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ncaa tournament

As Conference Season Rolls On, Which NYC-Area Schools Have a Chance at the NCAA Tournament?

Long Island players celebrate after defeating Robert Morris 85-82 in overtime to win the Northeast Conference Championship NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, March 9, 2011 in New York. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Yesterday afternoon, the esteemed Joe Lunardi of — whom we sometimes think exists solely to be yelled at by Jay Bilas and Bob Knight during the months of February and March — released his Bracketology predictions. These are about as scientific as an Iowa straw poll that shows Michele Bachmann winning, but that doesn't make them any less fun. Well, unless you cheer for an NYC-area team.

Last year, somewhat historically — no team from the city had reached the tournament since Manhattan in 2004 — both St. John's and Long Island made the tournament, though neither team was able to win a game. (Long Island was probably closer.) This year, if Lunardi is to be believed, the odds are pointing against it: He has no NYC teams in his predictions.

Some good news, though: He does have the Northeast Conference's Robert Morris as a No. 14 seed, and LIU is currently tied with them for the conference lead. That league obviously isn't getting two bids, but winning the conference tournament could conceivably keep the champ out of that ugly No. 16 vs. No. 16 game.

St. John's is 7-7 and pretty far out of any at-large consideration, and, despite that happy upset over Harvard last night, Fordham will have to win its conference tournament, too. In fact, any NYC-area team that wants to make the Big Dance is going to have to win their conference tournament: That's usually the only play for teams other than St. John's, and this year is no different.

So: What are the odds of any of that happening? Ken Pomeroy, of the eponymous rankings, ran a series of simulations last week trying to decipher the most likely team to win each individual conference. He ran 10,000 simulations and listed the number of times each team won. Now, remember, this is the regular-season title, not the postseason tournament title, so this doesn't necessarily stand for the odds of a team making the tournament. (Except for Columbia in the Ivy League, which annoyingly still has no postseason tournament.) But it gives you an idea.

Henceforth: The late-December Pomeroy odds for each NYC team to win their conference, with total number of simulated wins out of 10,000:

Wagner (NEC): 4,392
Long Island (NEC): 728
Manhattan (MAAC): 311
Columbia (Ivy): 182
St. Francis (NEC): 4
Fordham (A-10): 0
St. John's (Big East): 0

So ... go Wagner?

Photo: Bill Kostroun/AP