Mid-major rundown: Where things stand
Believe it or not, the first league tournaments begin Tuesday, so we're heading into the final weekend of the regular season for several mid-major conferences. Plenty of information can be found on the so-called "Big Six," along with the Atlantic 10, Mountain West and Conference USA. But here's a look at the title chases in the smaller conferences that don't get as much national exposure.
America EastCurrent leader: Stony Brook (13-2)
Where things stand: By completing a sweep of second-place Vermont on Wednesday night, the Seawolves clinched their first-ever America East title. Stony Brook has never played in the NCAA tournament. Four years ago, in coach Steve Pikiell's first season, the team finished 4-24. Two years later, it was still just 7-23. The Seawolves are currently 20-7. Atlantic Sun Current leader: Jacksonville (14-5)
Where things stand: Jacksonville and Campbell entered Thursday tied atop the A-Sun. Entering Friday, JU sat alone in first place after a 65-52 victory over the Camels. Campbell, Belmont and Lipscomb are all at 13-6, but the Dolphins can clinch the outright title with a home win over East Tennessee State on Saturday. Big Sky Current leader: Weber State (12-2)
Where things stand: The Wildcats have a two-game lead over Northern Colorado with two games left to go. Weber can clinch the outright title either at 6-20 Eastern Washington on Friday or at 8-17 Portland State on Sunday. Or, of course, with an NCU loss. Weber State's RPI is a respectable 70, by the way. That's better than bubble teams like Notre Dame and Minnesota.
Where things stand: With a 71-48 win over Liberty on Thursday, the Chanticleers clinched their first Big South title since 1991. In improving to 25-5, they also broke the school record for wins. Coastal's only NCAA appearances came in '91 and '93. Head coach Cliff Ellis? He's been to eight (South Alabama, Clemson, Auburn). Big West Current leader: UC Santa Barbara (11-3)
Where things stand: At 9-4, Pacific is the only team capable of catching the Gauchos, who swept the Tigers this season. UCSB closes at Cal Poly (Saturday) and UC Irvine at home (Wednesday). One win will clinch the top seed. Two will clinch an outright title, which would be the school's second in the past three years. Colonial Current leader: Old Dominion (14-3)
Where things stand: ODU, with its RPI of 42, its win at Georgetown and its 33-point whitewashing of Charlotte, is the league's last hope for an at-large bid. But first things first. The Monarchs host VCU in Saturday's regular-season finale. A win means an outright title and the No. 1 seed in Richmond. Northeastern (13-4) is struggling, but a win at George Mason on Saturday and an ODU loss would mean a share of the title and the No. 1 seed. The Huskies won the only meeting between the two. Horizon Current leader: Butler (17-0)
Where things stand: The Bulldogs, riding the nation's longest winning streak (17), long ago clinched the Horizon title. It's the fourth straight season they've won or shared the league championship. Butler hasn't lost since before Christmas (Dec. 22 at UAB). It closes the regular season Friday night at Valparaiso. Ivy Current leader: Cornell (9-1)
Where things stand: The 21-4 Big Red, who entered the top 25 earlier this month before a stunning loss at Penn, host a big one with second-place Princeton (7-2) on Friday night. A win by Cornell would give it a seemingly insurmountable 2½-game lead in a conference that awards its automatic bid to the regular-season champ. MAAC Current leader: Siena (15-1)
Where things stand: The Saints have a four-game lead with two games to play. In other words, Siena has won a third straight MAAC title. Will the conference tourney host Saints make it a third straight NCAA tourney berth? Frankly, anything less would be stunning. MAC Current leaders: Kent State and Akron (both 11-3)
Where things stand: Ball State (8-6) leads the weaker West by a game over three teams, but the real race is in the East and for the overall title. With two games left, the Golden Flashes and Zips are tied at 11-3 and meet in the regular-season finale at Akron on March 5. Not suggesting KSU is an at-large candidate (it's not), but for what it's worth, the Flashes' RPI of 49 is higher than five of the Big East's bubble teams. MEAC Current leader: Morgan State (12-1)
Where things stand: The Todd Bozeman-coached Bears clinched their third straight regular-season title with a comeback win over Maryland-Eastern Shore on Monday. Led by Reggie Holmes (21.5 ppg), Morgan State won 97-94 at Arkansas earlier in the season and gave Louisville all it wanted at Freedom Hall. Missouri Valley Current leader: Northern Iowa (14-3)
