Predictions For Every 2019 Conference Tournament

March Madness is almost here as Selection Sunday falls on St. Patrick’s Day. Conference tournaments are about to start as teams across the nation compete for 32 automatic bids. Before the madness of conference tournaments, here are predictions for the 32 conference tournaments happening in Division I.


America East

Where: Campus Sites hosted by higher seeds

When: March 9-17

2018 Winner: UMBC

2019 Winner: Vermont

The Catamounts have dominated the America East over the past three seasons with only four losses against conference opponents. One of those came against UMBC in the 2018 America East final as Jairus Lyles hit a three-pointer with one second remaining to send the Retrievers to their second NCAA Tournament appearance. Vermont lost that game on its home court and will be looking for revenge this time around.

The Catamounts have the conference’s best player in Anthony Lamb and he will look to lead them to their seventh NCAA Tournament appearance. Stony Brook and UMBC are both potential challengers to Vermont, but both teams will have to win in Vermont to make the NCAA Tournament. The Catamounts missed out on March Madness last season and they will be looking to avenge that misstep in 2019.


American Athletic Conference (AAC)

Where: Fedex Forum, Memphis, Tennessee

When: March 14-17

2018 Winner: Cincinnati

2019 Winner: Houston

Despite losing their last game against UCF, the Cougars are the clear favorite to win the American Athletic Conference Tournament. Their ability to defend the perimeter has made them one of the top teams in the nation this season. The Bearcats are the reigning conference tournament champions, but their over reliance on Jarron Cumberland will hurt them.

The Knights just knocked off the Cougars, but they lost on their home court to Houston earlier this season. Head coach Kelvin Sampson has the deepest bench in the conference and the team’s overall depth should help get the Cougars back to the NCAA Tournament.


Atlantic 10 Conference (A-10)

Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY

When: March 13-17

2018 Winner: Davidson

2019 Winner: VCU

The Rams are one of the hottest teams in the nation as they are currently on a 10-game winning streak. They allow only 62 points per game and held Virginia to only 57 points earlier this year. VCU made seven consecutive NCAA Tournaments from 2011-2017 and are looking to return in 2019.

Davidson provides the biggest threat for VCU as the Wildcats have the conference’s top backcourt in Kellan Grady and Jon Axel Gudmundsson. The Rams lost against Davidson in the only regular-season matchup, but they are a superior team now than they were before. VCU will get back to the NCAA Tournament behind guards Marcus Evans and De’Riante Jenkins.


Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)

Where: Spectrum Center, Charlotte, North Carolina

When: March 12-16

2018 Winner: Virginia

2019 Winner: North Carolina

The ACC is without a doubt the best conference in the country, which means picking a winner is quite difficult. The Tar Heels are playing the best basketball right now of any team in the conference and will be playing in their home state. Duke are the most talented team in the country, but Zion Williamson’s health makes it hard to predict how far Duke will go in the conference tournament.

Virginia beat North Carolina this year in Chapel Hill and have dominated the ACC over the past two seasons. The Cavaliers have stifled the Tar Heels’ up tempo offense recently as Tony Bennett’s team runs an efficient half court offense. Despite struggling against Virginia in the past, North Carolina will find a way to knock off the Cavaliers in Charlotte.


Atlantic Sun

Where: Campus sites hosted by higher seeds

When: March 4-10

2018 Winner: Lipscomb

2019 Winner: Lipscomb

Lipscomb and Liberty are the two clear options to win the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament as both teams won 14 conference games. The Flames recently knocked off the Bisons in Nashville, but Lipscomb blew them out on the road earlier this season. Guard Garrison Matthews has scored over 2,200 points in his collegiate career and is a dangerous shooter from deep.

The Bisons won the conference tournament last season against Florida Gulf Coast, scoring 108 points in the upset victory. Nearly everybody is back from last year’s team, so they have the experience of winning a conference tournament. Lipscomb made its first ever NCAA Tournament in 2018 and will make its second consecutive NCAA Tournament in 2019.


