A lot of things can happen between now and March. But today, as we gaze into our crystal ball, this is our prediction for the NCAA men's basketball tournament field.
Remember the field of 68 includes 31 automatic bids and 37 at-large selections.
Go ahead and save this, then grade us in March. This is just a prediction. No automatic qualifiers were injured in the preparation of this forecast.
FIELD OF 68 (By conference)
* = Automatic qualifier
America East (1)
*Stony Brook – Coach Steve Pikiell's Seawolves, led by Tommy Brenton, finally kick down the door to the tournament.
Atlantic Coast (5)
Duke – If someone steps up at point guard, Coach K's team will cause trouble in the tournament.
Miami – Coach Jim Larranaga has talent and depth. Coming off a 20-win season, the Hurricanes should make the field.
Atlantic Sun (1)
*South Carolina Upstate – Coach Eddie Payne has all five starters back, led by Torrey Craig and Ty Greene.
Saint Louis – Too bad Rick Majerus can't be around to enjoy this tournament-ready team he put together.
VCU – Shaka Smart and the Rams have a new challenge in the A-10, but they've never minded being the underdog.
Like it or not, the Big East is changing. Will the shifting landscape spell the downfall of the conference? Ken Davis takes a look.
Big East (7)
Big Sky (1)
Big South (1)
*Charleston Southern – The Buccaneers have a big-time backcourt duo of Saah Nimley and Arlon Harper.
|Cody Zeller is the face of Indiana's campaign as they start the season ranked No. 1.|
Big Ten (6)
Michigan State – Coach Tim Izzo is really excited about this team. That should have everyone concerned.
Big 12 (6)
Texas – Coach Rick Barnes will rely heavily on his incoming freshmen as the Longhorns make a 15th consecutive NCAA appearance.
Big West (1)
*Long Beach State – Dan Monson must replace a group of reliable seniors but he has James Ennis and three key transfers.
Conference USA (1)
*Drexel – Delaware may challenge the Dragons, but coach Bruiser Flint's team should dominate the conference.
*Valparaiso – Five senior starters returning? Bryce Drew's team should run away with the Horizon title.
Metro Atlantic (1)
*Loyola – The MAAC conference tournament is always entertaining but Dylon Cormier and Erik Etherly should keep the Greyhounds in business.
*Savannah State – Coach Horace Broadnax has all 14 players back, led by Rashad Hassan.
|Creighton star Doug McDermott could well be a household name by the end of this season.|
Missouri Valley (2)
Mountain West (4)
San Diego State – Coach Steve Fisher has four starters back. Jamaal Franklin leads a great backcourt.
Colorado State – Larry Eustachy's team needs to win on the road. With four starters back and decent size, that just might happen.
*LIU Brooklyn – Four starters return, including NEC Player of the Year Julian Boyd. Jason Brickman was fifth in the nation in assists last year.
Ohio Valley (1)
*Murray State – The Racers must replace three starters, but they still have Isaiah Canaan and lots of experience.
UCLA – Ben Howland and the Bruins got good news when the NCAA cleared freshman forward Kyle Anderson to play. Shabazz Muhammad's case is still under review.
*Lehigh – Remember the Mountain Hawks? The Duke Blue Devils do. Guard C.J. McCollum and forward Gabe Knutson are back.
|Phil Pressey and Missouri face a new challenge in the SEC this year.|
Missouri – The Tigers have Phil Pressey, so Missouri should handle the switch to the SEC without as much difficulty as its football team.
Alabama - Coach Anthony Grant got the Tide back to the NCAA tournament last season. There's a lot of pressure on freshman Devonta Pollard this season.
*Davidson - It's hard to imagine the NCAA tourney without Bob McKillop's team. Look out for Jake Cohen and De'Mon Brooks on the inside.
*Oral Roberts – Winning in a new league is never easy, but Scott Sutton has a talented team led by Steven Roundtree and Warren Niles.
SW Athletic (1)
*Texas Southern – Coach Mike Davis has a veteran team that includes Omar Strong and Erick Baltran.
*South Dakota State – Nate Wolters seems the obvious choice for Summit Player of the Year. Remember his name.
Sun Belt (1)
*North Texas – Forward Tony Mitchell will be the star for new coach Tony Benford, a former Marquette assistant. Mitchell averaged a double-double as a freshman.
West Coast (3)
*Gonzaga – Coach Mark Few hasn't missed the NCAA in 13 years. Kevin Pangos leads this group of Bulldogs.
Saint Mary's – Senior guard Matthew Dellavedova should be conference player of the year and three other starters return.