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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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2013-14 America East Post-Mortem

by - Published May 23, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
americaeast

The America East Conference had a different look and a very familiar look in 2013-14. It started with one and ended with the other.

The season started without one of the signature programs in the conference, as Boston University was off to the Patriot League. While other programs have emerged, the Terriers had a long run of success and were consistent contenders and winners. Their departure hurts the conference, make no mistake about it.

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2013-14 Atlantic 10 Post-Mortem

by - Published May 22, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
atlantic10

Admit it: you thought the Atlantic 10 was never going to match the success it had in 2012-13, especially with one of its signature programs (Xavier) and a newcomer that gave it a big boost in that historic year (Butler), plus another one on the rise (Charlotte), off to another conference.

Don’t worry. You were hardly alone. And now that the Atlantic 10 has outdone itself, you can give the conference credit and now look at it in a different light going forward.

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2013-14 OVC Post-Mortem

by - Published May 21, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
ohiovalley

Even though the conference is split by divisions, the Ohio Valley Conference was a distinct three-team race last year. And though just one of those three made the NCAA Tournament, it can be said that all three ended their seasons on a high note.

Eastern Kentucky won the OVC Tournament and the league’s automatic NCAA bid, as the Colonels’ veteran team knocked off the top two seeds. The season was a success for EKU, a perimeter-oriented team that was expected to be around the top of the OVC, maximized its talent and gave Kansas a serious run in the NCAAs.

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2013-14 Mountain West Post-Mortem

by - Published May 19, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
mountainwest

With conference realignment being a headline the last few years, few conferences have escaped unharmed outside of the BCS conferences. The Mountain West is one of them, although they almost lost out big. The end result, as pertains to 2013-14, was another excellent season, led by the program that has become the standard bearer of late.

San Diego State had another big year, winning 31 games, including a 16-2 mark in Mountain West play to pace the conference. The 16 conference wins set a new record. They also reached the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament before being eliminated by Arizona.

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2013-14 Summit League Post-Mortem

by - Published May 16, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
summit

If former Detroit Lions head coach Wayne Fontes was “Rasputin,” as Chris Berman often used to call him, then maybe the Summit League should be called the Wayne Fontes League.

The Summit is the league that refuses to go away. It has gone through name changes (including its first moniker, the Association of Mid-Continent Universities, or AMCU-8). It has seen regular membership changes, doing realignment since way before it was cool-30 different basketball members in its 31-year history, and just one current member in the league longer than 15 years. It has survived mergers, terrible geography, schools dropping down to Division III-even schools disbanding athletic programs.

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2013-14 Patriot League Post-Mortem

by - Published May 15, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
patriotleague

Times are good in the Patriot League right now. The league just completed its first season with ten schools, and not only was it a success overall but there is plenty of reason to like what is ahead. The early verdict on the league’s expansion is that it is definitely a net plus.

Three teams saw postseason play, and all three had at least 20 wins. That marked the third time in league history that happened, with the previous instance being two years earlier. This season didn’t top that one overall, as that year two teams topped Boston University’s 24-win mark this season and both of those teams won a game in their postseason tournament, but there is reason to believe that the best is yet to come.

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