Fasten your seatbelts. It is conference tournament time which means the NCAA Tournament is right around the corner. Automatic berths are at stake as well as seeding in the NCAA Tournament.
America East – Stony Brook, New Hampshire, UMass Lowell, Vermont, UMBC and Albany qualified for one of the six spots.
The Skinny – Stony Brook secured the America East regular season title for the first time in thirteen seasons. Stony Brook and number two seed New Hampshire receive a bye to the semifinals which gives them an advantage but this one is up for grabs with any of the participants capable of winning it.
American Athletic Conference – UCF, SMU, UConn, USF, Memphis and Temple qualified.
The Skinny – The seeding in the conference tournament will not be decided until contests are completed this weekend. SMU and UCF are currently tied for the number one spot with 4-1-1 records in conference play. The two top seeds receive a first round bye and the top overall seed hosts the tournament. UCF, SMU and UConn are the tournament frontrunners.
Atlantic 10 – VCU, Davidson, George Mason, Rhode Island, Fordham, Saint Louis, Dayton and Massachusetts qualified.
The Skinny – VCU, 10-5-1 overall with a 6-1-1 mark in conference play, won the regular season title. The Rams lost to Dayton 1-0 and tied Saint Louis 0-0 during regular season conference play. VCU should get past #8 seed Massachusetts in the first round of play but could have trouble when they face the winner of the Rhode Island vs. Fordham contest. Davidson is capable of winning in all if they play their best soccer of the year. Saint Louis is a long shot but could have a shot at the title if they can get past George Mason.
Atlantic Coast Conference – Wake Forest, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Louisville, Pitt, Duke, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina have advanced to the quarterfinals.
The Skinny – Pitt's 2-0 win over Virginia was the big surprise of the first round. Wake Forest and North Carolina are the frontrunners but with such a competitive field there is a good chance that one of them may be upset. Wake Forest and North Carolina didn't face each other in regualr season play so it would make for a great championship match should both advance to the final. Any of the eight teams in the quarterfinals could win it all but Duke and Louisville look to be the most likely to prevail in the event Wake Forest or UNC falters.
Atlantic Sun – Lipscomb, FGCU, North Florida, Jacksonville, Liberty, and Stetson qualified.
The Skinny – Lipscomb and FGCU shared the ASUN regular season title with 5-1-0 marks in conference play. Both received a bye to the conference tournament semifinal. Lipscomb will face the winner of the Liberty vs. Jacksonville contest. FGCU will face the winner of the Stetson vs. North Florida match. Lipscomb and FGCU are prohibitive favorites to advance to the tournament final.
Big East – Creighton, Georgetown, Providence, Marquette, Xavier, St. John's are the participants.
The Skinny – Number one seed Creighton and number two seed Georgetown recevived a bye to the semifinals. Marquette hosts Xavier and Providence hosts St. John's in first round play. The ususal suspects, Creighton and Georgetown, have returned to the top of the Big East this year. Chances are pretty good that they will meet in the championship contest. Xavier under Andy Fleming has a history of pulling off surprises in conference tournament play so don't count the Muskateers out of it.
Big South – High Point University, Radford, Presbyterian, Campbell, Gardner-Webb and Longwood are in the tournament.
The Skinny – High Point won the regular season title with a 7-0-1 mark in conference play. The Panthers are 13-2-1 overall and are the only team in the conference with an overall winning record. HPU and Radford have a bye to the semifinals. On paper High Point should prevail but unexpected things can happen in conference tournaments as they did last year when Presbyterian got hot and won the Big South Tournament. HIgh Point can't afford to look past anyone. They tied Campbell 1-1 and both Radford and Presbyterian played the Panthers very close when they met in regular season play.
Big Ten – Every team in the Big Ten qualifies. Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Michigan, Maryland, Penn State, Rutgers, Northwestern, and Ohio State.
The Skinny – Number one seeded Indiana, 15-2-0 with a 8-0-0 mark in conference play, is the team to beat but they will be without midfielder Griffin Dorsey and forward Justin Rennicks who are playing with the U.S. National Team for three weeks. Whether or not that makes a difference remains to be seen. A very solid Wisconsin team earned the number two seed, Michigan the number three seed, Michigan State the number four seed and Maryland the number five seed. The winner of the Michigan State and Maryland game could upset the Hoosiers. Wisconsin and Michigan should face each other in the other bracket with the winner advancing to the tournament championship match.
Big West – U.C. Irvine, U.C. Santa Barbara, UC Riverside, CSUN, UC Davis, and Cal State Fullerton qualified for the tournament.
