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The Conference Races -- 2008
Publication Date: May 9, 2008
The Annual "Pay Attention" Column
I find myself somewhat conflicted about the conference races. They're valuable, in the same way that the CWS is valuable; it's a championship. On the other hand, a lot of folks, the selection committee unfortunately among them, misunderstand that it's a championship and not a determination of who's the best team overall, so those one- or two-game swings that can come up in a limited number of games get overcounted. Nonetheless, these things should be regarded highly (conference regular season championships, not the stupid but fun conference tournaments), so let's take a look.
W L GB Remaining Miami, Florida 20 2 - @Virginia Tech, North Carolina Florida State 22 5 0.5 North Carolina State North Carolina 18 5 2.5 @Virginia, @Miami, Florida North Carolina State 15 8 5.5 @Maryland, @Florida State
Now, this comes down to a great race between three good teams -- probably two great teams and one really good one, but the nature of these things is that the really good team still has a small chance of stealing it away. The Miami-FSU and UNC-FSU series were basically both about as close as a three-game series can get, so this has been a fun one. The only minor quibble to make is that, while it doesn't reach the level yet of calling for the conference to step in, there probably needs to be some peer pressure put on Miami to better manage the curfew situation.
W L GB Remaining Stony Brook 11 5 - Maryland-Baltimore County, @Albany Binghamton 10 6 1 @Hartford, Maine Maryland-Baltimore County 11 9 2 @Stony Brook Hartford 8 8 3 Binghamton, Vermont Vermont 7 9 4 Maine, @Hartford Maine 6 10 5 @Vermont, @Binghamton Albany 7 13 6 Stony Brook
Obviously, not all of these are still in it, but with all of these scheduled as four-game series, there's still a good bit of possibility here.
W L GB Remaining North Carolina-Charlotte 15 7 - Richmond, Rhode Island Duquesne 14 7 0.5 St. Louis, @Dayton Xavier 14 7 0.5 @Fordham, George Washington Rhode Island 12 8 2 Massachusetts, @North Carolina-Charlotte Temple 12 9 2.5 Dayton, @St. Louis St. Bonaventure 11 10 3.5 @St. Joseph's, @Richmond Dayton 10 11 4.5 @Temple, Duquesne George Washington 10 11 4.5 @LaSalle, @Xavier Fordham 10 11 4.5 Xavier, @Massachusetts Massachusetts 9 12 5.5 @Rhode Island, Fordham
I'm still not sure how Charlotte hasn't run away with this one, but none of their closest competitors have a clean shot at them now, so they're fairly safe.
W L GB Remaining Florida Gulf Coast 21 6 - East Tennessee State, @South Carolina-Upstate Lipscomb 17 11 4.5 Mercer, @Campbell Kennesaw State 16 11 5 North Florida, @Jacksonville North Florida 15 12 6 @Kennesaw State, @Gardner-Webb
Welcome to Division I; try not to drip on the carpet. Oh, and here's a banner to remember us by. Very few changes in the game have come as fast as the rebuilding of the A-Sun.
W L GB Remaining Texas A&M 18 3 - @Nebraska, @Texas, Texas Nebraska 15 5 2.5 Texas A&M, @Missouri Oklahoma State 14 7 4 Texas Tech, Oklahoma
They'll basically settle this on in Lincoln this weekend, although the Big 12 has been prone to last weekend goofiness the last few years, so anything is possible.
W L GB Remaining St. John's 16 5 - South Florida, @Villanova Notre Dame 15 6 1 Pittsburgh, @South Florida Cincinnati 14 7 2 @Seton Hall, West Virginia Louisville 13 8 3 @West Virginia, Rutgers Seton Hall 13 8 3 Cincinnati, @Georgetown West Virginia 11 10 5 Louisville, @Cincinnati South Florida 10 11 6 @St. John's, Notre Dame
Louisville left their move a little late, so the likely path is that St. John's coasts in. There are a lot of top-vs-bottom matchups left, which is unfortunate.
W L GB Remaining Coastal Carolina 12 3 - High Point, @Radford Liberty 12 6 1.5 High Point Virginia Military 11 7 2.5 Charleston Southern High Point 8 7 4 @Coastal Carolina, @Liberty Winthrop 8 7 4 Radford, @North Carolina-Asheville
Another case where the clear favorite hasn't pulled away; CCU will probably put it away this weekend, though.
W L GB Remaining Michigan 20 4 - @Minnesota, Northwestern Purdue 17 7 3 Michigan State, @Illinois Illinois 14 10 6 @Ohio State, Purdue
Eight games left, so anything is possible, but Michigan hasn't really been challenged often in the league this year.
W L GB Remaining Cal State Fullerton 13 5 - Cal Poly, @Long Beach State UC Riverside 10 5 1.5 UC Davis, @UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly Long Beach State 9 6 2.5 UC Santa Barbara, @Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton UC Santa Barbara 9 6 2.5 @Long Beach State, UC Riverside, @UC Irvine UC Davis 9 6 2.5 @UC Riverside, UC Irvine, @Cal State Northridge UC Irvine 8 7 3.5 Pacific, @UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara Cal Poly 6 9 5.5 @Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State, @UC Riverside
Long way to go here. The interesting parts right now involve the upsidedownness of Irvine and Riverside and whether that "rights" itself, since that has some interesting postseason implications.
