Picking The Winner Of Every Conference In College Basketball PLUS Sleepers And More

Giphy Images.

We are literally two weeks from the start of college hoops. I'm undertaking an arduous but exciting blog here. I will go through every conference and give you my personal predicted winner and a sleeper to keep your eye on. I also will use the conference winner future bets on the ones offered at Barstool Sportsbook. 32 conferences… one with a possibility of no season but let's go. 

AMERICA EAST: As usual it's all about Vermont. John Becker is one of the most underrated coaches in the country. While they lose one of the best players in the history of the program in Anthony Lamb, they return plenty of talent. Stef Smith is a top 5 player in the league and if he can avoid injury, Ben Shunga will be a top wing. Shungu won Best Defensive Player in the league last year. They will also at some point get Justin Mazzulla a GW transfer. Mazzulla is a big guard who can defend his ass off and will be huge against teams with good guards like Albany and Umass Lowell. It's going to be really tough to score on the Catamounts this year. 

Sleeper: Albany is interesting to me. They return Cam Healy and Ahmad Clark two dynamic guards who are among the best in the league. I like the addition of Loyola MD transfer Chuck Champion, who is a slashing bucket getter. I also like Umass-Lowell, Obadiah Noel is the best player in the conference, they just play no defense and it's hard to pick them.


AAC: The American, one of my favorite conferences in the country. I love Houston to run away with the conference. What Kelvin Sampson has built at Houston is incredible. They are a perennial mid major every season. Not only do I like the Cougars I think they are a top 15 team heading into the season. I love them defensively. They are maniacal to play against with their obsession to rotate and being in the right spot. Dejon Jarreau means the point guard smart and Quentin Grimes besides him make them the defacto best duo in the conference. With Caleb Mills off the bench, wow. On the block, Brison Gresham won't woo anyone offensively but he does all the dirty work. Sampson is high on freshman J'wan Roberts to be more of an offensive threat then the other bigs. A lot to love about the Cougars. 

Sleeper: SMU… this team is going to hum offensively. They were number one in the conference last year and may be better this season. Kendric Davis is the best guard in the country you don't know about. Ethan Chargois has a pretty touch around the rim and Tyson Jolly is a knockdown sniper from three. My reservations are on Jankovich, who as a coach I'm not high on. But they will be fun to bet on from game to game. To get involved future wise to win the conference I need 5/1 or better.


ATLANTIC SUN: Lipscomb… yep I'm fading Liberty. For the Bison, Ahsan Abdullah is a man amongst boys in the conference. No one can guard him on the block and he will put up huge numbers. He will have a great rapport with guard KJ Johnson. Watching them in the pick and roll will be fun. Also they landed Tommy Murr. He is regarded as a legend in Alabama high school basketball. He scored 5000 points in his career. Last season he scored 61 in a game he was literally triple teamed most of the game and scored 50 or more 12 times. He gives me Garrison Matthews vibes. Yeah, Lipscomb is going to be very good offensively. 

Sleeper: Stetson: They love to put there head down in the lane and get to the line. Defensively the zone from Donnie jones will bother people. North Florida lost a lot so it was hard to pick them, though I wanted to because I love Matt Driscoll's shoot tons of 3's system. 


ATLANTIC TEN: This is a great league and I will tell you its my favorite in the country year after year. Now I get to talk about one of my favorite teams in the country. Richmond was a treasure to me last year and they are a treasure to me this year. Jacob Gilyard and Blake Francis are yin and yang at guard. Grant Golden is one of more underappreciated bigs in the country. He can do it all. Nathan Cayo is a great wing and I'm excited about the addition of Connor Crabtree, a wing with three ball prowess. They return the top defense in the league and things are humming and will be for the Spiders this year. I think they have George Mason Final Four good vibes. I bet them at 80/1 to win it all, it dropped considerably to 35/1. That's value/ 

Sleeper: St Bonnies at 10/1 at Barstool Sportsbook to win the conference will garner a bet from me. Somehow Mark Schmidt's team always seems to be right there at the end. Kyle Lofton gets no respect and is a top 5 player in the league. Big Osun Osunniyi is a key to them and their success. I lamented last year in game preview podcasts if he misses any time avoid the Bonnies. But he's healthy so I'm all in on them. He's an elite rebounder and clogs up the middle defensively virtually creating a wall that tells opposing guards to basically stay out of the lane.  Him and Lofton are wildly good as a pair in the pick and roll as well. They also have a great supporting cast that can all score and solidly defend. Watch out for the boys from Olean. 


ACC: I'm coming right out and saying it. I'm taking Virginia. Also have them in the futures market to win the entire thing. This is the softest ACC in a long time in my opinion. The great thing about the Cavs is they are always going to be top 3 in the country defensively. Keep in mind they have been the best team in the country two of the last 3 season according to Ken Pom. The defense is a carefully orchestrated ballet. It's one of the most beautiful things basketball has to offer. Kihei Clark is back at PG, another year older and with Sam Hauser in the mix now, this is among the best teams Bennett has had. Hauser fits the mover blocker offense they run so perfectly. He can snipe from three as well. Jay Huff will have a coming out party down low. Keep an eye on new freshman Jabri Abdur Rahim, yes Shareef's son. If he can fall in love with defense like the rest of the Cavs he will be a big part of them on offense. Sky's the limit for the Cavs, they are a top 5 team heading into the season. 

