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
7 of 15

Missouri Valley

Dates: March 7th-10th
Location: Enterprise Center in Saint Louis, MO
Top Seed: Indiana State Sycamores
Winner: Indiana State Sycamores

Indiana State is a lot better than the rest of the teams in the Missouri Valley including Drake. I would be very surprised if the Sycamores didn’t win Arch Madness and get the automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. Indiana State is loaded and has the best big man in the league and maybe one of the best in the country.

Robbie Avila doesn’t look like he can play ball but then once the ball goes up you had better guard him or it's going to be a long night. Avila shoots threes at a 38% clip, is second on the team in assists, and shoots 63% from inside the arc. He is the best player in the Missouri Valley and when you add in another dynamic scorer in Isaiah Swope. Swope shoots 40% from deep and is a three-level scorer. Swope and Avila do a ton of damage and are hard covers. If they are locked in and making shots the Sycamores are a tough out and they are going to give a power conference team some problems. 

Sleeper: Illinois State Redbirds

Illinois State is not having an overly great year, but they have decided to get hot at the right time and have climbed up the standings over the last two weeks. In that time the Redbirds also blew out Indiana State for a huge eye popping win. The Redbirds are awful on offense, but they play slow and are great on defense and force a ton of turnovers they love to muck games up. Their style of play can get overwhelming especially in a must win tournament situation. Illinois State has an uphill climb, but they have already beaten some of the teams in front of them on this run to end the season so maybe that momentum carries over to the conference tournament and they can surprise some teams.