Here's the first part of the season rundown. Will try to get part 2 out before my team hits the road today and I wind up out of computer range for most of the day.
ASC — Texas Lutheran (blapo21) is the preseason No. 1 team in the nation for a reason. Blapo21 has made the Elite Eight in three of the last five years but is out to avenge a first round exit last season.
Capital — Catholic (shineenihs) is the frontrunner in the league but sits in the hands of a first-year coach. Marymount is the closest challenger if they stumble.
Centennial — Ursinus (barjaz) gets the nod for another year. Two years removed from a PIT title, Ursinus returned to the NT last year and reached the second round.
CUNY — Brooklyn (seanweber) was 14-14 last season, but should be the team to chase. There’s a number of sim programs close behind, but here’s thinking the human factor will help tip the scales in Brooklyn’s favor.
CCIW — Martin Luther (albatross1) only went 26-4 in the bird’s first season, qualifying for the NT in the process. Illinois Wesleyan is the closest challenger, but sports a 10-man roster and a new head coach, so I’ll throw my lot behind ML this season.
Coast — Endicott (SImAI) looks the best on paper, but never count out Wentworth (chewchad). Nobody in the league has a defense of higher than 36 or an Ath rating of 38 so I expect a lot of points will be scored vs. this conference this season.
Commonwealth — Susquehanna (zeuspole) have gone two years without winning a conference title. That drought should end this season as they begin with the No. 11 ranking.
Empire — It looks like a virtual coinflip between Union (jtgraves) and Vassar (theriddler). I’ll choose heads, go with Union, then wait for Vassar to prove me wrong in the CT.
Freedom — Drew (SimAI) isn’t the best team in the league in terms of ratings, but has captured the last two conference titles and, in my opinion, will be the top team standing at season’s end. Drew has been without a human coach since Season 36.
GNE — After a down year that saw just five teams in the NT, the Evil Empire swings back with six ranked teams in the preseason. That list is headlined by returning champ Johnson & Wales (spasticity), who should once again be among the national elite.
Heartland — Defiance (nm1brownsfan) gets the pick by a nod over Mt. St. Joseph (cokeman). Both are new head coaches at their programs, but Defiance has been to the last two national championship games.
Iowa — Cornell (jjmilleriu) gets the nod over last year’s juggernaut Buena Vista. Cornell has been clockwork good for 20+ wins for a number of seasons.
LIttle East — UMass, Dartmouth (westcoast) roars into the season with a No. 4 ranking and a loaded roster. In four seasons, wooden has UMD looking like a major player on the national scene, stealing the spotlight from the directional Connecticut State schools.
Michigan — Calvin (prc56) is the frontrunner in the Michigan. He’s going for his 10th consecutive year of 20+ wins at the helm.
Midwest — It won’t be a league that moves and shakes nationally this season, but it could be a good conference race with several teams very close to each other in terms of strength sitting atop the league. I’ll throw my weight behind Beloit.
MInnesota — St. Olaf (SimAI) gets the nod ahead of Hamline and St. John’s in another race that could be exciting to watch, but won’t get the winner a high seed in the NT.
NESCAC — Bates (boilerblack) is ranked in the preseason and could be set to take a huge leap in the third season under the head coach, who is looking for his first NT at the program. Overall, the top teams in the NESCAC don’t look too shabby.