Tis the season for college basketball tournament season. Four conference tournaments will begin on February 28 – the Atlantic Sun, Horizon League, Patriot League, and Sun Belt. I give my predictions for these four conference tournaments.
The 2023 Atlantic Sun Tournament gets underway on February 27 with two first-round games involving the bottom four teams with the No. 9 vs. No. 10 and the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds. The ASUN regular season ends on Friday. Ten of the conference’s 14 teams make the postseason tournament.
Eight teams have clinched a spot in the conference tournament with one game remaining. Kennesaw State, Liberty, Eastern Kentucky, Stetson, North Alabama, Lipscomb, Bellarmine, and North Florida have secured a berth in the conference’s postseason play. Austin Peay and Central Arkansas have been eliminated from the postseason consideration.
Bellarmine won the ASUN Tournament championship last year, although Jacksonville earned the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament due to the Knights being ineligible. Before BU’s win last season, Liberty had won three straight conference tournament crowns.
The higher seed hosts all games throughout the postseason tournament. The ASUN’s top 2 seeds have won the conference tournament six straight years and 11 of 12. The Conference Tournament concludes on March 5.
Pick To Earn NCAA Tournament Automatic Bid: Liberty Flames
The ASUN title game will involve either Liberty or Kennesaw State. The team that earns the No. 1 seed has a significant advantage.
I like the Flames a little better as they are the league’s top defensive team and one of the top shooting teams in the conference. Liberty is one of the best passing teams in the ASUN and doesn’t turn the ball over. More importantly, two-time reigning Conference POY Darius McGhee still suits up for the Flames.
Like the Atlantic Sun, the Horizon League opens its 2023 Conference Tournament on February 28. All 11 Horizon League make the postseason tournament with three games being played on Monday, with the higher seed hosting the games (6 vs. 11, 7 vs. 10, 8 vs. 11). The Tournament’s quarterfinals are also played on the higher seed’s home court. Meanwhile, the remainder of the tourney will be played at Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis. Ho
The Horizon’s regular season concludes on Saturday. Every team, except for the league leader Youngstown State, has two games left. Cleveland State, Milwaukee, and Northern Kentucky are still alive to earn the top seed.
Wright State is the defending conference tournament reigning champ. Either WSU, NKU, and CSU has won the Horizon League Tournament every year since 2017. Milwaukee, UIC, and Oakland are the only other teams to reach the Finals during this stretch.
Pick to Earn Horizon League’s NCAA Tournament Automatic Bid: Cleveland State Vikings
The Horizon League’s automatic bid is wide open. Green Bay and IUPUI are the only teams I don’t believe have any chance of winning a game, let alone the Tournament.
I am going with Cleveland State. The Vikings have been one of the best teams in the league the entire season, along with the Penguins and Panthers. But the Vikes are solid on both ends of the floor, and star wing Tristan Enaruna seems to have finally “figured things out.”
The Patriot League also opens its conference tournament on February 28 with two games, No. 7 vs. No. 10 and No. 8 vs. No. 9. All games will be on the higher seeds campus. The Patriot League regular season ends on Saturday.
Colgate has clinched the Patriot League for the fifth straight season and will be the No. 1 seed. Bucknell will be the 10th seed, and Army is the fourth seed. Meanwhile, Lehigh and Lehigh will be the second or third seeds.
Prediction To Earn Patriot League’s Automatic NCAA Tournament Bid: Colgate Raiders
Colgate is the best and deepest team in the league. The Raiders, who have lost four Patriot League games since the beginning of the 2020-21 campaign, are the league’s highest-scoring team, as they move the ball well and take good shots. Their only real weakness is rebounding and free-throw shooting.
The Sun Belt’s Conference Tournament begins on February 28 with two opening games, featuring the No. 11 vs. No. 14 and No. 12 and No. 13. All contests are played at Pensacola Bay Center in Pensacola Bay (FL).
With one regular season left, there is still much to decide. Marshall, Southern Miss, and Louisiana are in contention for the top seed in the Conference Tournament. The only other things that are known is that Georgia State and Arkansas State will be either the 13 or 14th seed while Coastal Carolina will be seeded either 11th or 12th.
Georgia State is the reigning Sun Belt Tournament champion. The Panthers have participated in each of the last four Tournament finals, winning three chips.
Prediction To Earn Sun Belt Conference’s Automatic NCAA Tournament Bid: Marshall Thundering Herd
I expect the Sun Belt Tournament to be very competitive, just like the regular season. I am going with Marshall to win the Conference Tournament title.
The Thundering Herd have an explosive offensive, are an outstanding rebounding team on both ends, and they protect the rim extremely well. They are a very experienced team, led by senior guard Taevion Kinsley and Andrew Taylor, both of whom average 20 points a contest. 7-foot-1 freshman center Micah Handlogten provides rebounding and rim protection.
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