Busting Brackets

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
13 of 15

Summit League

Dates: March 8th-12th
Location: Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls, SD
Top Seed: South Dakota State Jackrabbits
Winner: North Dakota Fighting Hawks

I don’t know why but something is drawing me to like North Dakota to win the Summit League. The League has been a lot different than in years past as there are no teams who have dominated. Usually, it has been South Dakota State, North Dakota State, or Oral Roberts who have put up huge win totals in the league and run away from the rest of the league. The Fighting Hawks have made sure that didn’t happen. They were in first place for a while, but they did eventually give up first place to Summit Power South Dakota State.

The Hawks have a good backcourt and one of the most dynamic wings in mid-major basketball in BJ Omot. North Dakota has shown when they are hitting shots, they are very hard to beat just ask Nebraska who got quite a scare from the Hawks in a Christmas break game. This tournament is going to be fun to watch because all the teams are close or equal in talent.

Sleeper: Omaha Mavericks

The Mavericks are one of the lowest-seeded teams in the Summit tournament, yet they have the ultimate sleeper potential. Why?  They have a star player who can go nuclear and win them games and he will keep the games close. Frankie Fidler is currently averaging 23 points per game in Summit League play, and he is doing it by hitting almost 40% of his threes, shooting over 50% from inside the arc, and over 80% from the line. He gets fouled a ton and is a great rebounder and passer.

Fidler is a load and a nightmare to guard. If he can turn it on and go crazy for a week then Omaha has as good of a chance as anyone to win the Summit League. It would be the first NCAA tournament appearance for Omaha if they were to get it done.