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2013-14 Atlantic Sun Post-Mortem

by - Published June 17, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
atlanticsun

The Atlantic Sun doesn’t get a whole lot of publicity over the course of the season. But when the postseason comes around, beware. Atlantic Sun teams have won a game each of the past two NCAA Tournaments. And that’s just the beginning.

Atlantic Sun teams have won 14 postseason games over the past four years, and have won at least one game every year since 2009. The conference has continued to perform well in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, where they placed two teams this season.

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2013-14 Southland Post-Mortem

by - Published June 12, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
southland

Few college basketball teams in a season have a true program-defining year, with unprecedented success that resets the bar for what they’re capable of accomplishing. What Stephen F. Austin did this year out of the Southland Conference, though, most certainly qualifies.

The Lumberjacks had a truly special season, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in the Southland since Louisiana Tech was a member and none other than Karl Malone was leading the Bulldogs to the Sweet 16 in 1985. Stephen F. Austin went 32-3, including a 29-game winning streak and a perfect 18-0 run through the SLC. Topping it off was a memorable NCAA Tournament win over VCU before the run finally ended in the Round of 32 against hot-shooting UCLA.

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2013-14 MAC Post-Mortem

by - Published June 12, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
mac

No more are the days when, in projecting the best teams in the Mid-American Conference, one could eliminate half the deck before even starting their breakdown.

Since the MAC went to divisions in 1997, the East Division has dominated play with few exceptions. That was especially true of late, as East teams Akron, Kent State, Miami (Ohio) and Ohio accounted for all nine league NCAA Tournament appearances from 2005-13. Meanwhile, the MAC West seemed proficient at only being as bad as the East was good. Just one of its teams even qualified for the MAC tourney final in that time (Toledo in 2006), and its weakness was never better displayed than 2007-08 when three teams combined to ‘win’ the West in a three-way tie at 7-9.

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2013-14 SEC Post-Mortem

by - Published June 12, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
sec

What does the SEC – the football juggernaut – have beyond Florida and Kentucky on the hardwood?

That’s the big question this off-season. It was already a discussion point during the season and postseason, and it’s not going to end now. The SEC had a 12-3 record in the NCAA Tournament, but Kentucky and Florida combined for 10 of those wins and thus carried them to that mark.

When it was all said and done, the SEC ended up with three teams in the NCAA Tournament. Tennessee was the only team besides Florida and Kentucky to make it. The conference had four teams in the NIT, with LSU and Arkansas each winning a game before getting bounced without a chance to go to New York.

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2013-14 MAAC Post-Mortem

by - Published June 6, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
maac

The MAAC underwent a membership change in 2013-14, and one that appears to be a net positive. What hasn’t changed, and surely won’t anytime soon, is how fiercely competitive the conference is. That was demonstrated right up to the end this past season.

The conference had several teams right there in the race for the top until late in the season. Iona got hot and pulled away, but even so only three games separated first from fourth place and just two separated fifth from eighth. The real question going forward is if anyone can break into that top group, as Iona and Manhattan seem set to rule the conference for a while, with Quinnipiac having a lot of potential based on its first year in the conference. There are some who could join them, but questions abound in all.

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2013-14 Big West Post-Mortem

by - Published June 5, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
bigwest

The Big West in 2013-14 was a very nice half-a-conference through its regular season. In its postseason tourney, the conference showed glimpses of very soon being a tough top-to-bottom league.

Of course, a generalization like the former is always too simplistic and never gives enough credit for the rigors of conference play, but the truth is the Big West was a four-team race last year. And a very good one at that. UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, Long Beach State and Hawaii staged a spirited battle for the conference title in a league that refreshingly still decides a true champion through a double round-robin schedule.

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2013-14 Conference USA Post-Mortem

by - Published June 4, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
conferenceusa

Determining who the very best teams in Conference USA were last year is like trying to find out how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.

Perhaps only Mr. Owl could sort that out in a league that is just way too big because of the chase for football money. It’s a shame, too, because this could be a really good hoops league, but as it was this year, it was impossible to separate the top teams. Not helping the cause was 16-game conference schedule in a 16-team conference (this year’s incarnation after welcoming eight new members), resulting in numerous inequities in who played where as well as who one drew as their lone opponent to play twice.

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2013-14 Big South Post-Mortem

by - Published June 4, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
bigsouth

The 2013-14 season was a historic one for the Big South, and that included when it counts most. Once the postseason came, a good deal of history was made in the conference. While that didn’t mean an NCAA Tournament victory, as champion Coastal Carolina fell to Virginia after leading by five at halftime, it still meant some good history for the conference.

Coastal was part of some history, though, with their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 21 years. Head coach Cliff Ellis is now the 10th head coach in Division I history to take four different programs to the NCAA Tournament. In other tournament action, Radford picked up the first CBI win by a Big South program, then VMI reached the semifinals of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. In doing so, the Keydets became the first Big South program to win multiple games in a postseason tournament.

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2013-14 WAC Post-Mortem

by - Published May 28, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
wac

The Western Athletic Conference still has a pulse. It faces a long, long rehabilitation period to stability, but at least a few positive signs were visible in 2013-14.

As expected, the WAC struggled overall, with just two schools finishing with winning records. New Mexico State, the lone heavyweight left from prior days of prosperity, scored the league’s three biggest wins (at New Mexico, plus a sweep of UTEP) and, in fact, the WAC’s only three top 100 RPI wins. And, sure enough, the Aggies also won the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, just as expected before the season.

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2013-14 ACC Post-Mortem

by - Published May 27, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
acc

With Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse entering, much was expected of the ACC this year. The end result? Well, the ACC was still pretty good, but it wasn’t exactly the super conference some expected it to be. In fact, even before the NCAA Tournament came and went with just one team making the Sweet 16 and going no further, it seemed clear that the conference underachieved relative to expectations this season.

The truth, as is often the case, is a bit more complicated than that. That’s especially true when you realize that ACC teams won five in-season tournaments in non-conference play. It was also a nice year for the conference in terms of individual talents.

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