Big 12

Where: Sprint Center, Kansas City, Missouri

When: March 13-16

2018 Winner: Kansas

2019 Winner: Kansas State

The Big 12 Conference Tournament is wide open as the top five teams in the conference have a legitimate shot at winning. Kansas is not as dominant as it was in the past, leaving the door open for in-state rival Kansas State to take the title. The Wildcats have been one of the nation’s best defensive teams this season, holding opponents to 59 points per game.

Kansas State will be challenged by Texas Tech and Kansas in the tournament, but the combination of Barry Brown and Dean Wade will help push them over the top. Bruce Weber’s team made the Elite Eight last season, so the Wildcats have tournament experience. Kansas State will use that experience to help propel them to a Big 12 Conference Tournament championship.


Big East

Where: Madison Square Garden

When: March 13-16

2018 Winner: Villanova

2019 Winner: St. John’s

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The Wildcats have dominated the Big East over the past five seasons, winning either a regular season crown or the conference tournament every year. While Villanova looks to continue that streak in Madison Square Garden, local team St. John’s has the ability to cut down the nets on March 16. The Red Storm play with five guys out on the perimeter as four starters shoot better than 35 percent from behind the arc.

Marquette might have the conference’s top scorer in Markus Howard, but St. John’s swept Marquette this season. Shamorie Ponds has found his rhythm over the past couple of games, meaning teams should watch out come tournament time. St. John’s has not won the Big East Tournament since 2000 but will end that streak in 2019.


Big Sky

Where: Century Link Arena, Boise Idaho

When: March 11-16

2018 Winner: Montana

2019 Winner: Northern Colorado

While history favors the top spot in the Big Sky Conference Tournament, Northern Colorado has the firepower to knock off the reigning champion. The Bears just recently knocked off the Grizzlies in Montana and are currently on a three-game winning streak. Jordan Davis is the conference’s leading scorer at 23.7 points per game and he is capable of taking over any game.

Northern Colorado has only been to the NCAA Tournament once, but it could return in 2019. Montana will be the greatest challenge for the Bears, but Northern Colorado has the offensive firepower to win the Big Sky Conference Tournament for the first time since 2011.


Big South

Where: Campus Sites hosted by higher seeds

When: March 5-10

2018 Winner: Radford

2019 Winner: Campbell

The Big South is always a tough conference to predict as the top seed rarely wins the conference tournament. 2019 could be a different story as Campbell is one of the hottest teams in the conference. The Fighting Camels are currently on a four-game winning streak and have the nation’s top scorer in Chris Clemons.

The 5’9″ senior guard is averaging 30.1 points per game and is currently sixth on the NCAA scoring list with 3,136 points. Clemons has failed to score 20 points in only two games this season and his ability to score points in bunches is enough to get Campbell past reigning Big South Conference Tournament Champion Radford. The Fighting Camels have not made the NCAA Tournament since 1992 and will be looking to end that drought this season.


Big Ten

Where: United Center, Chicago

When: March 13-17

2018 Winner: Michigan

2019 Winner: Michigan State

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While the Spartans are stumbling down the stretch due to a rash of injuries, they still have the ability to win three games in Chicago. Tom Izzo’s team has gone 14-4 in conference play, knocking off rival Michigan on its home floor. Point guard Cassius Winston is one of the best floor generals in the country, but he needs help from his supporting cast.

Xavier Tillman has filled in admirably for Nick Ward, but he will need to step up his game to go against the front lines of Michigan, Purdue, and Maryland. The Wolverines have been the conference’s best team this season, but they have struggled on the road in conference play. Michigan State has enough big game experience in its player and coach Izzo to get the Spartans another Big Ten Conference Tournament win.


