Conference Tournaments: Title, bracket scenarios ahead of final regular season weekend

Regular season title and tournament seeding scenarios for every conference.

conference tournament scenarios

Although it feels as if Opening Day was just yesterday, we’ve somehow arrived at the final regular season weekend of the 2024 D-I season. Twists and turns have abounded and now the final jostling takes place for regular season titles, conference tournament seedings, and more. In this article, we’ll walk through each and every conference’s outlook ahead of the final weekend.

America East (7 teams, 6 make postseason)

Regular Season Champion: Bryant

For the first time since joining the conference, Bryant secured the regular season title as it enters the weekend at 16-5 in conference play, four games ahead of UMBC. The Bulldogs started the year just 1-7 but have gone 30-10 since then — winning six of seven America East series.

UMBC, UMass Lowell (who finished its conference slate), and NJIT are all in alongside Bryant. Outside of Bryant, no seeding has been determined. That leaves three teams fighting for two spots with Binghamton (9-12) and Albany (8-12) in at the moment ahead of defending regular season and tournament champion Maine (7-13).

As for matchups, UMBC faces Bryant as they’ll attempt to maintain the No. 2 seed. NJIT hosts Binghamton with a 2.5-game lead on the Bearcats — who were the preseason favorites. The series of the weekend will be Albany traveling to Maine. The Black Bears are keen to avoid missing the postseason and have a golden chance should they take two of three from the Great Danes.

ACC (14 teams, 12 make postseason)

Regular Season Champion: TBD
Atlantic Division Champion: TBD
Coastal Division Champion: North Carolina

At 20-7 in conference play, North Carolina has already clinched the Coastal Division title — for the first time since 2018 — and just need a single win this weekend to secure the ACC regular season title and No. 1 seed in the upcoming tournament. Clemson faltered this past weekend — they were swept by Wake Forest — and fell off the pace. The Tiger still hold a 1.5-game lead for the Atlantic Division over Florida State and NC State.

On the periphery, Boston College and Pittsburgh are currently out but yet to be eliminated. Both teams sit at 8-19 overall and are within a game of Notre Dame (9-18) and two games of Miami (10-17). Those are the only two teams they could catch to sneak into the conference’s 12-team field.

The Eagles draw the difficult task of heading to Clemson, who will be looking to secure the Atlantic Division title on their home field. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, gets exactly what they need: A three-game set with Miami. While it’s on the road, it does give the Panthers a chance to play their way into the postseason.

Other matchups will decide seeding. Florida State hosts Georgia Tech, NC State welcomes in Wake Forest, Notre Dame heads to Louisville, North Carolina faces Duke, and Virginia Tech heads to Virginia.

American Athletic (10 teams, 8 make postseason)

Regular Season Champion: TBD

A week ago it appeared that the title was all but East Carolina’s. The Pirates led the conference by three games and a sweep of Tulane would’ve clinched a share of the title. Instead, the Green Wave — much like they did in last year’s tournament — played spoiler and came away with a sweep of their own. Now, ECU clings to a one-game lead on second-place UTSA while Tulane and Wichita State both sit three games back.

A title is straightforward for the Pirates — if they win at least two games, UTSA can only catch them with a sweep. If that happened, the Roadrunners would secure the top seed thanks to taking two of three from ECU back in late March. The Pirates have the benefit of playing at home this week against Rice while UTSA travels to Florida Atlantic.

Both of their opponents are mired in a four-team logjam at 11-13 in conference play that sits a game above the cut-off line. The other two — UAB and Charlotte — face South Florida and Tulane, respectively. That first matchup — between UAB and USF — is essentially a play-in series. The Blazers can create distance and climb in the seedings or slip out of the playoff picture altogether. USF is trying to erase a game deficit and get on the right side of the line.

The last series is between Wichita State and Memphis. The Tigers sit in last place by a game but aren’t eliminated while Wichita State has a two-game lead for a top-four seed and a chance to climb.

Atlantic Sun (12 teams, 8 make postseason)

Regular Season Champion: TBD

A fascinating title race comes down to the final weekend with five teams all in the hunt:

  • Austin Peay (18-9, control its destiny as it hosts North Alabama)
  • Stetson (17-10, 1 GB, hosts Central Arkansas)
  • FGCU (17-10, 1 GB, travels to North Florida)
  • Jacksonville (17-10, 1 GB, travels to Eastern Kentucky)
  • Kennesaw State (16-10, 1.5 GB, hosts Lipscomb).

Lipscomb — in sixth — is technically still in the race for a share of the title at three games back, but it’d require quite a remarkable set of circumstances. Ultimately, it’s the above five teams — all playing different opponents — that will be scoreboard watching throughout the weekend. All the leading Governors need to do is to win at least two games for a share, but the pressure is on with three teams within a single game.

