It's been a fun ride so far, has it not? Click below for all the previous conference tournament predictions:
20 of 32 tournaments have been covered - and today we breakdown ALL 10 that tip-off starting on Wednesday. It's beefy, but here's a look at each league going into their respective tournaments.
Atlantic 10 Tournament
It gets challenging to predict big tournaments that include 1st round games, teams with byes, and teams with double byes. Some teams that play early on can actually do damage because they'll get hot while a team sitting around the first couple days of the tournament may come out cold and get caught off guard. The flip side of that, of course, is that it's very difficult for teams to go in and win 3 or 4 games in 3 or 4 days straight with no days off. As far as the Atlantic 10 tournament is concerned, I think Rhode Island is the head of the class and the Rams will prove it by winning the tourney title. I also think the teams that are more rested will have a distinct advantage which is why I see few upsets taking place. Rake me over the coals when I'm dead wrong.
Big East Tournament
This will be a fun one. I know, I know. You're looking at my bracket and you're thinking I don't know what I'm talking about because it's basically chalk (that's when all the higher seeds win throughout a tournament - for those aren't in the know). So let me be honest - I'm not all that confident with these selections. I played it safe. Lame, I know. The reality is there are a lot of contenders here - at one point of filling this out I actually had Seton Hall winning the whole thing. I think Providence could make a run. Heck, even 10 seed DePaul and 9 seed St. John's have proven they're capable of pulling an upset or two during the regular season. But when trying to find the balance between making a prediction, and being smart, I have to go with Xavier and Villanova because they are the two best squads in the conference. Prove me right 'Nova, please!
Big 12 Tournament
OK - now we should be getting to somewhere that might start to grab your attention. The Big 12 has big storylines entering this tournament. Can Oklahoma turn things around and salvage their spot in the NCAA Tournament? Is Texas Tech legit? Will KU use a partisan KC crowd to its advantage? Can you trust West Virginia? Oklahoma is the most intriguing character of the bunch. Despite losing by 30 not long ago to KU, I actually think they could bounce the Jayhawks. BUT - then I remember this tournament is played in Kansas City - and if you don't think that's a big deal just ask the South Dakota teams that play the Summit League Tournament in Sioux Falls. I think Texas can make a run here - including knocking off #2 seed Texas Tech. West Virigina is a capable team - but they've had some head scratchers during the regular season. Despite it all, however, I'm going with the Mountaineers to take home the title.
Conference USA Tournament
There's a cinderella lurking in the C-USA tournament and it goes by UAB. I've got the Blazers making a big run here as the #6 seed to the championship game. I'm using recent history to justify in the lofty run - UAB defeated first round foe Florida Atlantic 75-44 in the regular season. While FAU may be a different team and come out ready for battle - a 31 point defeat says something - UAB only needs to outscore FAU by 1 point to advance, after all. Next, UAB defeated Western Kentucky 101-73 in the regular season finale. I think they can get the job done twice - and again, maybe not by the same 28 point margin, but enough to get the W. Lastly, they took Old Dominion to the wire on the road and only lost by five. The redemption factor carries the Blazers here. Unfortunately the magical run ends there as I believe Middle Tennesse State will claim the auto-bid to the big dance.
Mountain West Tournament
There's another 6 seed I like in the Mountain West. Wyoming has shown it can play some good basketball and I'm counting on the Cowboys to show up in Las Vegas to make a run. Again, the matchups dictate a good path. Wyoming, like everyone, had no trouble knocking off San Jose State in the regular season - that one is easy. A taller task comes against New Mexico, but Wyoming recently played the Loboes in a 119-114 showdown in Laramie that did not go the Cowboys way. I like the revenge factor there. I think the roll they will be on at that point carries over into another upset over Boise State to get the the title game. Nevada, however, will end the cinderella run in the championship.
Now here is where the wild west really resides. This tournament has a history of some crazy results and I think this year will be no different. Arizona is the top seed, but they're dealing with a mess from their head coach. It hasn't derailed the Wildcats yet, but it gives enough reason not to trust them too much. 2 seed USC has shown flaws throughout the season too - don't trust 'em. 3 seed Utah has quietly put together a good run, but I don't think they have the overall talent to get the job done. 4 seed UCLA bugs me - and yes - it's got something to do with Lonzo Ball and that whole circus. Watch the Bruins win this whole thing because I basically picked agains them out of spite. Instead we'll focus on the dark horses and I see two capable of making this tournament interesting. Give me Stanford and Oregon to do the damage and disurpt the whole thing by making the tournament championship match with the Ducks claiming the top prize.
The SEC appears to be as strong as any league out there this season, and yet, I can find reasons to question the strength of the top 4 seeds here too. I think we're likely to see a couple of surprises in this one, and I've chosen to go with Texas A&M and Missouri. I think those teams are poised to do some damage. In the end, however, I think Tennesses is the most stable of the higher seeds, and getting the benefit to play in their home state for this tournament, will play a factor into the Volunteers hositing the SEC trophy when it's all said and done.
Here again, the format of the Southland tournament makes it trickier to project. Most 8-team tournaments have a straight bracket with quarterfinals, semifinals, and championship with everyone playing in each round. Not so in the Southland. There's two teams with byes, and two teams with double byes. Who may benefit from that is yet to be seen, but I like Stephen F. Austin to get the title game where top seed SE Louisiana doubles down on its regular season title with a conference championship to add to its successful year.
Sun Belt Tournament
I do like another top seeded team from Louisiana in this conference tournament. The Ragin' Cajuns have been the top squad all year in this league and I think they have what it takes to get the job done. A dark horse team to watch is Troy. They appear to be playing some good ball heading into the tournament and I like them to make a run the semifinal round.
There's four conference tournaments that play in Las Vegas, including the WAC. Makes it easy to take a gamble, right? New Mexico State has been head and shoulders above the crowd here, but I'm going with Grand Canyon in an upset to win it all. Trust me, you'll like their storyline. This is the first year Grand Canyon is eligible for the big dance - Northern Kentucky punched its ticket in their first year of eligibilty last year. The Antelopes are lead by former NBA player Dan Majerle. They play in a 7,000 seat arena in Phoenix, AZ that is regulary sold out - with 3,500 students cheering them on. And, whether this makes a difference in any way or not, they are the only for-proft school in Division One. Granted, that last tid-bit may turn you off the Antelopes, but given everything else, I think it'd be pretty neat to see GCU dancing.