Big West

Where: Honda Center, Anaheim, CA

When: March 14-16

2018 Winner: Cal State Fullerton

2019 Winner: UC Irvine

The Anteaters are one of the most underrated teams in the nation as they are currently on an 11-game winning streak. UC Irvine has been smothering opponents recently, holding its last three opponents to under 50 points. Max Hazzard is the team’s leading scorer at 11.9 points per game, but nine different players average more than five points per game.

The team’s overall depth makes them very hard to stop as opponents do not know who they should take away. Cal State Fullerton vs UC Irvine’s biggest threat as the Titans have the conference’s top backcourt in Khalil Ahmad and Kyle Allman Jr. The Anteaters have not made the NCAA Tournament since 2015 and are looking to make a second appearance in 2019.


Colonial Athletic Association (CAA)

Where: North Charleston Coliseum, North Charleston, SC

When: March 9-12

2018 Winner: Charleston

2019 Winner: Hofstra

2019 has been a magical season for Hofstra as the Pride won the CAA outright for the first time ever. Jay  Wright was the team’s head coach the last time Hofstra won an outright conference title. Justin Wright-Foreman paces the team at 26.8 points per game and is capable of scoring over 30 points on any given night.

Northeastern and Charleston are Hofstra’s biggest threat as both teams have size and experience to take down the pride. Charleston won the conference tournament last year and will be looking to return to the NCAA Tournament this season. Hofstra has not made the NCAA Tournament since 2001, but the Pride has the pieces to end the drought in 2019.


Conference USA (C-USA)

Where: Ford Center at The Star, Frisco, Texas

When: March 13-16

2018 Winner: Marshall

2019 Winner: Old Dominion

Old Dominion looks poised to win the conference as the Monarchs are currently on a seven-game winning streak. Their last loss was against UTSA on January 26 when the Monarchs blew a 17-point lead with less than four minutes to go. If Old Dominion had won that game, the Monarchs would be on a 12-game winning streak.

Western Kentucky, UTSA and Marshall are the team’s biggest threats as they have all beaten Old Dominion this season. The Monarchs have not the NCAA Tournament since 2011 and are looking to win their first-ever Conference USA Tournament title.


Horizon League

Where: Campus sites/Little Caesar’s Arena, Detroit

When: March 5-12

2018 Winner: Wright State

2019 Winner: Northern Kentucky

The Horizon League automatic bid is essentially between Wright State and Northern Kentucky. Both teams won 13 conference games this season and are the last two teams to win the Horizon League tournament. The Norse have been a slightly better team this season and should win the conference tournament.

Drew McDonald is a force on the block, averaging 19.3 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. Loudon Love is a capable post defender, but the Norse have too many weapons on the outside to be contained. Northern Kentucky made its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2017 and is looking to make its second appearance in only seven seasons as a Division I program.


Ivy League

Where: Lee Amphitheater, New Haven, Connecticut

When: March 16-17

2018 Winner: Penn

2019 Winner: Harvard

Harvard and Yale are currently tied at the top of the Ivy League standings with a record of 9-3. While the Bulldogs have the conference’s best player in Miye Oni, but Chris Lewis and Bryce Aiken from Harvard are not too far behind. Harvard is the deepest team in the league by far as the Crimson have the best combination of size, speed, and athleticism.

Penn is a team to watch as the Quakers knocked off Villanova earlier in the season. They are in trouble of not making the Ivy League tournament as the Quakers are currently in fifth place in the conference. Harvard has not made the NCAA Tournament since 2015 and is looking to return to the NCAA Tournament this season.


Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC)

Where: Times Union Center, Albany, NY

When: March 7-11

2018 Winner: Iona

2019 Winner: Quinnipiac

Iona has won the last three MAAC Tournaments, but it will be hard for them to replicate that feat. Quinnipiac had an opportunity to tie Iona for the regular season crown but lost to Manhattan in the season finale. That late-season loss will provide Cameron Young all the fuel that he needs to send the Bobcats to the NCAA Tournament.

