Big Sky Conference
(All games in Ogden, Utah)
Favorite: Weber State. The Wildcats have the home-court advantage but it was an unusually balanced season in the Big Sky so Weber is no lock. There is no Damian Lillard on the roster but Davion Berry averages nearly 20 points per game.
Contenders: North Dakota, Northern Arizona, Montana. These three finished in a tie for second but only Montana was able to beat Weber State.
Longshot: Northern Colorado. The Bears also hold a victory over Weber State and were a contender until a late-season losing streak.
Prediction: Weber State
Big Ten Conference
(All games in Indianapolis)
Favorite: Michigan. The Wolverines overcame an injury to center Mitch McGary mostly because of the tremendous play of guard Nik Stauskas who become a tremendous all-around player.
Contenders: Wisconsin, Michigan State, Ohio State, Iowa. The one team I’ve left out is Nebraska because the Huskers did most of their damage at home. These four teams are all capable of winning the tournament.
Longshot: Minnesota. The Gophers have the potential with the Hollins brothers (OK, they’re not related just both from Tennessee) leading the way.
Prediction: Michigan State
Big West Conference
(All games played in Anaheim, Calif.)
Favorite: UC Irvine. The Anteaters come at opponents in waves with as many as 10 players seeing action. Defense is the key as they hold opponents to 37 percent shooting. They also have the tallest player in the nation in 7-6 Mamadou Ndiaye who averages three blocked shots per game.
Contenders: UC Santa Barbara, Long Beach State, Hawaii. Santa Barbara has been the most consistent team in this league the last few years while Long Beach is a cut below its usual standard. Hawaii can win this but the Rainbows traditionally don’t fare well on the mainland.
Longshot: Cal State Northridge. The Matadors are coached by former NBA star Reggie Theus and hold a victory over Irvine.
Prediction: UC Santa Barbara
Sun Belt Conference
(All games in New Orleans)
Favorite: Georgia State. The Panthers are a Sully’s Court favorite especially R.J. Hunter, the son of coach Ron Hunter, who’s capable of some big offensive explosions. They also have Kentucky castoff Ryan Harrow. The Panthers finished five games ahead of everyone else in the standings.
Contenders: Western Kentucky, Louisiana. The Hilltoppers finished second in the standings but were only 4-4 in their last eight. The Ragin’ Cajuns had a tough schedule playing (and losing to) Louisville, Baylor and Arkansas.
Longshot: Troy. The Trojans were only 11-19 and 6-12 but they hold the only victory over Georgia State.
Prediction: Georgia State