Sleeper: Louisville… I'm high on Mack and the Cardinals, as usual. I can't wait to watch Radford transfer Carlik Jones run the show and Mack also grabbed SF transfer Charles Minlend, a solid wing player that can give you 12-15 nightly. Malik Williams is a great rebounder and will anchor them down low. They go as Jones goes. He was the best player in the Big South in his time at Radford, if that translates as he steps in to a different league basketball wise, watch out. 


BIG 12: Let everyone else take other teams, I'm taking Chris Beard and Texas Tech. Getting Mac McClung a waiver is gigantic and to me is one of the best transfer gets in the country. His ability to score and take a game over was evident at Georgetown. When you pair him along side Nimari Burnett, a five star guard I get very excited. They have also plenty of experience coming back with the likes of Terrence Shannon, Kyler Edwards and Kevin Mccullar. I love the mix of new guys and gristly veterans. Beard is all about principles and discipline and that will help here. They got a face lift as well on the block with the additions of transfers Marcos Santos-Silva and Joel Ntawabe. Santos Silva was really good at VCU and should be good in Beards defense down low. Ntawabe is a UNLV transfer with the ability to do it all around the rim and will woo with his multitude of skills offensively. Add in the fact that this team is top 10 every year nationally on the defensive end, that's good enough for me. This is a well oiled machine with a top 3 coach in the country. It will be a fun battle with Kansas, Baylor and WVU this year. 30/1 is a strong price for them to win it all. 

Sleeper: Texas… Greg Brown is a freak and he is the best recruit they've had since Kevin Durant. There isn't a player I'm more excited about watching than him. Pairing him with Andrew Jones, Matt Coleman and Courtney Ramey is fascinating. Sadly Shaka Smart is the coach and may hold them back. I hope I'm wrong but that starting 5 is really good. December 6th in Austin against Nova will be a fun one. 

Keep an eye out for Oklahoma State and Cade Cunnigham though as well. Number one recruit. Texas/Oklahoma State will be must watch on December 20th and Feb 6th. 


BIG EAST: Villanova is the class of the conference and while I'm a Temple guy and will always tell you Nova isn't a city school because they aren't based in the city I can't deny greatness. Jay Wright is elite and this team is incredible coming back. In my opinion they are the best team in the country coming into the season. Colin Gillespie and Justin Moore are among the best guard duos in the country. I'm also pumped about Jeremiah Robinson-Earl coming back. He is a household name this year, he can score from anywhere on the court and will be one of the top bigs in the country. One name you won't really hear that heralded is new transfer Caleb Daniels. A few years ago he was terrific in the AAC at Tulane and will be instant offense for Wright. This team has depth, continuity and cohesion. They are the best team in the country. This conference gets better and better but Nova reigns supreme. 

Sleeper: Seton Hall: Yes I know they lose Myles Powell. But late last year I lamented on the second half of the season he had. He wasn't good. I think coming back this year new transfers Bryce Aiken and Takai Molson inject a lot of good into this team. Both are high level scorers. Mamu is also back on the block. I expect him to flourish in this role as usual. Myles Cale and Jared Rhoden are tough bulldog defenders and Obiagu in the middle I hope can handle being and having the role Romaro Gill played last year. Big and depth player Tyrese Samuel well help as well. Keep on eye 


BIG SKY: It's all about Eastern Washington here for me. Yes they do lose star Mason Peatling but retain the rest of nucleus that was the BSKY's best last year. Ellis Magnuson and Jacob Davison lead the attack. EWU always has great guard play and they should open up plenty for this attack. Kim Aiken is a matchup nightmare in this conference. He is an elite rebounder as well and will gobble up anything around him. There aren't many teams that can handle the 6'8 Aiken. Keep an eye also on sharpshooter wing Jack Perry. He was top 25 last year nationally from 3. This team should cut down the nets in March in one of the prettiest areas of America. 

Sleeper: Montana… not really a sleeper but the biggest competition to the Eagles. I expect a leap from Derrick Carter-Hollinger the best freshman in the league last year. They also welcome Sacred Heart transfer Cameron Parker to run point which they needed. Travis DeCuire is a great coach and after a down year, I expect them to come back and challenge as always. 


BIG SOUTH: Auto insert Winthrop most years… I will here as well. Pat Kelsey is tremendous and never gets the type of respect he deserves. They should've had a tournament game last year and will get another one this year. Chandler Vaudrin is one the leagues best and partnered alongside DJ Burns, there's very little to not like about the Eagles. Burns is very difficult to deal with in the post. He's big and bruising. Sophomore guard Chase Claxton should follow up a very good freshman campaign as well.  He was aggressive finishing last year with 115 free throw attempts, second most by a freshman in program history. It's Winthrop's conference to lose. 