The Skinny – Number one seed UC Irvine and number two seed UC Riverside earned a bye to the semifinals. UC Davis upset CSUN 3-1 and Cal State Fullerton topped UC Santa Barbara in a match that was decided by a penalty kick shootout. UC Davis now faces U.C. Irvine and Cal State Fullerton tangles with UC Riverside. This one is up for grabs with any of the four remaining teams capable of winning it.
Colonial Athletic Association – The tournament field consists of James Madison, UNCW, Hofstra, Delaware, William and Mary, and Northeastern.
The Skinny: James Madison, 11-4-2 overall with a 6-2-0 mark in conference play, and UNCW, 12-4-2 overall with a 5-1-2 mark in conference play, earned a bye to the semifinals. The winner of the William and Mary and Delaware contest will face UNCW. The winner of the Northeastern at Hofstra contest will face UNCW. James Madison was upset by Elon 1-0 in their final regular season contest and lost to UNCW 2-0 at the end of September in regular season play. UNCW closed out regualr season play with a 1-0 loss to Northeastern. This one is up for grabs.
Conference USA – The seeding will be determined this weekend. Kentucky and Old Dominion are both 6-1-0 in conference play. They face each other Friday with the regular season title on the line. The top seven teams in regular season play qualify for a spot in the conference tournamet. Kentucky, ODU, Charlotte, FIU, Marshall, New Mexico, and UAB look to be in the field
The Skinny – Kentucky is having a banner season but Old Dominion, Charlotte and FIU are very capable of getting hot and winning the CUSA tournament.
Horizon League – The six teams in the tournament and the seeding will not be finalized until the games this weekend have been completed.
The Skinny – Wright State, UIC and Green Bay are all still in the running for the top spot. Those three teams are the frontrunners for the tournament title. Wright State comes into their final game with Milwaukee off a 1-0 loss to Green Bay. UIC comes into their final contest with Northern Kentucky off a two game losing streak. Green Bay comes into their final contest with Oakland off an impressive three game win streak that included victories over non-conference foe Central Arkansas, UIC and Wright State.
Ivy League – There is no conference tournament. The regular season winner is awarded the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
The Skinny – Princeton, 9-4-2 overall with a 4-0-1 mark in conference play, is currently at the top of the Ivy League standings and is in the drivers seat. They have games remaining with Penn at home this Saturday and Yale on the road the following Saturday. Columbia is currently in second place with a contest on the road against Harvard this Saturday and Cornell at home the follwing Saturday. Princeton topped Columbia 2-1 when the two faced each other.
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference – Fairfield, Quinnipiac, Marist, Iona, Rider and Saint Peter's qualified for the tournament.
The Skinny – Fairfield and Quinnipiac received a bye to the semifinals. The winner of the Iona and Rider contest will square off with Fairfield. The winner of the Marist and Saint Peter's match will tangle with Quinnipiac. Fairfield won the regular season title with a 11-4-2 overall record and a 8-0-2 mark in conferenc play. Fairfield is a young and motivated team. The Stags tied Quinnipiac 0-0 and Marist 1-1 during regular season play. Fairfield, Quinnipiac, and Marist are all capable of winning the tournament. It all comes down to who finishes their scoring opportunities and does not make mistakes on the defensive side of the ball.
Mid-American Conference – This year every team in the MAC qualifies for the tournament. West Virginia, Western Michigan, Bowling Green, SIUE, Akron and Northern Illinois are the participants. The seeding will not be determined until the games on Saturday have been completed.
The Skinny – The top two seeds receive a bye to the semifinals. West Virginia with a 4-0-0 mark in conference play has claimed the top seed and a bye. The Mountaineers will host the semifinals and the championship contest. Western Michigan and Bowling Green are currently tied for second with 1-1-2 records in conference play. On Saturday Western Michigan travels to face Akron, Bowling Green hosts SIUE and West Virginia hits the road to tangle with NIU. If Western Michigan tops Akron and Bowling Green losses then Western Michigan will finish in the second spot. If Bowling Green tops SIUE and Western Michigan losses then Bowling Green secures the second spot. Shoud Akron top Western Michigan and Bowling green lose or tie with SIUE then Akron would earn the number two spot and the bye that goes with it. West Virignia is having a stellar season and playing at home will give them an edge. Nonetheless there is a ton of parity in the MAC this year. The bottom line is that any of the six participants are capabale of winning the tournament.
Missouri Valley Conference – The top six teams during regular season play qualify for the tournament. The field and the seeding will not be determined until Saturday's matches are completed.
