give him his set of steak knives.
ODAC — Lynchburg (barney1974) has four consecutive conference championships to his credit. He’s my favorite to pull in a fifth, but the battle will be tight against Sim schools Bridgewater and Virginia Wesleyan.
Penn — Once again, the Penn is an all-Sim conference. Oh, the inhumanity! Misericorida is the pick here to go back-to-back on conference titles and NT appearances. This marks a quarter century — 25 seasons — that humans have rejected the chance to coach at the school.
Skyline — US Merchant Marines (lynchmob1414) is still the pick, but there’s not much difference this season between UMMA and SUNY, Maritime. The two schools should have a nice battle this year in a conference that’s become rather strong in just a short number of years.
SoCal — The Southern Cal keeps getting to be more fun by the season as well. There’s good balance atop the league this year, so it could be a wild race. For my pick, I’ll take CSU, Eastbay (tedlukacs) by a whisker over a ranked Whittier side. Many others have the potential to factor in with a couple good nights at the right time. Eastbay has back-to-back Sweet 16s.
St. Louis — Webster (mschulte24) by a nose ahead of Westminster (MO) in the St. Louis. I think Webster’s getting hosed by not carrying a preseason ranking, but that’s just my ballot. The school is going for its third consecutive conference titles and NT appearances.
SUNY — I’ll go with New Paltz by a smidge ahead of Oneonta in the race for SUNY supremacy. New Paltz is Sim coached and has been since Season 37. They’ll be going for their first conference title and NT appearance in four years.
University — Millsaps (brianxavier) holds the No. 1 ranking in the preseason polls, but I’m honestly not convinced they’re the best team in the league. Get the thumbtacks ready for the bulletin board, but Trinity(TX) (bobmeyer) is right there. I’ll give the slimest of edges to Millsaps due to the speed advantage when the match up. The X-man is working on a streak of seven years in the Sweet 16 or better.
Upstate — Brandeis (lhrr) and New York U. (avyncke) should have a spirited battle for the top spot, but I’ll pick Brandeis to finish on top when the smoke settles. Should the succeed, it would be the first title in three years for the traditionally strong program.
USA South — For the first time in probably a while, the favorite in the USA South isn’t Greensboro. If you want the top spot in Season 61, the road to the title goes through Palm Beach Atlantic (osgoniz). In his third season at the helm, PBA broke through for a championship banner and NT appearance. This year, both those should return and the win total should climb above 22 wins.
Wisconsin — Whitewater (parrott71) gets my nod as favorite. Whitewater has gone five years without a conference title. The wait for an NT berth has been even longer, dating back to Season 42. Parrott’s in his fourth season, coming off a 14-13 campaign last year.
Thank you everyone for your patience -- let the discussions begin!!