Selections will be revealed Monday on ESPNU. Here are my final predictions – click “read rest of entry” below for complete matchups and projected MVC games.
1) Creighton at St Mary’s – I don’t like it one bit. Actually, the team with the biggest gripe here is Belmont, not Creighton. But if Katz is so sure of it, I have to operate off of that. Note that St Mary’s is rallying up the RPI. Also, they’re behind Gonzaga and in theory need the signature chance opportunity more than Belmont or anyone else. Whatever.
2) South Dakota St at Wichita St – Note what’s happened here – SDSU has fallen to 67 in the RPI, and that’s just going to continue to fade. I pray to God Stephen F Austin doesn’t back into this spot.
3) Detroit at Belmont – And with this, there will be rioting in Nashville. I’m not kidding. Rioting.
4) North Dakota St at Akron – Akron, as a fringe bubble candidate, gets it own version of getting hosed by this competition.
5) Stephen F Austin at Indiana St – I’m going to throw up. Anyways, SFA is a bigtime RPI risk (they’re not going to finish top 100), but as the Southland leader and the highest RPI on the board, they fall to ISU after I had to take Detroit to play Belmont because Creighton/Belmont got broken up. Note that Eastern Kentucky or Ohio could work here, but neither lead their league. SFA does.
6) Ohio at Valparaiso – MAC #2 vs. Horizon #1.
7) Eastern Kentucky at Western Michigan – two teams no better than 3rd best in their conferences, but with shiny RPIs. Kind of fits like a glove.
8 ) Montana at Long Beach St – Big Sky leaders at Big West leaders. Geography plays a role in pairing them up.
9) Denver at Oral Roberts – Another game that geographically fits well.
10) Evansville at Niagara – UE fell hard in my projections the last couple of weeks. Still, these are the MAAC leaders, so it isn’t terrible.
11) Loyola (MD) at Vermont – MAAC contender at AEast contender.
12) Iona at Davidson – MAAC contender at SoCon leaders.
13) Pacific at Northern Iowa – I’ll stick with this matchup, which means UNI has a west coast trip in 2014 against a future WCC school. I’m kind of stuck here – UNI’s RPI is now good enough to get a game, but by the time you get to them, you run out of midwestern teams to pair them up with.
14) Northwestern St at Murray St – Tough call between Murray and Utah St on the end of the board here. Either works here.
Away – Canisius gets a tough break – the 3 other MAAC contenders get TV. Other than that, no one can complain.
Home – Utah St bites the bullet on this one (and actually, if either BU or IlSU want to bite the bullet on big travel, this could be a very nice get at home in 2014). Western Illinois sees their co-leaders in the Summit get major TV but not them. Tennessee St does get left out with a 97 RPI, but their overall profile is much worse than you’d think.
Other MVC projections:
- Green Bay at Drake – Pairing is a bit stuck here – this is about the only midwestern team anywhere near Drake’s range. Not terrible though.
- Illinois St at UIC – With Oakland off the board, it’s down to WIU…or UIC for ISU. UIC has the same problem Drake does, actually. Given the dicey situation, I’ll be a massive homer and set this up in order to get to…
- Bradley at Western Illinois – But if you want to flip the last two games here, I won’t argue with it. Oakland and Wright St will be factors for these teams as well.
- Missouri St at Loyola (Chi) – Schools in MSU’s range are basically this and some MAC schools (Toledo, EMU, Buffalo maybe). Also well in range – SE Missouri St, who should be preferably avoided.
- Miami (OH) at Southern Illinois – Some other schools in range: Kent St, Cleveland St, Central Michigan. Getting Kent St in a down year could mean a quality road game in 2 years, and is my preference here.
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