On the other side of things, there are three teams tied for the eighth and final spot and all three play a top three side. It’ll be interesting to see how that group shakes out — it wouldn’t be a surprise if the eight teams currently in match the final eight.

Atlantic 10 (12 teams, 7 make postseason)

Regular Season Champion: TBD

The Atlantic 10’s seven-team tournament field has 10 teams in play for it heading into the final weekend, making it yet another competitive set of series. At the top, Saint Louis holds a 1.5-game lead on second-place Dayton and VCU, needing just two victories to claim the regular season title. The Billikens came up just short against George Mason in last year’s A10 Championship final and will be looking to make another deep run.

To do so, they’ll face a Massachusetts side currently in the field but by the slimmest of margins. The Minutemen are just a game away from the cutoff line and will have plenty to play for. The same goes for second-place Dayton, who hosts Rhode Island — the Rams need at least two wins and some things to break their way to get back into the field. VCU has the toughest test by record, facing a Richmond side that is 12-9 and just 1.5 games back of the Rams.

Another series of note is George Washington facing Saint Joseph’s — just a game separates the two and neither is assured a place in the field. Davidson, finally, could make things interesting with a sweep of defending conference title-winner George Mason provided that at least one of the team’s tied for sixth gets swept.

Big 12 (13 teams, 10 make postseason)

Regular Season Champion: Oklahoma

Oklahoma cruised to a conference title, going 21-6 in Big 12 play and enter the final weekend on a six-game winning streak. It was the program’s first regular season crown and came after they won 13 of their last 15 conference games. After the Sooners, the ten-team field has been set — UCF, Cincinnati, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech and West Virginia — but the seedings are far from decided.

Second-place Oklahoma State has the benefit of facing Houston as the Cowboys attempt to hold off a couple of teams that are right there with them. West Virginia has to travel to TCU while Texas hosts Kansas. Cincinnati, winners of five straight, face the Sooners with no seeding to play for while Kansas State hosts BYU, Baylor hosts UCF, and Texas Tech is off.

Big East (8 teams, 4 make postseason)

Regular Season Champion: TBD

While the playoff spots have been decided — UConn, St. John’s, Georgetown, and Xavier are anywhere from eight to five games above the bottom half of the league table — the order has not been. Here’s how the final weekend shapes up:

  • UConn at Butler
  • Georgetown at St. John’s
  • Villanova at Xavier
  • Seton Hall at Creighton

UConn fans are likely breathing easy with the schedule. They get a series against Butler, who sits in last, while the two closest competitors — St. John’s (1 GB) and Georgetown (2.5 GB) — play each other.

Big South (9 teams, 4 make postseason)

Regular Season Champion: TBD

A riveting title race comes down to High Point and Presbyterian — although USC Upstate, who has wrapped up its Big South slate, could pull off the improbable should the two above suffer unexpected sweeps.

High Point heads to Gardner-Webb while Presbyterian travels to UNC Asheville. Both will be keeping a close eye on the other’s score — with the Panthers holding the tiebreaker after a sweep back in late April. Either team would be the first new regular season title winner in quite some time after Campbell’s reign over the conference, which dates back to 2017.

The other question mark is around who will join the top three teams at the conference tournament. UNC Asheville sits fifth by a game but draws High Point, while Charleston Southern heads to a struggling Winthrop side. Longwood (at Radford) could pile up some wins, but can’t catch Charleston Southern thanks to the tiebreaker.

Big Ten (10 teams, 8 make postseason)

Regular Season Champion: TBD

One correction: The 10-11 teams are Michigan State, Maryland, then Ohio State.

The conference with arguably the most at stake is the Big Ten: In a league in which eight teams make it, 11 of the 13 total are still alive entering the final weekend. Only Rutgers and Northwestern have been eliminated and just 2.5 games separate the first six teams — while one game separates the next five. Here’s how it sets up with only Iowa (currently 6th) not playing a conference series:

  • Illinois (1st) at Purdue (T-3rd)
  • Nebraska (2nd) at Michigan State (T-7th)
  • Michigan (T-3rd) at Indiana (T-3rd)
  • Penn State (T-10th) at Maryland (T-7th)
  • Ohio St. (T-7th) at Rutgers (eliminated)
  • Minnesota (T-10th) at Northwestern (eliminated)

There are all kinds of scenarios we could go through, but one thing is true: Illinois controls its destiny. Winning two games would guarantee at least a share of the title, a sweep would secure it. Nebraska will be hoping the Fighting Illni slip up and they can take care of business against a Michigan State side mired in a three-team tie for the final spot. Purdue could make things mighty interesting if they can steal a series from Illinois. And so on. One thing is for sure: A lot of teams have a lot to play for and it should make for a fantastic set of series’.