Where things stand: UNI clinched the school's first-ever outright Valley title way back on Feb. 16, but is coming off a stunning loss to cellar-dweller Evansville. The 24-4 Panthers are probably still safe for an at-large bid, but they might not want to chance it with a home loss to red-hot Illinois State this weekend, which would provide zero momentum heading into the always-wild Arch Madness in St. Louis. Northeast Current leader: Robert Morris (15-2)
Where things stand: It all comes down to Saturday. Two-time defending champ Robert Morris has a one-game lead over Quinnipiac, but has a tough game at third-place Mount St. Mary's. If the Colonials drop that one, the door is open for the Bobcats, who hold the No. 1 seed tiebreaker (and thus home-court advantage) by virtue of last weekend's win at RMU. QU plays at Fairleigh Dickinson in the finale. Ohio Valley Current leader: Murray State (16-1)
Where things stand: Murray's 17-game win streak -- tied for the longest in the country -- came to an end Thursday night at Morehead State. But the Racers (24-4) had already clinched the OVC regular-season title and will carry the No. 1 seed into the conference tourney, which begins Tuesday. Patriot Current leader: Lehigh (9-4)
Where things stand: Here's another league that will come down to the final day. The Mountain Hawks lead by a game and can clinch the outright title with a home win against 8-20 Holy Cross on Saturday. Lafayette (at American) and Bucknell (at Army) wait in the wings hoping for a Lehigh loss. Southern Current leader: Wofford (14-3)
Where things stand: North champ Appalachian State (12-5) has had a nice season under first-year coach Buzz Peterson, but the most heated race has taken place in the South Division, where Thursday's first-place showdown ended in Wofford beating College of Charleston and clinching the SoCon title. The Terriers, seeking their first NCAA tourney bid, have won 15 of their past 16 and own nonconference wins against South Carolina and Georgia.
Where things stand: The Bearkats clinched the conference title with a win over McNeese State on Wednesday. Remember, these are the same Kats that walked into Rupp Arena in November and put up 92 points (losing 102-92) on the back of 18 3-pointers, 11 from Corey Allmond. They later won at Auburn 107-89. SWAC Current leader: Jackson State (13-1)
Where things stand: The Tigers lead Arkansas-Pine Bluff by two games with four to play. Jackson State, on a nine-game winning streak, might be able to clinch the championship when it hosts the Golden Lions on Monday night. Summit Current leader: Oakland (16-1)
Where things stand: Led by double-double machine Keith Benson (16.9 ppg, 10.0 rpg), the Golden Grizzlies have already clinched the school's second Summit League regular-season title. The school's only NCAA tourney team (2005) was 9-18 in the regular season and was slotted into the play-in game. If it wins the league tournament, these Grizz -- with their 20 wins and RPI of 65 -- will not be headed to Dayton. Sun Belt Current leaders: Troy, Middle Tennessee and North Texas (all 12-5)
Where things stand: It's a wild one heading into the final weekend. Three teams share the overall conference lead: UNT in the West Division and Middle and Troy in the East. Two more teams are just one game back: Arkansas State in the West and Western Kentucky in the East. The regular season wraps up Saturday with Troy at Arkansas State, MTSU at FAU, WKU at FIU and North Texas at UL Monroe. West Coast Current leader: Gonzaga (11-2)
Where things stand: The long conference win streak came to an end this season and -- gasp! -- there was even a second league loss. But the Zags swept the teams they needed to (Saint Mary's and Portland) and have clinched at least a share of the WCC title for the 10th straight season. With a revenge win against San Francisco on Saturday, Gonzaga will win another outright championship. You have to go all the way back to 1997 to find the last time this program didn't win either the regular-season or tourney title. WAC Current leader: Utah State (12-2)
Where things stand: It's a battle of the Aggies. The Utah State version is one game up in the loss column and hosts second-place New Mexico State in the season finale on March 6. If the NMSU version can win its next two (Boise State Saturday and at Nevada Thursday) and stay within a game, those Aggies will have a title shot on their trip to Logan. New Mexico State won the first meeting 55-52 in early January. With an RPI of 35 and a win over BYU in its back pocket, USU is also in the hunt for an at-large bid. Brett Edgerton is the men's college basketball editor for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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