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
14 of 15

Sun Belt

Dates: March 5th-11th
Location: Pensacola Bay Center in Pensacola, FL
Top Seed: Appalachian State Mountaineers
Winner: James Madison Dukes

Take nothing away from Appalachian State they are good, and many would debate they probably win this league but let’s not take anything away from James Madison either. They finished one game out of first place in the league and they beat Michigan State in Breslin Center earlier this year. The Dukes run one of the nation's best offenses and piggyback that offense with one of the country's best defenses.

James Madison has stars all over the floor, but the best player is going to be the Sun Belt Player of the Year in Terrence Edwards. Edwards has been the anchor of the defense and the best player on offense every night. James Madison is very good and is another team that if they get into the field a power school is going to feel very uneasy playing them because they are solid in so many areas. Appalachian State has beat them twice already so that is going to be a huge story if those two teams meet in the finals. James Madison won’t get beat a third time.

Sleeper: Southern Mississippi Eagles

The Eagles are an interesting case study when they have had former Illinois and St. John’s star Andre Curbelo they have been much better. It makes sense considering Curbelo is one of the most talented players in the country when he is right. The Eagles have a 7-4 record with Curbelo  and a 7-10 record without him. The star guard is currently healthy and ready to play in the Sun Belt tournament. Southern Mississippi beat James Madison with Curbelo on the floor and when he is playing the Eagles are very dangerous and can make a run.