Here we go...hot off the presses the conference picks for this season!!
ASC — Hardin-Simmons (sublightd) missed out on a conference banner last season, but managed to extend his streak of Round 2 or better NT appearances to 10 straight years. I’ll call them by a nose ahead of Texas Lutheran, who also looks good preseason.
Capital — Catholic (shineenihs) has won 20 or more games in each of the coach’s first three seasons at the helm but has just one conference title to show for it. This should be shine’s second, but St. Mary’s could have a thing or two to say about that.
Centennial — Ursinus (barjaz) nade a first-round exit in this year’s national tournament. This year, he’s back with a vengeance and loaded with a roster that could contend for a national title. Beware Carl Oliveira as Ursinus goes for a fifth straight undefeated run in league play.
CUNY — Brooklyn (SimAI) hasn’t won anything since Season 51 and hasn’t played in the postseason since then either. At least the former will change this year, although CCNY, also simmed, might play upstart.
CCIW — Northland (raucous) gets my nod ahead of Martin Luther and Illinois Wesleyan. The 31 team defense rating concerns me a bit, but Northland is looking for its fourth straight NT trip, so I trust raucous to know what he’s doing here.
Coast — It’s the Coast, so we have to talk about Wentworth (chewchad) here. With a walk-on showing, Wentworth is ranked No. 7 preseason and has gone unbeaten in this league 3 of the last 4 years. If anyone’s going to jeopardize that becoming 4 out of 5, it’s Colby-Sawyer.
Commonwealth — Defending national champion Penn St. Altoona resides here and is ranked No. 16 preseason. My apologies, but I’m calling the race to Susquehanna (zeuspole) which is No. 20 preseason and looking for its fifth straight trip to at least the Sweet 16.
Empire — Vassar (theriddler) ran the table last year and could well do so again, although Utica needs to be studied closely. Vassar’s looking for a third straight league win and a second consecutive 16-0 campaign.
Freedom — The whole league starts with sub-500 team ratings this year, so it could be a rough go. Carnegie Mellon (SimAI) is the best of the lot on paper to me. They’re looking to build on a 5-22 campaign and haven’t done anything since Season 59.
GNE — They’re writing the obituary for the Evil Empire over in the University Conference. Johnson & Wales (spasticity) would beg to differ. After switching up offensive schemes last season in response to a horrifying 20-9 campaign that saw the school go home after only the second round of hte national tournament, the JW juggernaut looks primed. That No. 18 preseason ranking is weak sauce. This is top 10 material all the way.
Heartland — Defiance (nm1brownsfan) is permanently etched in this position on my previews until someone decides to beat them in league play. Incidentally, that hasn’t happened in six seasons. Will it be a Magnificent Seven? It’s hard to see why not.
Iowa — Discussion in the Iowa this season begins and ends with Buena Vista (westcoast22), which is more loaded than Lindsey Lohan after 5 p.m. on a weekend. About the only thing missing from westcoast’s resume at the school is a national championship game appearance. This may well be teh year for that.
Little East — Fans at UMass, Dartmouth are anxious to return to the back-to-back 31-win seasons of not that long ago, and they’ve brought in pureh21, who owns a .693 win percentage across 27 HD seasons to do it. East Connecticut St, another program looking for a return to the glory days of not very long ago, should provide the toughest challenge.
Michigan — It’s hard to pick against Calvin in this spot, but Eureka (usjgt) has the tools to take the league this season. This is traditionally a solid club, but fans haven’t seen an NT win in a decade and the school has been one-and-done in the postseason the last four years. The natives are getting restless in Eureka...
Midwest — Rose Hulman Tech (strang) has won 12+ league games every year since tagging in four seasons ago for the legendary nachopuzzle, but only has one conference banner to show for it and no postseason appearances. I’ll give him the nod to change that this time around as he comes off a 19-10 season a year ago.
Minnesota — Hamline (foofighter13) is 50-34 in three seasons under the coach, but has no national tournament appearance to show for it. That should change this season as Hamline is the only school in the league that believes in defense. With seven of 12 schools rated 26 or below for team defense, bet the over in the Minnesota all season long.
