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We continue to run down Yahoo! Sports' mid-major conference college basketball previews, conference by conference - bless you Jeff Eisenberg.
Not a lot brewing lately around the internet that we haven't already discussed here at Mid-Major Madness - except, of course, for the yeoman's work Jeff Eisenberg does for Yahoo! Sports' college basketball blog The Dagger - I for one am enjoying the double-whammy of conference preview and interesting feature:
The Atlantic Sun is wide open after Belmont's departure, and a handful of teams have a legitimate shot at ascending to the crown - including surprising USC-Upstate and their...surprising non transfer(?), Torrey Craig.
Out in the Big West, Long Beach State probably graduated the most talent, but they are still the odds-on favorite given how well they have reloaded with transfers to supplement the returning talent - while other programs are making a push to spend money as best they can and upgrade facilities in an effort to keep up with the Joneses (aka Hawaii, Boise State, and San Diego State).
Montana may have lost Will Cherry to a broken foot, but they are still the favorite heading into this season in the Big Sky. That is partly because guys like Kareem Jamar are fully capable of picking up the slack Cherry creates; that is also partly because their only true competition, Weber State, is still hunting for the replacement to the cavity created by Damian Lillard's departure.
We are all aware of the current situation at Long Island University. If some combination of those guys returns, the Blackbirds may well take the conference again. If not, look for Wagner and Robert Morris to duel it out for the title - with perhaps a dark horse shot from little old Sacred Heart and little-known Shane Gibson, who might be the best individual player in the conference.
Over in the Summit League, The South Dakota State Jackrabbits had a great season last go round, and it should be even better this year as they return 80% of their starting rotation, Oral Roberts left the conference, and Oakland graduated the nation's leading scorer. They will enjoy this largely on the shoulders of Nate Wolters, who is learning what it's like to be a big fish in a small pond.
When he finally got around to previewing the Sun Belt Conference, Eisenberg informed everyone of what was already known here - that Middle Tennessee State, North Texas, and South Alabama are the class of the conference, and the final results may come down to just how much a deep team like MTSU will miss the graduated LaRon Dendy, as well as just how talented Augustine Rubit and Tony "The Legacy(?)"Mitchell really are.
Last in this big ol' pile of previews comes the WAC - or what's left of it. Utah State won less than 23 games for the first time in 13 years this past season, but one last WAC title should be aided by the departure of Nevada - if the newly arrived Denver University (21-game winner in the Sun Belt last season) doesn't pipe up into the conversation. Perhaps the bigger question is whether this coming season - which just so happens to be its 50th - will be the last for the WAC, as it only has three member schools after this coming season and may become the first casualty of realignment.