Click below for past conference tournament predictions:
The conference tournaments continue to ramp up this week with four more starting on Thursday. Here's a look at each one.
This one could get messy. There's a lot of balance in this league from top to bottom and the cliche of anyone can beat anyone on any given night rings true. Rider earned the top seed and has a relatively impressive non-conference resume to its name, but they will be tested in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, although ultimately make it to the conference title tilt. Canisius battled Rider as well as anyone in the regular season - both teams split, and each game was decided by one point. I think Canisius is playing a little better overall heading into the conference tourney - and I like the Griffens to advance to the NCAA Tournament.
Missouri Valley Tournament
Mid-majors can often have one team that is head and shoulders above the rest of the league. Loyola (IL) is that squad in the Missouri Valley. The Ramblers cruised through the league in the regular season, and have provided stiff competition for some higher major teams during non-conference play. Loyola will cruise to the automatic qualifier and represent The Valley in the big dance. The bigger surprises here are traditional powers Northern Iowa and Missouri State playing in the opening round. UNI has been playing better of late, but Missouri State looks like a train wreck going in. I think Valparaiso beats Missouri State & #2 seed Southern Illinois (not playing well going in either) before falling to Illinois State in the semis.
Southern Conference Tournament
This is another tricky league to navigate. East Tennessee State had the #1 seed all but locked up, but dropped three straight games to close the regular season, giving the #1 seed to UNC Greensboro. I think ETSU will escape an upset in the quarterfinal round, but it will be Furman going to the title game where the Paladins could actually pull the upset and get the auto bid. I'm going with UNCG, but watch that potential semifinal matchup against Mercer. Mercer has won this league before and they have posed a dangerous threat to UNCG during the regular season.
West Coast Conference Tournament
This conference seems to come down to Gonzaga and Saint Mary's ever year, and this season is no different. The Zags and Gaels have proven once again they are by far the two best teams in this league and it will be a shock if it's not those two squaring off in the title match. If any team were to have a shot it would be BYU, however, the Cougars come in playing very poorly down the stretch, and I think San Diego will pull the upset in the quarterfinals. Gonzaga and Saint Mary's split in the regular season, but I'll give the edge to the Zags for all the marbles.
Up Next: Only one tournament tips-off on Friday. A preview of the Horizon League tourney will drop tomorrow (3/1).