W L GB Remaining Rice 15 3 - Houston, @Tulane Tulane 10 6 4 @East Carolina, Rice Houston 11 7 4 @Rice, Marshall Southern Mississippi 11 7 4 Memphis, @Alabama-Birmingham East Carolina 11 7 4 Tulane, @Memphis
Ya' 'member that brief moment after the USM series when they looked vulnerable?
W L GB Remaining North Carolina-Wilmington 20 3 - @James Madison, Old Dominion James Madison 18 5 2 North Carolina-Wilmington, @Northeastern William and Mary 16 8 4.5 Northeastern, @George Mason
This weekend at JMU will settle this one; having the favorite on the road makes it at least somewhat interesting.
W L GB Remaining Illinois-Chicago 11 5 - @Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Cleveland State, Valparaiso Wright State 13 6 -0.5 Youngstown State, Cleveland State Cleveland State 9 7 2 @Wright State, @Illinois-Chicago, @Butler Youngstown State 10 9 2.5 @Wright State, @Valparaiso, @Wisconsin-Milwaukee Valparaiso 7 9 4 Youngstown State, @Butler, @Illinois-Chicago Wisconsin-Milwaukee 7 12 5.5 Illinois-Chicago, Butler, Youngstown State
There's some odd scheduling going on here, with some of these matchups being makeup doubleheaders to correct for the fact that it snows in this area a lot, which means there could be some pretty big one-day swings as this one comes down to the wire.
W L GB Remaining Dartmouth 15 5 - Columbia 15 5 -
Columbia won the series, so they're the first NCAA qualifier.
W L GB Remaining Canisius 14 4 - @Fairfield, @Niagara Manhattan 13 5 1 St. Peter's, @Fairfield Fairfield 11 7 3 Canisius, Manhattan Rider 12 9 3.5 @St. Peter's Siena 10 8 4 Iona, @Marist
Interesting chance for Fairfield to play kingmaker here, in addition to their own chances; it leaves this as an interesting race to watch.
W L GB Remaining Eastern Michigan 12 6 - Toledo, @Central Michigan Kent State 12 6 - @Akron, @Miami, Ohio Ball State 11 7 1 Northern Illinois, @Toledo Northern Illinois 12 9 1.5 @Ball State, Western Michigan Bowling Green State 10 8 2 Buffalo, @Akron Central Michigan 11 9 2 Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan Akron 7 8 3.5 Kent State, Bowling Green State Toledo 8 10 4 @Eastern Michigan, Ball State Western Michigan 8 10 4 @Central Michigan, @Northern Illinois Ohio 9 12 4.5 Miami, Ohio, @Buffalo
The schedule probably favors Kent State a bit here.
W L GB Remaining Bethune-Cookman 17 1 -
They thoroughly ran away from what is, this year, the country's worst conference.
W L GB Remaining Wichita State 14 4 - @Evansville, Bradley Missouri State 16 5 -0.5 @Northern Iowa Creighton 13 8 2.5 Indiana State Northern Iowa 11 7 3 @Bradley, Missouri State Bradley 9 9 5 Northern Iowa, @Wichita State
With Wichita as a pretty clear at large team and Missouri State not, this race takes on all sort of overtones -- will the committee take an otherwise safe Wichita team if they finish second in the regular season and don't win the tournament?
W L GB Remaining Texas Christian 16 5 - @New Mexico New Mexico 13 5 1.5 @Nevada-Las Vegas, Texas Christian San Diego State 15 7 1.5 @Brigham Young
It's not over, but you can see it from here. New Mexico has never really been able to turn the high-altitude aspects of their park into a solid home field advantage, but it couldn't hurt to be home to finish out, especially if they can pull to within a game in Vegas this weekend.
W L GB Remaining Monmouth 16 4 - Fairleigh Dickinson, @Long Island Central Connecticut State 14 6 2 Wagner, @Fairleigh Dickinson Wagner 13 7 3 @Central Connecticut State, Sacred Heart Mount St. Mary's 10 9 5.5 Long Island, @Quinnipiac Sacred Heart 8 12 8 Quinnipiac, @Wagner
You'll notice that neither of Monmouth's remaining opponents are on this list, so it's probably about over.
W L GB Remaining Jacksonville State 17 4 - Tennessee Tech, @Tennessee-Martin Samford 15 5 1.5 Morehead State, @Tennessee Tech Eastern Illinois 11 10 6 Austin Peay State, @Eastern Kentucky Tennessee Tech 11 10 6 @Jacksonville State, Samford Austin Peay State 11 10 6 @Eastern Illinois, Murray State
If you've got natural rivals (at least as far as these things to in 1-AA) with potential to be the best in the league, why wouldn't you schedule them last?
