Busting Brackets

NCAA Basketball: Predicting winners for all 2021 conference tournaments

Ohio State (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)
Ohio State (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images) /
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NCAA Basketball San Diego State Aztecs Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
NCAA Basketball San Diego State Aztecs Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports /

Missouri Valley

Champion: Loyola Chicago Ramblers

Loyola Chicago entered our homes a few seasons ago when they made a Cinderella run to the Final Four. Head coach Porter Moser has not skipped a beat since then and this year’s Ramblers may be better overall than the team that made the Final Four. The Ramblers are likely going to get an at large if they don’t win the tournament. It is all going to depend on how and when they lose.

The Ramblers have the best defense in the country, yes even better than Virginia. They only allow a shade over 55 points per game. The defense is a team effort and the Ramblers don’t do anything special except give max effort every time down the court. Senior Cameron Krutwig does everything for Loyola he is the only player on the team averaging double figures, he leads them in rebounds and is averaging one block per game.

Loyola is really good and is prepared for a slow grinder of a game. The Ramblers love to play like that and whoever draws them in the NCAA tournament is going to have to adjust to that style or get beat.

Sleeper: Bradley Braves

Who else out of the Valley than the Braves. They have won the last two tournaments and were not picked to do so, so this year should be no different. Bradley has shown that they come to play in Arch Madness every season and with the amount of experience they have returning, this year it could be more of the same for head coach Brian Wardle and his Braves.

Elijah Childs is still on campus and doing everything for Bradley on both the offensive and defensive end. Can Bradley get hot again for another week and make it three for their last three?

Mountain West

Champion: San Diego State Aztecs

Are the Aztecs as good as they were last year?  No, not by a longshot but they still have a lot of players who returned from last year’s team who want to win this tournament and remove the sour taste in their mouth from last season’s last-second heartbreaker to Utah State. Matt Mitchell and Jordan Schakel are the two players who do the heavy lifting on offense.

Much like last season, the defense is where San Diego State separates itself from the rest of the league. They only allow about 60 points per game which are going to help them a great deal in the tournament. San Diego State is playing the best basketball out of any of the top 5 teams in the Mountain West right now and teams are always striving to play their best as the calendar flips to March. The Aztecs are a second-weekend team.

Sleeper: Nevada Wolf Pack

This league was hard to pick a sleeper because the Mountain West could realistically get four teams in the NCAA tournament. The one team that is not considered one of those tournament teams but in the next tier is the Nevada Wolf Pack. Nevada has two tremendous transfer guards in Grant Sherfield and Desmond Cambridge who carry this team on the offensive end.

The two guards make a ton of shots and if you have watched Nevada play you have probably seen them beat teams by themselves. With those two guys and their ability to carry this team, if they get hot from the floor and start gaining some confidence Nevada has enough talent to go a long way in the conference tournament maybe even win it.