This year may be the most interesting yet as far as setting the field will go, with a lot of that intrigue coming from the fact that West and Midwest/East will not play each other at all before the tourney. You have Gonzaga, Western Washington, Western Oregon, Concordia, and Cal State Fullerton as the real hopefuls out west, and all of them will finish their regular season schedules without even the slightest semblance of a quality win except the games amongst themselves. There is not even a middle of the road team out west that they can blow out to show off; everyone besides those five teams out west is absolutely dreadful.
Hopefully the only tournament spots taken by western teams are the 3 conference champions (likely WCLL-SMC, SLC-CSF/Concordia, and PNCLL-WOU). I say hopefully because of the sheer number of SELC, UMLL, and CCLA teams with strong resumes and quality non-conference wins. In no particular order, Dayton, St. John's, St. Thomas, Indiana Tech, Grand Valley State, North Dakota St., Grove City, Elon, and FGCU are all but locked in the field and certainly have an inside track on any SLC or PNCLL team's resume. So without further adieu, the early projected tournament field.
1. Dayton, Runs table in CCLA tourney, comes in with one loss to UST (CCLA Champ) 2. St. Thomas, maybe drops 1 out of 3 or 4 games against NDSU and SJU (UMLC Champ) 3. SJU/NDSU, who beats St. Thomas, who wins versus each other decides this spot 4. SJU/NDSU 5. Grand Valley St, beats ITU at season's end, beats GCU in a tourney matchup 6. Elon/FGCU, whichever one (if either) can win the SELC conference tourney (SELC Champ) 7. Grove City 8. FGCU/Elon, likely the second strongest team/runner up in SELC tourney 9. Indiana Tech, Beat UST, lost only to strong tournament teams seeded ahead of them. 10. Western Oregon, PNCLL Champion comes into a fantastic matchup against Grove City undefeated. 11. Palm Beach Atlantic, Could be in trouble if they don't get a win against FGCU and get eliminated from SELC by anyone but Elon or FGCU 12. Coast Guard, PCLL Champion 13. Depaul, GRLC Champion, LBU and DePaul tried to schedule some tough OOC games, props for that, they just lost them all 14. Concordia, SLC Champion 15. St. Mary's, WCLL Champion 16. Fort Lewis RMLC Champion
Obviously there are some if/thens here, but I'm excited just thinking about these match ups.