We’re in the midst of Championship Fortnight, so let’s gear up for the continuing action by breaking down each of the Other 26’s conference tournaments as they get under way.
Dates: March 10-14
Site: Toyota Center (Houston, TX)
What to expect: Second-seeded Alabama State and third-seeded Southern are both ineligible for postseason play this year, so should one of those two win the event – a distinct possibility – the next-highest finisher will claim the automatic NCAA Tournament bid. Then again, it might not matter. Texas Southern, which beat Michigan State and Kansas State back in non-conference play, looks poised to reach the Big Dance for a second straight year after winning the league title with relative ease. The transfer-laden Tigers are experienced, talented and have the benefit of playing in their own backyard (the Toyota Center is located just three miles from the Texas Southern campus). It’s hard to see Mike Davis’ club losing prior to the championship game, where it would likely meet the Hornets or Jaguars.
Favorite: Texas Southern. You don’t beat NCAA Tournament-caliber opponents like the Spartans and Wildcats without having quality talent on your roster, and that certainly holds true for Texas Southern. Marshall transfer Chris Thomas (12.3 PPG) is a former five-star recruit, Deverell Biggs (11.8 PPG) nearly averaged double-figures in his time at Nebraska. And Madarious Gibbs (14.1 PPG) is the SWAC Player of the Year. The Tigers have a lot to work with.