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NCAA Basketball: Picking winners of first 15 conference tournaments of 2023-24 season

Championship Week part 1 is here and I have taken my best shot at trying to pick which teams will win their leagues and get their automatic bids into the NCAA tournament.

Jan 6, 2024; Hattiesburg, Mississippi, USA; James Madison Dukes head coach Mark Byington, right, and
Jan 6, 2024; Hattiesburg, Mississippi, USA; James Madison Dukes head coach Mark Byington, right, and / Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
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Southland Conference

Dates: March 10th-14th
Location: Legacy Center in Lake Charles, LA
Top Seed: McNeese Cowboys
Winner: McNeese Cowboys

Will Wade is in his first season as the head coach of the Cowboys could not have gone better. McNeese is dominating in the league and have been a force every time they step out on the floor. Coach Wade did a masterful job of building this roster in the transfer portal. The team has great chemistry and the transfers mixed with the older players at McNeese have all found and excelled in their roles. McNeese is not going to get challenged in the Southland, if they lose it will be a gigantic upset and is going to be a story.

McNeese has the three best players in the league and when big man Christian Shumate is going well, he can dominate a game on the glass and the defensive end of the floor. McNeese isn’t just going to dominate the Southland, they are going to be a trendy pick for an upset in the NCAA tournament. They have only lost 3 games all season long and have beaten Michigan, VCU, and Tennessee-Martin already this season. They have the talent to hang with the power schools and McNeese isn’t going to be the normal 16 seed usually designated for the Southland. They will be higher and will get a favorable matchup for them.

Sleeper: Southeastern Louisiana Lions

Much like in the Patriot League the sleeper in the Southland is arbitrary. I am listing one here for the purposes of the article but the odds of the Lions winning the tournament are about 1%. Southeastern Louisiana does have the best chance out of anyone though considering they are the only team who has beaten McNeese in the league.

The Lions are one of the top three-point shooting teams in the conference and if they get hot from outside can stay in any game. David Caldwell is a star who presents a matchup problem for everyone. The odds are not in favor of the Lions, but crazy things happen during Championship Week.