Coastal Athletic Association (12 teams, 6 make postseason)

Regular Season Champion: TBD

Half the field is set: UNCW and Charleston secured top two seeds and first-round byes, while Northeastern secured its spot as well last week. Fourth-place Delaware is right there as well, needing a lone win or Hofstra loss to secure their spot, which sets up six teams fighting for two spots. Plus, there’s the matter of determining a regular season champion as well. Here’s how it shakes out:

  • UNCW at Delaware
  • Charleston at Elon
  • Stony Brook at Northeastern
  • Campbell at William & Mary
  • Monmouth at Hofstra
  • N.C. A&T at Towson

Of these matchups: UNCW is in the drivers seat for the regular season title, but has a tougher task against Delaware than Charleston (a half-game back) does against Elon. Both are on the road, though.

Conference USA (9 teams, 8 make postseason)

Regular Season Champion: TBD

Another set of tied teams atop a conference: Dallas Baptist and Louisiana Tech enter the weekend at 15-6. Should they go stride-for-stride in the final weekend, Tech holds the tiebreaker thanks to taking two of three on the road back in the end of April.

Louisiana Tech heads to fourth-place Liberty — who are 7-2 at home in CUSA play. DBU, meanwhile, travels to Middle Tennessee. The Blue Raiders hold the final playoff spot at the moment thanks to a two-game advantage on Jacksonville State, who faces fifth-place Sam Houston.

Third-place Western Kentucky technically could finish first should they manage a sweep of New Mexico State and the two teams ahead of them go winless on the weekend.

Horizon League (6 teams, all make postseason)

Regular Season Champion: TBD

With all six teams making the postseason, the only thing left to settle is the order — and the regular season champion. Fittingly, the top two teams in the conference face each other this weekend.

Wright State, up by two games, hosts Northern Kentucky. The Raiders need a single win to clinch the title but the Norse have a chance to pull off quite the season-ending sweep to win it all. They’re facing an uphill battle: Wright State is 41-8 historically against the Norse and took two of three in mid-April.

Elsewhere, third-place Oakland heads to face Purdue Fort Wayne while Milwaukee hosts Youngstown State.

MAAC (11 teams, 9 make postseason)

Regular Season Champion: TBD

A fourth straight MAAC Regular Season Championship is in sight for Fairfield, who enters this weekend’s series against Quinnipiac having won 19 league series in a row dating back to 2022. The Stags simply need a series win to clinch the conference and fend off the likes of Niagara and Rider.

Quinnipiac — on the outside of the six-team bracket thanks to a series loss to Manhattan — will have an uphill task to sneak in. Niagara and Rider will be rooting for the Bobcats as they take on Canisius and Manhattan, respectively.

Mid-American (11 teams, 4 make postseason)

Regular Season Champion: Bowling Green

For the first time since 2009, Bowling Green — a program that was eliminated in May of 2020 and reinstated a few weeks later — claimed the MAC regular season title thanks to a 21-6 record. There’s quite a logjam behind the Falcons: Five teams are within a game and a half and competing for the final three spots.

Second-place Western Michigan draws last-place Central Michigan, while Ball State heads to Kent State in a matchup of two of the three teams tied for third. Toledo faces Bowling Green, while the final team within playoff reach — Miami (OH) — would need some things to break right as they’re out of conference play.

Missouri Valley (10 teams, 8 make postseason)

Regular Season Champion: Indiana State

For the second year in a row, Indiana State claimed the Missouri Valley regular season championship after winning a series over Evansville — the first time the Sycamores have claimed back-to-back outright titles. After ISU, there’s a crowded field of teams that are aiming to finish at fifth or above to avoid the first two play-in games.

UIC and Evansville — tied for second at 15-9 — meet in what should be a great series. Murray State, tied for fourth, draws last-place Bradley while Illinois State hosts Belmont.

Mountain West (7 teams, 4 make postseason)

Regular Season Champion: TBD

Four teams will advance to the Mountain West Championship at Tony Gwynn Stadium next week and quite a bit is up in the air. Five teams are vying for those spots — and all are within two games of first.

Fresno State is tied for first but heads to Air Force who sits just a game back of the Bulldogs. They do have the benefit of taking two of three from the Falcons back in late March — including a thorough 18-4 win in the series finale.