The senior guard is capable of scoring points in bunches as Young has a Division I season-high of 55 points in a game this season. Rider and Siena are other teams that could trip up the Bobcats, but Young’s ability to score the ball might be too much for them. Quinnipiac has never made the NCAA Tournament and is looking to make its first-ever appearance in 2019.


Mid-American Conference (MAC)

Where: Campus sites and Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio

When: March 11-16

2018 Winner: Buffalo

2019 Winner: Buffalo

The Bulls have been one of the best mid-major teams in the country this season as they are currently ranked 19th in the country. Buffalo has struggled at times on the road this season, but head coach Nate Oats will have his team up and running in the conference tournament. Senior guard CJ Massinburg is the star of the show, but the Bulls have five different players who are capable of scoring 15 points on any given night.

Four other teams in the MAC have won at least 20 games this season, but none of them have the firepower to stay with Buffalo’s offense. Last year, the Bulls dominated Pac-12 champion Arizona in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Most of the main players return from that team, making Buffalo one of the most dangerous teams in the tournament field.


Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC)

Where: Norfolk Scope Arena, Norfolk, Virginia

When: March 11-16

2018 Winner: North Carolina Central

2019 Winner: Norfolk State

Norfolk State has controlled the MEAC this season as the Spartans clinched the regular season title with a 14-1 record. Guard Nic Thomas leads the team in scoring with 14.4 points per game, but Jordan Butler is the team’s most important player as he leads the conference in blocks. Howard and Bethune Cookman challenged Norfolk State because of their guard play.

Howard’s RJ Cole and Charles Williams are the conference’s best backcourt and scorers, while Bethune Cookman’s combination of Cletrell Pope and Malik Maitland caused problems. Norfolk State’s last appearance in the NCAA Tournament was memorable as the 15-seed Spartans upset 2-seed Missouri. The Spartans are hoping for that same type of magic in the MEAC tournament.


Missouri Valley Conference (MVC)

Where: Enterprise Center, St. Louis, Missouri

When: March 7-10

2018 Winner: Loyola Chicago

2019 Winner: Loyola Chicago

The Ramblers stole the hearts of everyone during last year’s NCAA Tournament as they made it all the way to the Final Four as an 11-seed. Loyola returns most of its key players from last season and head coach Porter Moser has his team geared for another March run. Reigning MVC Player of the Year Clayton Custer runs the show for the Ramblers, while Cameron Krutwig and Marques are the best inside-out duo in the conference.

Drake tied with Loyola for the best record in the conference this season at 12-6. Nick McGlynn is one of the MVC’s best interior scorers and will challenge Krutwig inside. The Ramblers have a little too much offense for the Bulldogs and should return to the NCAA Tournament in 2019.


Mountain West Conference (MWC)

Where: Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas

When: March 13-16

2018 Winner: San Diego State

2019 Winner: Nevada

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Despite losing to Utah State in its last game, Nevada is the clear favorites to win the conference tournament. The Wolf Pack were very angry after their devastating loss to the Aggies and would look forward to getting some revenge in the conference tournament. Eric Musselman’s team is one of the most experienced in the country as all five starters are redshirt seniors.

Utah State was able to get almost any shot it wanted against Nevada as the Aggies scored 81 points in the upset victory. Sam Merrill scored 29 points in that game, but the Martin twins and Jordan Caroline will be too much for the Aggies in the Mountain West Tournament. The Wolf Pack made it to the Sweet 16 last year and are looking for another run like that this season.


Northeast Conference (NEC)

Where: Campus sites hosted by higher seed

When: March 6-12

2018 Winner: LIU Brooklyn

2019 Winner: Fairleigh Dickinson

The Knights are the hottest team in the NEC right now as they are currently on a five-game winning streak. Fairleigh Dickinson is tied with St. Francis (PA) for the best conference record at 12-6 and both teams are likely going to meet in the final. The Knights’ defense is slightly better than the Red Flash, giving the Knights the advantage.

Darnell Edge leads Fairleigh Dickinson in scoring at 16.4 points per game, while Jahlil Jenkins runs the show with four assists per game. The Knights have not made the NCAA Tournament since 2016 and are looking to make their sixth tournament appearance in school history in 2019.