NESCAC — Tufts (zmark513) posted a 16-0 mark last season in league play, but could have its work cut out for it trying for the back-to-back. Even if they don’t get that, there’s plenty to gun for as zmark tries for 10 consecutive league titles this season.
New Jersey — Montclair St. (bigpapamatt) went 23-5 last season, but had nothing to show for it as there was no league banner and no postseason invitation to show for it. This is a program that’s grown by leaps and bounds since a 2-25 welcoming campaign for the coach. Will this be the payoff year?
North Atlantic — I’m not sure Johnson St. (yomomma8588) is the best team in this conference, but since my frontrunner Castleton St. is simmed, I’ll say the human element tips the balance of power to Johnson St. and the North Atlantic can once again resume its mantle as Johnson St. and the Nobodies this season.
NCAC — Ohio Wesleyan (otownaron) is in his eighth season at OWU. Missing in that tenure is a league title and national tournament appearance, despite a pair of 20-win campaigns. At No. 19 preseason, this is by far his best crew assembled to date. He also catches the typical NCAC contenders in a bit of a recycle season, so let’s say breaktrhough in Delaware, Ohio, this time around.
Northwest — Willamette (bullman17) is coming off a 25-5 campaign and now gets a preseason top 10 ranking to show for bullman’s impressive tenure. I’m really trying to figure out how Chapman, under new skipper coachuk (.770 in 26 seasons of HD) isn’t ranked at all, much less outside of the top 15-20 where I think they belong.
Ohio — John Carroll (whit6r) is no stranger to league titles and this year begins his quest for a fifth straight. Capital could say something about that quest though.
ODAC — Emory and Henry (meme4574) has four straight 20-win seasons, but only two produced league titles. This is meme’s 10th season at the helm in Emory, he’s come a long way from a 4-23 start. Traditional power Lynchburg will have the most to say about EH’s success.
Penn — Another league that will not be setting benchmarks for defense this season. I’ll call Cabrini (SimAI) by a whisker over a simmed Marywood. Depending on how much second-year coach hgq2112 at Babson learned his first year, they could compete as well.
Skyline — Old Westbury (tubby13) gets my nod ahead of traditional power US Merchant Marines. If he proves me right, it’ll be Old Westbury’s first title since Season 55.
So. Cal. — Whittier (windixies) is ranked only No. 4, but I’m not sure there’s three teams better as this crew looks stacked. This is hardly a program that’s a stranger to success, but believe it or not, a league title would be the school’s first in three years.
St. Louis — Another team I can just ink in permanentlly until proven wrong, Webster (mschulte24) probably isn’t strong enough to make major waves nationally this season, but the team is as close to a lock as a person can get for a fourth straight league banner and, probably, a third consecutive 16-0.
SUNY — SUNY Potsdam (SimAI) is the only school starting over 500 in team rating. They’re coming off back-to-back 6-22 seasons, but who cares. In a league where 10 of 12 schools have defensive ratings in tne 20s, this is enough of a team to score the banner.
University — Millsaps (brianxavier) was not happy with its national championship game performance last season, but a preseason No. 1 ranking for, I believe, the second straight year returns the bullseye to Ja-Ja-Jackson, Mississippi (a river runnin’...bonus points for anyone who gets the reference). Millsaps has back-to-back Final Four appearances and could be on their way back again.
Upstate — Case Western (SimAI) gets my nod in a downish league this season. Considering the team hasn’t hung a regular season baner since Season 37, they’re certainly overdue here.
USA South — Greensboro (tilldog28) is only a year removed from a national title and is going for his ninth straight league banner. Don’t be surprised if he’s got both at year’s end.
Wisconsin — Superior (cbryant31) won it last season in this league and gets my tag to win it again this season after going 23-7 overall and 14-2 in conference play. Entering year three at the helm of the program, he’s preseason top 10 material according to the polls. We’ll see if that’s too high come season’s end.