New Mexico, co-leaders, also has to hit the road and face San Jose State — who are just two games back of first. They did take two of three from the Spartans in late March. The fifth team in the mix is Nevada, which gets the benefit of playing at home and against last-place San Diego State. There are quite a few scenarios, but should the order remain unchanged, Fresno State holds the tiebreaker over New Mexico.

Northeast Conference (12 teams, 6 make postseason)

Regular Season Champion: TBD

Four of the six spots in the NEC Tournament have been clinched but the champion is still up in the air. Sacred Heart secures it with a series win (outright with a sweep) and while they’ve struggled on the road — just 12-17 vs. 18-4 at home — the Pioneers are facing last-place Maryland Eastern Shore. The Hawks are a painful 0-45 on the year.

LIU, who faces Coppin State, will hope UMES can steal its first win of the year to aid its bid for a title. Wagner hosts Fairleigh Dickinson — who is right on the cusp — while Central Connecticut and Delaware State meet in a massive matchup. A game-and-a-half separate the two and the Blue Devils are looking to continue their recent postseason success.

Ohio Valley (10 teams, 8 make postseason)

Regular Season Champion: TBD

Preseason favorite Little Rock is in the drivers seat but draws a tough opponent as they aim to see out the title. They’ll head to face fourth-place Tennessee Tech, who has a sterling 9-3 record at home in OVC play. Southeast Missouri State — a game back — will hope the Trojans slip up while they host UT Martin. Morehead State also lurks, having won its last five conference series to climb back into the race, and sit just two games off the pace.

The conference is crowded from top to bottom — only eight games separate the 10 teams overall. That means Lindenwood (hosting Eastern Illinois) and Western Illinois (at Southern Indiana) have a chance to fight their way back in. They’re playing the last two teams in the field as of now, setting the stage for some potential late dramatics.

Pac-12 (11 teams, 9 make postseason)

Regular Season Champion: TBD

The final season of Pac-12 baseball comes to a close and it is shaping up for a fantastic finish. First place Arizona hosts second-place Oregon State with the conference title on the line — it doesn’t get much better than that. A single victory for the Wildcats would secure a sixth Pac-12 crown but they’ll face a stiff test in the Beavers, who swept the 2023 series and have won five straight.

There’ll surely be jostling between the next five teams in the standings, although Arizona State’s conference slate is wrapped up at 17 wins. Oregon heads to Washington State — a team that is a game back of rival Washington for the final postseason spot — while Utah travels to Southern California, California hosts Washington, and Stanford heads to UCLA.

SEC (14 teams, 12 make postseason)

Regular Season Champion: TBD
East Division Champion: TBD
West Division Champion: TBD

Nine teams have clinched a postseason berth entering the final weekend of conference play — but four enter with a chance to win the conference or division championship while the seeding is very much still in question.

Kentucky, at 20-7, controls its path to a conference championship for the first time since 2006. The Wildcats would at least get a share with two wins against Vanderbilt — and secure it outright with a sweep of the Commodores. Arkansas and Tennessee, both 19-8, are in the hunt as well. Should the Wildcats take two of three, sweeps from either team would secure them a share. Arkansas draws a difficult road series at Texas A&M while Tennessee hosts another ranked team in South Carolina.

The Aggies could get a share of the title with quite the scenario: They sweep Arkansas, Tennessee drops at least two of three, and Vanderbilt sweeps Kentucky.

Elsewhere, Arkansas needs just one win to take the SEC West title while Kentucky, as mentioned above, is in the drivers seat to win the SEC East. Byes in the SEC Tournament go to the top four teams with Kentucky and Tennessee having secured those and Arkansas, Texas A&M, and Georgia battling for the last two.

Only one team has been eliminated thus far: Auburn. Missouri’s chances are minuscule as they face Mississippi State needing both a sweep and some help. Ole Miss and LSU play each other while Florida heads to Georgia. A win by one of those three secures their spot while a Missouri loss would seal its fate.

Southern Conference (8 teams, 8 make postseason)

Regular Season Champion: TBD

Last week, UNC Greensboro secured a series win over Samford in emphatic fashion: Jake Ogden hit a walk-off three-run home run that ended the Spartans’ SoCon schedule at 15-6. Now, they’ll be watching from afar as they face USC Upstate and hope to secure the regular season title.

Samford, at 13-5, hosts fifth-place Wofford. Three wins for the Bulldogs would secure the title while two would mean a share of it — although Ogden’s home run means UNC Greensboro holds the tiebreaker. Wofford will be hoping to move up out of the first set of games in the tournament.

East Tennessee State is in non-conference play, which means Western Carolina — who heads to VMI — has a chance to improve its seeding (as does Wofford). Ultimately, it’ll be the Wofford vs. Samford series that most eyes will be on.