Ohio Valley Conference (OVC)

Where: Ford Center, Evansville, Indiana

When: March 6-9

2018 Winner: Murray State

2019 Winner: Murray State

The OVC Tournament is going to be one of the most entertaining tournaments in the nation. The top three teams in the conference won at least 15 conference games, while fourth place Austin Peay went 13-5. The overall talent level at the top of the conference makes it a fun tournament to watch, especially with OVC Player of the Year Ja Morant.

The electric sophomore has dazzled the nation with his absurd athleticism and fancy passes as he is a potential top three pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Belmont and Jacksonville State are definitely teams to watch as they both knocked off the Racers this season. It’s always safe to go with the team with the best player in a tightly contested tournament, which Murray State has in Morant.


Pac-12

Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas

When: March 13-16

2018 Winner: Arizona

2019 Winner: Washington

The Pac-12 has struggled mightily this season with only two teams winning at least 20 games. Despite struggling over the past couple of games, Washington is the clear favorite to win the Pac-12 tournament. Head coach Mike Hopkins is a former Syracuse assistant and he brought the patented 2-3 zone up to the Pacific Northwest.

Matisse Thybulle is one of the best defenders in the nation as he is the only player averaging over three steals and two blocks per game. Arizona State has the guards to disrupt the Washington zone but has struggled with consistency from behind the arc. Bubble teams across the nation will tune into the Pac-12 Tournament as a winner other than Washington and Arizona State would be stealing an NCAA Tournament bid.


Patriot League

Where: Campus sites hosted by higher seed

When: March 5-13

2018 Winner: Bucknell

2019 Winner: Colgate

In the past decade, Bucknell has dominated the Patriot League with eight of the last nine regular-season titles. The Bison shared the regular season title with Colgate, despite losing the conference’s last two players of the year in Nana Foulland and Zach Thomas. The Crusaders won the tiebreaker over the Bison, giving them home-court advantage in the tournament.

Colgate has a very balanced offense as seven different players average around seven points per game. The Crusaders will be challenged by Bucknell and Lehigh, but they have just enough offense to get them through the tournament. Colgate has not been to the NCAA Tournament since 1996 and will he hoping that drought ends in 2019.


Southeastern Conference (SEC)

Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tennessee

When: March 13-17

2018 Winner: Kentucky

2019 Winner: Tennessee

The SEC Tournament has recently been Kentucky’s exhibition before the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats have won the last four SEC Tournaments are looking to make it five in 2016. Tennessee pounded Kentucky 71-52 on March 2 and the Volunteers are the favorite to win the SEC Tournament.

The frontcourt duo of Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams is one of the nation’s best. The Volunteers also have quality guards and depth, making them one of the most complete teams in the country. LSU is a very dangerous team, but Tennessee is looking to win its first conference tournament title in 40 years.


Southern Conference

Where: US Cellular Center, Asheville, North Carolina

When: March 8-11

2018 Winner: UNC Greensboro

2019 Winner: Wofford

The Southern Conference is in the middle of one of its best ever seasons. Four teams have won at least 23 games, making it possible for the conference to receive its first-ever at-large bid. Even with the strength of the conference, Wofford is the clear favorite after going 18-0 in conference play.

The 22nd ranked Terriers have won 17 consecutive games and are ranked for the second consecutive week. Fletcher Magee is one of the best shooters in the nation and could create some serious damage in the NCAA Tournament. Wofford has not made the NCAA Tournament since 2015, meaning the senior class has never played in an NCAA Tournament game.


Southland Conference

Where: Leonard E. Merrell Center, Katy, Texas

When: March 13-16

2018 Winner: Stephen F. Austin

2019 Winner: Sam Houston State

The Southland Conference Tournament is interesting as many teams have a shot at winning. Lamar is the hottest team in the conference as the Cardinals are on a seven-game winning streak. Abilene Christian has won the games at 24, while Sam Houston State has the best conference record at 15-1.

