The little guys for lack of a better word, all of the tournaments that start today so you can get in on the action before they get kickstarted! These were written the other day so streaks and odds are subject to change.
Atlantic 10-VCU +440
Vince Williams Jr is someone that you will hear about in the coming weeks if you haven’t yet. He leads this hot VCU team in virtually every statistic. However, they are a well-rounded team that can have any player go off at any time, 3 guys that average double digits. They have won 11 of their last 12 and have split with Davidson who is the regular season #1, Davidson also might not be as motivated with an at-large bid possibly on the table whereas VCU is being looked at as a little brother in the eyes of the committee it feels like
Big East-Villanova +165 (Creighton +1400)
The Big East has been very impressive this year. I’m going to go with Villanova for the sole reason of ‘been there, done that’. They are a very impressive team with Colin Gillespie and Justin Moore leading the charge. Average margin of victory around 10 points, a solid defensive team that slowly builds their leads. Creighton is playing their best ball of the season right now, and of course Providence, UCONN, and Marquette are ranked or have been recently so the field is very open but I think Nova is the most consistent and has the experience this time of year.
Big Sky-Weber State +410
Koby McEwen, 6th year senior for Weber State is probably the Big Sky player of the year. This team has been on a tough stint the last couple games which is a bad sign. However, they rank 52nd in PPG and anyone can get it. They have 4 guys who average above double digits including McEwen’s 19.1, and Dillon Jones who averages a double double. You can’t leave anyone open, and they have a 9 man rotation that helps with keeping these guys fresh. A dangerous team in the Big Sky and my favorite to win it.
MEAC-Norfolk State -190
This team is what you would expect from a smaller conference champion. A knack for rebounding and playing phenomenal defense. 11-2 in the conference, not a lot of competition at the top for Norfolk State and they are undefeated at home. Which doesn’t really matter unless of course the conference tournament is at their home court. Which it is. Expect the top team in this conference to walk to a win.
Mountain West-Wyoming +600
I think Wyoming is the best team in the Mountain West period. The Mountain West has been very enticing and has a couple teams fighting for tournament bids, so I’ll start with that. The competition is Boise State, San Diego State, and Colorado State. The tournament is also in Las Vegas which benefits 5th place UNLV as well. Graham Ike is the Mountain West player of the year, you need one of those guys. They are gritty and get to the hoop and make their free throws. While the Mountain West is wide open, I really like the Cowboys down the stretch.
Southland- Texas A&M-CC Islanders +600
Top 65 in the country in both points per game and rebounds per game. Tournament is in Texas, regardless they are the only team in the conference with a .500+ away record. They kept up with a couple good teams early in the season with Notre Dame and Minnesota on their schedule. They are small but they make up for it with their quick scoring and their ability to force turnovers. Texas A&M-CC Islanders, a mouth full, and presumably the Southland Champs.
SWAC-Alabama A&M +2200
Alabama A&M Bulldogs. I will admit, I know nothing about this conference. There is 1 team in the entire conference with a winning record overall. Very hard to pick a team to win this conference when the #1 team is tied for 437th in assists per game and is 353rd in points per game. So I went with a team that has a dude. Jalen Johnson seems to be hard to stop just looking at the numbers and they have a couple tall guys that are surely a mismatch problem in these smaller conferences. If you are a diehard SWAC fan and have to bet, I have no idea who is winning your conference tournament but this is what I’ve got for ya.