Southland (9 teams, 8 make postseason)

Regular Season Champion: TBD

There are some juicy matchups in the Southland to close out the regular season and decide the conference champion and No. 1 seed in the tournament. Lamar enters the weekend with a one-game lead on Nicholls but heads to third-place New Orleans. It’s a big series as the Privateers are just two games back and boast a sterling 20-10 record at home.

Nicholls, meanwhile, hosts McNeese. The Colonels are also strong at home, posting a 15-8 record at Ray E. Didier Field. Elsewhere in the league, Houston Christian will attempt to climb into the playoffs with a home series against Incarnate Word while Texas A&M Corpus Christi and Southeastern Louisiana battle knowing the narrow margins they’re facing.

Sun Belt (14 teams, 10 make postseason)

Regular Season Champion: TBD (Louisiana clinched a share)

Last week provided some clarity to the Sun Belt field as it’s now 11 teams competing for 10 spots, essentially. The No. 1 seed already belongs to Louisiana and all the Ragin’ Cajuns need to do to take the outright title is one win over South Alabama or a Southern Miss loss.

Southern Miss hosts Texas State, who sits tied for the final spot in the field. The Golden Eagles will look to fend off Troy, who sits a game back and hosts James Madison. App State follows with a home series against Georgia Southern. Those four teams all fall within two games of each other in third-through-fifth, making them pivotal series.

There’s a three-team tie for seventh, with Coastal Carolina, South Alabama, and Old Dominion. Odds are high that Coastal — who heads to Marshall — will emerge atop that group as the Jaguars have to face Louisiana while Old Dominion gets Georgia State. That last series could see the Panthers sneak into the field and replace ODU with a series win.

SWAC (12 teams, 8 make postseason)

Regular Season Champion: TBD
East Division Champion: TBD
West Division Champion: TBD

The East Division will likely be wrapped up for Florida A&M this weekend — they have a 1.5-game lead on Bethune-Cookman and face last-place Mississippi Valley State. Bethune-Cookman faces Alabama State with the second seed in the East all but wrapped up. Jackson State is assured of a postseason spot ahead of its matchup with Alabama A&M.

In the West, things are tighter — Texas Southern leads Grambling by a single game. All four playoff teams have been settled but the order could change quickly. Texas Southern faces Arkansas-Pine Bluff — a team they swept in mid-April — and should win the West. Southern swept Grambling the last time they met, which could allow the Jaguars to climb as high as the two seed. That depends on Prairie View’s results against Alcorn State, who has won just five SWAC games.

The Summit League (6 teams, 4 make postseason)

Regular Season Champion: TBD

A tight Summit League race comes down to the final weekend and includes four teams with a tie, making for some interesting tiebreakers. Additionally, the top three teams all face the bottom three teams in the standings. St. Thomas paces the conference and look to win two of three games against Oral Roberts to secure a title for the first time in program history. Unfortunately for the Tommies, a tournament berth is not in the cards as they continue their five-year transition to the D-1 level.

That leaves five teams fighting for four spots, with North Dakota State and Omaha the only two teams that have clinched a spot. North Dakota State faces Northern Colorado — who holds the fourth seed at the moment but has just a half game lead on South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits host Omaha, who is just a half-game back of NDSU for the No. 1 seed.

West Coast (9 teams, 6 make postseason)

Regular Season Champion: San Diego

A sweep of San Francisco last week sealed the deal for San Diego as they claimed the regular season title for the first time since 2015. The Toreros are off this week and the seeding for the rest of the six-team WCC tournament field remains to be sorted.

The biggest series of the weekend is in Oregon: Portland hosts Saint Mary’s in a matchup of the two teams tied for second. Gonzaga, meanwhile, faces Pepperdine — who has a chance to catch LMU ahead of them in the standings. LMU is at home against last-place San Francisco, however. Santa Clara is pretty entrenched in the fifth spot and faces Pacific.

Western Athletic (11 teams, 8 make postseason)

Regular Season Champion: Grand Canyon

Another year, another Grand Canyon title. The Lopes won their fourth straight regular season title last weekend with a win over Abilene Christian. The WAC’s eight-team tournament field is set as well but the order of teams is far from it. Just three games separate the five teams after Grand Canyon.

Second-place Utah Valley draws the unfortunate assignment of facing Grand Canyon, which could see them drop. Three teams are tied at 16-11 and in third place: California Baptist heads to Utah Tech, Abilene Christian hosts Seattle, and Tarleston heads to UT Arlington. That last series is the most interesting as just two games separate them in the standings. The final two teams in the field — UT Rio Grande Valley and Sacramento State — play as well.