The Bearkats have a slight edge on the field due to their depth and balance. Eight different players are averaging over five points a game, making it hard for teams to prepare for them. Sam Houston State has not made the tournament since 2010.


Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC)

Where: Campus sites/ Bill Harris Arena, Birmingham, Alabama

When: March 12-16

2018 Winner: Texas Southern

2019 WinnerPrairie View A&M

History favors Texas Southern as the Tigers have won four of the past five SWAC Tournaments. They have won 10 straight games and are second in the conference at 13-3. Rival Prairie View A&M is currently leading the conference at 15-1 and have already clinched a share of the SWAC regular-season title.

The Panthers have the second best offense in the conference at 73.2 points per game. Texas Southern has the top offense in the SWAC, but the Tigers have one of the nation’s worst defenses. Prairie View A&M has been to multiple finals over the past couple of seasons but has not won the SWAC Tournament since 1998.


Summit League

Where: Denny Sanford Premier Center, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

When: March 9-12

2018 Winner: South Dakota State

2019 Winner: South Dakota State

The Jackrabbits have won the last three Summit League tournaments. They have the inside track to make it four with reigning Summit League Player of the Year Mike Daum. The senior forward is currently ninth on the NCAA career scoring list with 3,026 points and also grabbed over 1,200 rebounds in his career.

The Jackrabbits are more than just Daum as Tevin Jenkins and Skyler Flatten both average better than 15 points per game. South Dakota State has struggled defensively this season, giving teams like Omaha and Purdue Fort Wayne an opportunity for the upset. Daum is the best player in the history of the conference and will be looking to close his career out in style.


Sun Belt

Where: Lakefront Arena, New Orleans

When: March 12-17

2018 Winner: Georgia State

2019 Winner: Texas State

The Sun Belt Conference tournament is always difficult to project as the top seed usually fails to even make the final. Every team at the top of the conference standings has a guard capable of taking over a game. Georgia State won the conference tournament last year, but will not repeat because of its poor defense.

Texas State is only allowing 63 points per game and has shown the capability to score with guard Nijal Pearson. Georgia Southern has one of the nation’s most underrated players in Tookie Brown, but the Eagles do not have enough to contend with the Bobcats. Texas State has not played in the NCAA Tournament since 1997 when the Bobcats were part of the Southland Conference.


West Coast Conference (WCC)

Where: Orleans Arena, Las Vegas

When: March 7-12

2018 Winner: Gonzaga

2019 Winner: Gonzaga

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Gonzaga is currently the top-ranked team in the country and is on a 20-game winning streak. The Bulldogs have won each of those games by double digits and are outscoring their opponents by almost 25 points a game. Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke have dominated the paint for head coach Mark Few, while Zach Norvell Jr. and Josh Perkins are a dynamic backcourt.

Gonzaga has played most of the season without French big man Killian Tillie, who went 13-14 from behind the arc in last year’s conference tournament. St. Mary’s and BYU will give the Bulldogs a game, but they do not have enough firepower to get the job done. Gonzaga has been dominant all year long and is looking to continue that dominance in the conference tournament.


Western Athletic Conference (WAC)

Where: Orleans Arena, Las Vegas

When: March 13-16

2018 Winner: New Mexico State

2019 Winner: New Mexico State

The Aggies have been the top team in the WAC over the past seven seasons, claiming the conference’s automatic bid in six of the last seven years. New Mexico State has won 15 straight games and has already claimed the WAC regular-season title. The Aggies average 77.6 points per game, but Terrell Brown leads the team in scoring at only 11.3 points per game.

Nine different players average at least five points per game, giving New Mexico State unmatched balance and depth in the conference. Grand Canyon and Utah Valley both almost beat New Mexico State this season, but fell just short in the end. The Aggies have not won an NCAA Tournament game since 1993 and are looking to end that drought in 2019.