The SWAC is BACK! (and potentially worse than ever)... Texas Southern is still the favorite under Mike Davis, but the rest of the league could account for 9 of the bottom-20 teams in division 1 basketball.
Juan Dixon is here! Ok, fine, he's just coaching a low-tier team, unless Coppin State shocks me (and the world!). The fight at the top should be between Hampton, Morgan State, and Norfolk State, with a few dark horses mixed in. Can anyone else break into the ranks of the contenders?
The Southland promises to be a competitive league this season with several squads holding legitimate title hopes. Stephen F. Austin appears to be back on top of the league, while teams like Lamar, SE Louisiana, and Nicholls State look to unseat the conference power.
Florida Gulf Coast is the heavy favorite in the Atlantic Sun, but Lipscomb is a real contender and North Florida is sneaky dark horse. Still, though, Dunk City is the biggest threat to win games in the NCAA Tournament, so high seeds beware - they might be even better than the 2013 Sweet 16 darling.
The Big West is wide open this season with the departure of some key All-League talent. Perennial conference contender UC Irvine and defending conference champ UC Davis look to pace the league, while traditional powers Hawaii and Long Beach State look to rebound from down years.
In a conference with plenty of skilled guards and upwards of 3-4 legitimate contenders, the margins are extremely thin. Who will be able to separate themselves from the pack and fly highest in the Big Sky?
UNC Asheville leads a fiercely competitive Big South with its dynamic wing duo. Liberty looks to make a push for glory behind coach Ritchie McKay's pack line, Winthrop vies for a second consecutive bid to the Dance behind Xavier Cooks, and Campbell looks to build on a surprising run behind electric dynamo Chris Clemons.
In a league with a clear top tier, who will be able to create some separation between Belmont, Murray State, and Jacksonville State? Murray boasts star guard Jonathan Stark, but never count out Rick Byrd and the Bruins...
Bucknell looks to assert its dominance on helpless Patriot foes behind conference Player of the Year Nana Foulland. Colgate, Boston, and Navy look to play spoiler while Lehigh tries to cope with life after Tim Kempton.
With a recent influx of high-level coaches, the WAC is getting more and more competitive, particularly at the top. But will Thunder Dan and Grand Canyon pull a Northern Kentucky and earn the conference's NCAA tournament bid in the program's first year of postseason eligibility?
After steamrolling through the C-USA last year, Middle Tennessee finally looks vulnerable with Jacorey Williams and Reggie Upshaw graduating this summer. The Blue Raiders will have to fend off a handful of worthy adversaries who have the chops to seize the regular season crown in 2017-18.
With most of Monmouth's dominating team from last season flipping over, Iona has emerged as the conference favorite in the MAAC. Former conference doormats, Niagara and Manhattan, suddenly look ready to compete, while Fairfield returns arguably the MAAC's best player.
Apart from poor Omaha and Western Illinois, every team in the Sun Belt returns significant talent from last season - none better than South Dakota State's Mike Daum. Can Daum lead the Jackrabbits back to a third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance?
With Valpo out, the Horizon League turns to Oakland and Northern Kentucky for consistent NCAA Tourney representation. UIC and Detroit look like upstart contenders this season in a conference that features a clear top tier.
Yale and Harvard look to make the Ivy League a 2-bid conference for the first time in history. Princeton will be tough as always, while Penn looks to play dark horse and steal a bid at the Palestra in March. With so much incoming and growing talent, this year could be the best Ivy we've seen in years.
The MAC enters 2017-18 sans a lot of last year's talent, but there are still some dangerous squads lurking here. Western Michigan, Ball State, and Buffalo seem to be the frontrunners, but in an unpredictable league, anything can happen.
The Valley is wide open with the departure of conference overlord Wichita State. Missouri State and Loyola now look to be the favorites in a relatively down year for one of the premier mid major conferences in the country. New member Valparaiso looks to make their mark on the league in their inaugural season, while traditional power Northern Iowa looks to get back to glory.
The AAC welcomes a new friend to the party this year after the perennial Missouri Valley Conference powerhouse Wichita State joined the now 12-team league this summer. Gregg Marshall and the Shockers look to continue their dominance as they step up in competition, but a formidable foe in Cincinnati patiently awaits the challenge.
With turnover and a coaching change plaguing recent league power UNC Wilmington, Charleston has emerged as the conference favorite. Earl Grant has a deep, experienced roster with the power to upset in the Big Dance. Towson, Elon, and Hofstra look to spoil the Cougars' auto-bid hopes.
After peaking in 2012-13 with 5 of the conference's 9 teams making the Big Dance, only 1 of 11 squads have qualified for the Tournament in each of the past two years. I'm not sure that will change this year, despite the presence of several high-potential squads...
While Rhode Island seems to be the clear-cut frontrunner in the A-10 this year, it's hard to find much separation amongst the rest of the 14-team field. With only four games separating the 4th and 9th place teams last season, the margin for error will once again be slim to none in 2017-18.
After years of being the ugly stepchild of power conference hoops, the SEC brings in a glut of new talent this season and looks to be back on par with the ACC/Big Ten/etc. But how many NCAA bids will that lead to? And can anyone unseat the Kentucky Kid Crew?
Despite an impressive 10-4 showing in last year's NCAA tournament, the Pac-12 earned only four berths to the Big Dance - the league's least since 2012. Will a loaded Arizona squad roll through the "Conference of Champions" in a one-horse race? Or will the likes of USC, UCLA and Oregon have the chops to take down the Wildcats?