The Skinny – Loyola Chicago, Missouri State, Central Arkansas and Valparaiso have secured a spot in the six team field. Both Loyola Chicago and Central Arkansas have a shot at the top seed. Central Arkansas topped Loyola Chicago 1-0. Missouri State and Central Arkansas face each other on Saturday. If Central Arkansas wins then they will be the conference champions. The top two seeds receive a bye to the semifinals of the tournamet. If Missouri State tops Central Arkansas they will finish in the number two spot, Loyola Chicago will secure the regular season title, and Central Arkansas will drop to the number three spot. Loyola Chicago will finish either first or second so they have already secured a first round bye. Loyola Chicago, Missouri State and Central Arkansas are the clear frontrunners.
Northeast Conference – The top four teams in regular season play earn a spot in the tournament field. The field will not be determined until the contests this weekend have been completed. LIU Brooklyn and Saint Francis have nailed down two of the tournament berths.
The Skinny – LIU Brooklyn lost to Saint Francis 1-0 when the two faced each other on October 21. Chances are good that they will meet again in the tournament championship match. Fairleigh Dickinson and Bryant are currently tied for third place. They control their destiny. If they win their final regular season contest they will secure a spot in the tournament.
Pac-12 – The Pac-12 does not have a tournament. The regular season winner earns the conference's automatic berth.
The Skinny – Oregon State, 10-4-3 overall with a 6-2-1 mark in conference play, currently sits atop the standings with nineteen points. Stanford is currently in second place with sixteen points. However Oregon State has played two more games than Stanford. Oregon State closes out regular season play when they travel to face Washington on Friday, November 9. Stanford, 9-2-4 overall with a 5-1-1 mark in conference play, has contests remaining with San Diego State and UCLA on the road and California at home.
Patriot League – Six teams qualify for the Patriot League tournament. Loyola Maryland, Lehigh, Colgate, and Boston University have punched their tickets. The seeding and the remaining field will be determined this weekend.
The Skinny – Loyola Maryland won the regular season title and looks to be the team to beat in the tournament. The Patriot League tournament is always up for grabs depending on who gets hot. Keep an eye of Colgate and Lehigh. Both are capable of winning it should Loyola Maryland not bring their A game.
Southern Conference – Mercer, ETSU, Furman, Wofford, UNCG, Belmont and VMI constitute the tournament field.
The Skinny – Belmont topped VMI in the playin game. Wofford faces UNCG with the winner taking on number one seed Mercer. Furman and Belmont square off with the winner advancing to face number two seed ETSU. Mercer's eight game win streak was halted in their final regualr season contest with a 1-0 loss to ETSU. Mercer and ETSU should meet again in the championship. However, it would be a mistake for either of them to look past Furman. The Paladins topped ETSU on the road 2-0 and lost to Mercer 2-1 in overtime during regular season lplay.
Summit League – Four teams qualify for the Summit League Tourney. The seeding and the teams will not be finalized until the games are completed this weekend.
The Skinny – Denver, 12-3-2 oveall with a 3-0-1 mark in conference play, will host the tournament. Denver hosts Oral Roberts on Saturday. If the Pioneers win that contest they will win the Summit League regular season title for the sixth-straight season. If Denver loses and Omaha tops Eastern Illinois then Omaha would secure the regular season title. Denver has had several close contests in league play but if they play to their potential they should win the tourney.
Sun Belt Conference – Six teams earn a berth in the conference tournament. The seeding and the field will not be determined until the contests this weekend have been completed.
The Skinny – Georgia State and Georgia Southern are in contention for the top spot. Georgia Southern faces Coastal Carolina on the road on Friday. If Georgia Southern tops the Chanticleers they will secure the Sun Belt regular season title. Appalachian State and Coastal Carolina are capable of upsetting things.
West Coast Conference – The regular season winner earns the conference's automatic berth. There is no conference tournament.
The Skinny – Saint Mary's, 15-0-1 overall with a 4-0-1 mark in conference play, and Portland, 11-1-3 overall with a 3-1-1 mark in confernce play, are at the top of the standings. Saint Mary's has contests remaining with Gonzaga at home and Portland on the road. Portland faces Pacific on the road on Friday before closing out play against Saint Mary's. The winner of the conference's automatic berth may not be determined until the final day of regualr season play.
Western Athletic Conference – Seven teams earn a berth in the conference tournament. Air Force, UNLV, Seattle, Utah Valley, Grand Canyon, San Jose State and UT Rio Grande Valley are the participants.
The Skinny – A veteran Air Force team, 15-3-0 overall with a 8-2-0 mark in conference play, claimed the regular season title and the number one seed. Regular season losses to CSU Bakersfield and to Grand Canyon establish that Air Force is vulnerable. This tournament is wide open.