Best Call(s): Not too many to choose from! I'll go with nailing Western Illinois, which was not a ballsy call in the slightest. The Leathernecks started out the season on fire with a huge win at Wisconsin but tailed off after that losing 17 of 22 contest after a 5-0 start. Other best call? SDSU was good!
Worst Calls(s): This was probably my worst conference in terms of selecting the standings. I'd like to point out in defense of my selections, nearly every college bball hub in the nation chose SDSU, NDSU, ORU top three. This was truly an unpredictable league with Omaha coming out of nowhere to be one of the toughest teams in the conference. I had the privilege of seeing the Mavs live at Minnesota and they are a fun team to watch. Omaha plays at the 6th highest tempo in the country and I severely underestimated the impact of JUCO transfer Tra-Deon Hollins who turned out to be the defensive player of the year. Also, IPFW - wow. I picked them 4th but in no way did I see them taking the league title from the Jacks. Guard Max Landis ended up winning POY averaging 18.7 points per game, and redshirt frosh John Konchar turned out to be way better than advertised. In addition we saw two hugely disappointing seasons from the Bison of NDSU and the Golden Eagles of Oral Bob. In the end the loss of Billbury hurt ORU too much as Obi-won Emegano couldn't carry the load by himself.
Who I want to win: I'd like to see South Dakota State win this one. They missed out on the tourney last year with a heart-wrenching Summit finals loss to rival North Dakota State and I just love the guards on this team (plus the Jack Rabbits is a great nickname). I would be absolutely fine with IPFW taking the crown as well; new teams (especially good new teams) are always good for the Big Dance.
Who I think will win: I think the Jacks get it done. To me they are by far the best team in this conference (KenPom and the RPI agree with me). They're certainly vulnerable to Omaha in the second round, but I think they get past them and cruise to the finals while IPFW and NDSU slug it out on the top-half of the bracket.
Chance to make a run: North Dakota State is always good in this tournament, it wouldn't surprise me if they made a run to the ship. Otherwise, I love Omaha's style of play; they play fast and are excellent at wreaking havoc and causing turnovers. In the NCAA Tournament, I think the Jacks out of a 13-seed could definitely take down a vulnerable 4-seed (Duke, Indiana). Whereas, if IPFW wins, they likely earn a 14-seed where I think they ultimately fizzle out against a superior 3.
How I think it will play out: Here's how I see it:
(1) IPFW defeats (8) South Dakota
(5) North Dakota State defeats (4) IUPUI
(2) South Dakota State defeats (7) Oral Roberts
(3) Omaha defeats (6) Denver
(5) North Dakota State defeats (1) IPFW
(2) South Dakota State defeats (3) Omaha (must-watch game)
(2) South Dakota State defeats (5) North Dakota State
The Jacks earn a 13-seed where they upend an unsuspecting 4-seed with great guard play and a stellar inside performance from all-leaguer Mike Daum.