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
4 of 15

Big South

Dates: March 6th-10th
Location: Qubein Center in High Point, NC
Top Seed: High Point Panthers
Winner: High Point Panthers

High Point could not have asked for a better situation this year. They have the best team in the Big South which has been a surprise given that the league had a lot of returning talent and the tournament is played on their home floor. The Panthers have only lost one game at home all season long and they usually dominate the competition at home. There is a lot on the line for the Panthers this year as they have never made the NCAA tournament. High Point enters the Big South tournament at home with the best team they have ever had under first-year coach Alan Huss.

There is a trio of Kezza Giffa, Kimani Hamilton, and Duke Miles who can all beat you. It is hard to stop three guys. Those three players have led High Point to scoring over 84 points per game on the season. They currently lead the Big South in offense, pace of play, rebounding, and free throw percentage. On the defensive end, they rarely allow threes and do not allow the other team to rebound. They are a matchup nightmare for everyone they play and can absolutely bust some brackets in March.

Sleeper: Longwood Lancers

This is another case of the sleeper in the Big South having to have a lot of things fall right for them to have a shot at winning. Longwood has a talented roster and is extremely well-coached. The problem is that there is an extreme top-end talent gap between them and the top teams in the league. Outside of HIgh Point and UNC Asheville, there are not many teams who should challenge at the top of the league in the tournament.

The Lancers are not nearly as good on the offensive end as High Point, but they do a great job of getting the ball inside to their scorers and converting at the rim. Longwood is also one of the best defensive teams in the league and forces teams to play slow. If one of the top teams is not making shots and struggling it will play right into the hands of the Lancers and they will have a chance to win the game and make a run in the league tournament.