W L GB Remaining Arizona State 12 6 - Washington, @Arizona Stanford 10 5 0.5 California, @Arizona, @Washington Washington 8 7 2.5 Washington State, @Arizona State, Stanford California 9 9 3 @Stanford, UCLA Oregon State 9 9 3 UCLA, @Southern California UCLA 7 8 3.5 @Oregon State, Washington State, @California Arizona 8 10 4 Stanford, Arizona State Southern California 7 11 5 Oregon State, @Washington State Washington State 5 10 5.5 @Washington, @UCLA, Southern California
Even more confusing than the Riverside-Irvine switch is the UDub-WSU one. Remember, though, that they're less than two-thirds of the way through here.
W L GB Remaining Army 13 7 -
The best of their kind, here, in the nation's most homogenous league.
W L GB Remaining Georgia 17 6 - @Vanderbilt, Alabama Vanderbilt 14 9 3 Georgia, @Florida Florida 13 11 4.5 @Alabama, Vanderbilt South Carolina 13 11 4.5 @Arkansas, Tennessee Louisiana State 12 11 5 Mississippi State, @Auburn Mississippi 12 12 5.5 Auburn, @Kentucky Alabama 12 12 5.5 Florida, @Georgia
It's probably telling that nobody's really challenged what looks like the league's best team after that team got smacked around pretty good by a challenging non-conference schedule. A Vandy sweep this weekend, which isn't out of the question, could make this interesting, but that's about the only thing that could.
W L GB Remaining Jackson State 18 5 -
W L GB Remaining Furman 15 6 - @Appalachian State, Georgia Southern Elon 19 8 -1 North Carolina-Greensboro 14 7 1 @Georgia Southern, Davidson College of Charleston 13 8 2 Wofford, @Western Carolina Georgia Southern 12 9 3 North Carolina-Greensboro, @Furman The Citadel 12 12 4.5 Western Carolina Appalachian State 10 11 5 Furman, @Wofford Western Carolina 10 11 5 @The Citadel, College of Charleston
How do you finish your conference schedule two weeks before everyone else? I mean, I know how, but why? I guess it sets the mark for everybody else -- Furman needs to go 4-2 to tie, UNCG needs 5-1, and CofC has to sweep.
W L GB Remaining Texas-San Antonio 18 6 - Nicholls State, Texas State, @Texas State Lamar 16 8 2 @Northwestern State, @McNeese State, McNeese State Sam Houston State 15 9 3 @Southeastern Louisiana, Stephen F. Austin State Northwestern State 14 9 3.5 Lamar, @Central Arkansas Texas State 14 10 4 @McNeese State, @Texas-San Antonio, Texas-San Antonio Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 13 11 5 Central Arkansas, @Texas-Arlington Texas-Arlington 12 12 6 @Stephen F. Austin State, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
UTSA slipped a bit recently but should be able to essentially wrap it up at home against Nicholls State this weekend.
W L GB Remaining Oral Roberts 16 4 - Oakland, @IPFW Southern Utah 11 9 5 Centenary, @Oakland South Dakota State 7 6 5.5 @IPFW, @North Dakota State Western Illinois 8 8 6 North Dakota State, @Centenary Centenary 10 11 6.5 @Southern Utah, Western Illinois Oakland 6 7 6.5 @Oral Roberts, Southern Utah IPFW 8 12 8 South Dakota State, Oral Roberts
It's the nature of the Summit nee Mid-Con that Oral Roberts losing four games in a season is news.
W L GB Remaining Louisiana-Monroe 19 8 - Troy New Orleans 15 8 2 @Arkansas-Little Rock, @Louisiana-Lafayette Troy 14 10 3.5 @Louisiana-Monroe, South Alabama Florida Atlantic 12 10 4.5 Arkansas State, @Florida International South Alabama 13 11 4.5 @Florida International, @Troy
Ya know, I completely missed that UNO run. Another good weekend, and they're lookin at a decent chance at winning it (and are probably in good shape for an at large bid as well).
W L GB Remaining Fresno State 16 8 - San Jose State, @Cal State Sacramento Nevada 15 9 1 Cal State Sacramento, @San Jose State Hawaii 16 13 2.5 @New Mexico State San Jose State 12 11 3.5 @Fresno State, Nevada New Mexico State 12 13 4.5 Hawaii, Louisiana Tech Cal State Sacramento 11 12 4.5 @Nevada, Fresno State
It's not quite as good as a head-to-head finish, but the symmetry is nice.
W L GB Remaining San Diego 15 3 - @San Francisco Pepperdine 9 5 4 Portland, @Santa Clara Santa Clara 9 6 4.5 St. Mary's, Pepperdine
USD basically finished this one off last week, but the race for second is interesting.If you're interested in reprinting this or any other Boyd's World material for your publication or Web site, please read the reprint policy and contact me
|Boyd's World-> Breadcrumbs Back to Omaha-> The Conference Races -- 2008||About the author, Boyd Nation|