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 Villanova Wildcats Jeremiah Robinson-Earl David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
NCAA Basketball Villanova Wildcats Jeremiah Robinson-Earl David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports /

Big East

Champion: Villanova Wildcats

Villanova was the team I picked to win the championship this year and I still think they can, especially given how well they usually play in the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats do what they do, they are extremely efficient on offense with tremendous ball movement. They always seem to find the wide-open shooter and take and make a ton of threes.

The offense isn’t as good as the second title team for Jay Wright but it is still a top 50 scoring offense. The defense is still smothering and makes life hard for their opponents. The Wildcats have my pick for Big East player of the year in Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. The point guard Collin Gillespie is a tremendous shooter and great leader he was the backup on the last title team and knows how to win.

Players like that always turn up the intensity come postseason play. The Big East is loaded and honestly, anyone can win this tournament, but Villanova has yet to play their best basketball this season.

Sleeper: St. John’s Red Storm

Sleep on the Red Storm at your own peril. Head coach Mike Anderson has got these guys playing very well. Saint John’s has already beaten Villanova once and has won seven of their last eight conference games. The Red Storm is not going to make the tournament as an at large but, they have some other plans for March. Julian Champagnie is just as good as his brother Justin at Pitt, and Champagnie has a great case for the conference Player of the Year. When he goes St. John’s goes.

Freshman point guard Posh Alexander is a New York native and is going to do everything he can to get his hometown school back into the tournament. The Red Storm are very dangerous in the postseason.

Big Sky

Champion: Southern Utah Thunderbirds

The Thunderbirds have made the NCAA tournament one time and that was in the 2000-2001 season, they lost a 14 seed. Since that point Southern Utah has had two winning records and this season, they are on pace to have their best season in the school’s history. The team just resumed play after a brief Covid 19 pause and even if they drop a few games it shouldn’t matter because the Big Sky is a one-bid league.

When Southern Utah is going really well, they have the sixth-best scoring offense in the country, and they average a shade under 86 points per game. Head coach Todd Simon has built this roster on high major transfers. Southern Utah is deadly inside the three-point arc and they get to the free throw line more than just about anyone in the country and the most in the Big Sky.

Southern Utah is also one of the better rebounding teams in the country as well. They beat a lot of teams into submission most of the time. There is not a single team that can keep up with them on the offensive end and by conference tournament time they should be rolling again.

Sleeper: Montana State Bobcats

Let us all applaud the job that head coach Danny Sprinkle is doing in Bozeman. The Bobcats have started the program rebuild swimmingly under their former star and current head coach. Montana State is currently in a little four-game skid, but they have the firepower to get themselves rolling again. The Bobcats started Big Sky play at 6-0 before losing their last four games.

The key for the Bobcats is to keep the game in the seventies. If it gets higher than that the team doesn’t have the firepower to keep up. UMKC transfer Xavier Bishop can carry this team for a while especially if he gets hot. Coach Sprinkle is a great coach and he is going to get the most out of his guys the Bobcats are good enough to make a run in this league.