MARCH MADNESS: Chapter 1, Conference Tournaments, Part 1

Mark Blaudschun

March has arrived, which means that here at TMG, we will try and predict what will happen, if not how it will happen, conference tournament by conference tournament and into Selection Sunday (we gave you 68 of 68 last season) and beyond.

We will give you the tournaments in two stages, the tournaments beginning this week, and th ose beginning next week.

MARCH 3-8

1. Atlantic Sun (Higher seed, campus sites)

Regular Season Champion: Liberty, North Florida

Note: North Alabama, which is in its second year in the league, is not eligible for an automatic bid. Top 8 teams play No. 9 Kennesaw State will not participate.

Projected winner: Liberty. The Flames (28-3) have an outside chance at receiving an at-large bid if they are upset. Northern Florida and Stetson, who were the only two teams to beat Liberty during the regular season, pose the biggest challenge, but both of those losses were on the road.

2. Big South (Higher seed, campus sites)

Regular Season Champion: Radford, Winthrop

Projected winner: Radford

Note: Radford and Winthrop split regular season series, each winning on the other's court. Radford has been the hotter team down the stretch.

March 3-10

3. Horizon (Higher seed-campus sites, Semifinals, Finals in Indianapolis

Regular season champion: Wright State

Projected Winner: Wright State

March 3-11

4.Patriot League (Higher seeds-campus sites)

Regular season winner: Colgate

Projected winner: Colgate

March 4-7

5. Ohio Valley Conference (Evansville, Indiana)

Regular Season Champs: Belmont, Murray State

Note: Belmont split with Murray State during the regular season and ended it on a 10-game winning streak.

Projected winner: Belmont

6.. Mountain West Conference (Las Vegas)

Regular Season winner: San Diego State

Note: SD State needs to win the MWC to hold on to remain in hunt for No. 1 seed.

Projected winner: San Diego State

March 4-10

7. Northeast Conference (Higher seed, campus sites)

Regular season winner: Merrimack R

Note: Merrimack is a newcomer to league and not eligible for conference tournament. Robert Morris and St. Francis (Pa.) tied for second. Robert Morris split with St. Francis, but earned the No. 1 seed.

Projected winner: Robert Morris

March 5-8

8. Missouri Valley Conference (St. Louis)

Regular Season Winner: Northern Iowa

Note: UNI finished regular season with a 3-game burst, after stumbling a bit. Hottest team in league, Indiana State with 4 game winning streak, spit with UNI.

Projected winner: Northern Iowa

March 5-10

9. West Coast Conference (Las Vegas)

Regular Season winner: Gonzaga

Note: WCC should get three bids, with BYU and Saint Mary's looking strong, but either could emerge as a tournament champion, especially BYU.

Projected winner: Gonzaga

March 6-9

10. Southern Conference (Asheville, N.C)

Regular season winner: East Tennessee State

Note: E. Tennessee has a real chance of getting an at-large bid if it is upset by Furman, which could also get some at-large bid looks if it makes it to finals.

Projected winner: East Tennessee State

March 7-10

11. Summit League (Sioux Falls, SD)

Regular Season winner: North Dakota State and South Dakota State tied for title.

Note: Teams split season series

Projected Winner: South Dakota State

March 7-11

12. Sun Belt Conference (Higher seed, campus sites, New Orleans)

Regular Season champion:Arkansas--Little Rock

Note: Watch out for South Alabama, which has won 7 straight and split with Little Rock in regular seaosn.

Projected winner: Arkansas- Little Rock

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Mark Blaudschun

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