This is part of a series of posts going up on December 26. Let's look back at everyone's performance in the non-conference schedule and take inventory on where everyone is at.
We'll use this post to cover relevant teams in the rest of the country.
Green Bay (7-3) scheduled up a bit as the Horizon favorites, but lost a couple of swing games (@Georgia St and N-UC Irvine), and has decent wins (N-Evansville, N-FGCU, @Miami) that just might not be enough. It's tough to imagine them hanging in the bubble race. Valparaiso (9-2) has a SoS-assisted good record. What's shocking is the league only has one other team over. 500 right now in Wright St.
Going into the season, it was UC Irvine (5-5), Long Beach St (4-8), and UC Santa Barbara (3-6) that figured to be the contenders. All have been decent-to-worse this year so far. There could be seeding issues in March. The two teams racing out front at the moment are UC Davis (8-1) against a very marginal schedule and Hawaii (8-4), who did at least beat Colorado and Nebraska.
Buffalo (9-2) figured to be the team of record. Good schedule, but no signature wins. Their computer numbers lead the conference right now. Two of the Michigans, Central Michigan (7-1) and Eastern Michigan (7-2) are posting good records and wins at B1G schools (CMU > Northwestern; EMU > Michigan St), but are probably too far away from the bubble right now. Going into the year, I thought Toledo (7-4), Western Michigan (6-4), and Akron (6-4) would be the teams that mattered. If nothing else, the MAC race is going to be crowded and they should spread good computer numbers across the league.
The CAA is a bit tricky to figure out. I figured Northeastern (7-4) for the conference head, and there's wins over @Florida St and WMU on here. I don't think anyone else in here gets close enough to matter even for the NIT.
Harvard (6-2) scheduled well enough; that N-Holy Cross loss really stings for seeding purposes. Wins over N'eastern and UMass could be handy. They'll get pushed by Yale (8-4) in the conference, who did beat UConn on the road. Columbia (6-4) has done enough with results and schedule to earn the right to be called a third banana in this conference.
Old Dominion (10-1) is the revelation of the league so far. Very good non-con SoS, good wins (N-LSU, VCU, Ga St). That neutral loss to Illinois St is devastating right now. They're in the at-large picture right now.
Louisiana Tech (8-4) was supposed to be the favorite. But the schedule has turned out to be sub-300. The loss at Louisiana-Lafayette hurts bad. While the other 3 losses are also road losses and good ones, this does mean they're whiffing on all their quality win chances. They've struck out. UTEP scheduled up and did beat N-Xavier. They could be in play, as only the @New Mexico St loss looks bad right now.
Usually the conference is good enough to be on the fringes of relevancy; this year just Iona (7-4) is close enough, and that may be stretching it.
Stephen F Austin (6-3), after years of poor scheduling, finally manned up. They're ranked somewhere around 100, which is fine for them. Their 3 losses are fine (UNI, @Xavier, @Baylor) and it means the win at Memphis carries a bit of weight. Not sure about an at-large bid, but their seeding will be reward enough.
Do you believe Eastern Washington has played a top 15 non-con SoS? Me neither. The win at Indiana was a nice boon, and 3 of the losses came in a row in a brutal road trip (Washington, SHSU, Cal). No at-large bid coming here, but a nice seed could.
Right now Wofford (7-3) has sterling computer numbers. That and a win at NC State will help their seed in March.
Georgia St (6-3) was supposed to be one of the big players in mid-major basketball this year. Their losses are all perfectly fine (@Iowa St, @Colorado St, @ODU), and they did beat Green Bay at home.
Every other conference, it's tough to find any teams that would be in contention for a 13 seed or better in March.