Sleeper: Charleston Southern: Phlandrous Fleming is the best player in the league. He scores at will dropping 20 plus regularly. They need to get better defensively and someone else other than Fleming will have to step up. But he's good enough to keep them in a lot of games. Travis Anderson might be able to be that guy from long range and help Fleming. He can snipe from 3. 


BIG TEN: Obviously as we know this is among the deepest conferences in the country and I can't make everyone happy. But I'm going Wisconsin here. The frontcourt of Reuvers, Potter and Ford is among the best you'll find. And the guard play is typical Wisconsin. Tough… with Brad Davidson and D'Mitrik Trice. Both guards can create for themselves, shoot and are good in pick and roll. This starting five is as good as you'll find. Defensively they are strong as usual. My one knock and thought as the season draws closer is who steps up depth wise? Tyler Wahl and and freshman Ben Carlson figure in and they are high on Johnny Davis. As many Badger fans will tell you if they had Brevin Pritzl back and had an entire offseason to mesh, they are a final 4 type of team. They still might be. They will have to battle but to me I just like them more than teams like Michigan State and Illinois. 3.5/1 is a fair price. I played it. 

Sleeper: Purdue…Luckily for the Boilers, Trevion Williams is back. He's a center piece to build around and is very difficult to guard in one on one situations.  I loved last year at times also what I saw from Sasha Stefanovic and Aaron Wheeler as well. They alleviate themselves from Nojel Eastern who was a waste of space on offense and that will allow them to become a bit more free flowing offensively. One thing that will be interesting especially in this conference is how no crowd plays into it. Places like Purdue are near impossible to go win at. I'm high on Eric Hunter, he's well sized for a guard and has a nice shooting stroke. He could benefit a lot from double teams on Williams.. 


BIG WEST: UC Santa Barbara: I'll be honest it's hard to pick against UC Irvine. Since 2014, they have been either 1st or 2nd in this conference. But I think this year they are the runners up. I'm going Gauchos here. They have the leagues best player in Amadou Sow and JaQuori McLaughlin. They are deep at most positions and I love the way this offense generally moves. It's creating high percentage shots around the rim and getting the ball to Sow. Destin Barnes, a transfer from Jacksonville will help the 3 point prowess. Last year with the Dolphins he had 6 games with 3 or more treyballs.and had double figures in all but 6 conference games. 

Sleeper: Cal Bakersfield: The Roadrunners make the move from the WAC to Big West. Rod Barnes is a good coach and has some real talent returning. Demonte Buckingham should be more adept this season in a different conference. He shined back when he was at Richmond. Czar Perry is a good floor general and creates for players like Buckingham. One thing to keep in mind they are an old team. 7 of the 9 players that averaged a point or more last year are seniors this year. Big in a year of uncertainty. Continuity is key!


COLONIAL: Hofstra: 2019/2020 was a sad season for them. Finally win a CAA title and the tourney gets cancelled! Luckily for the Pride I expect them to be right back there this year. Jalen Ray and Tareq Coburn are great off the ball guards and look for Shawndarius Cowart to run point. Cowart is a JUCO stud out of Penscaola State. He will tasked at filling the shoes of the great Desure Buie. One thing on tape that I liked about Cowart is not only can he create but he's a terrific rebounder. Love a guard that can rebound. Brooklyn born Isaac Kante is back to anchor the middle and should have a big year They love pick and roll at Hofstra and this team seems poised to continue that. One thing I also love about Hofstra, over the last two seasons they were 8th and 1st in the country in FT percentage. It's one of the reasons over the last 2 seasons they are covering all games at a near 70 percent clip. 

Sleeper: Delaware: Gonna give the Blue Hens some love. I actually like this returning team. I think there's offense everywhere. Kevin Anderson and Ryan Allen will play at guard and they also will get Reggie Gardner, a NC Central transfer. The evolution could continue if Villanova transfer big Dylan Painter gets going. He had a wonky season last year and he could vault them to win some games they inevitably lost last year. The starting five is solid, we will see if depth works its way out of the Hens. 


CONFERENCE USA: Western Kentucky: Ahh yes, finally to one of my favorite teams in the country coming into the season. Obviously not a favorite to win it all, but back a run? Who knows!  I am fascinated by this Hilltoppers team coming back and it could be a special season. Anchored by one of the best bigs in the country Charles Bassey, a defacto lottery pick next year who can't be guarded in the paint. He is a true matchup nightmare and will be a menace that keeps coaches up at night trying to prepare for.  If you've seen Bassey play you marvel in his ability to completely dominate teams in this league. He's a truly multi faceted dominator. When looking at the rest of this team, the guard play should be fantastic as well. They welcome back Taevion Hollingsworth who can do it all and is a top guard in the league. They also finally get Lipscomb transfer Kenny Cooper eligible. Cooper was instrumental two years ago in a run the Bison made to the NCAA tourney. He had to sit out last year and I love this duo at guard. They also have length with Carson Williams, Josh Anderson and new Davidson transfer Luke Frampton. Keep an eye also on new freshman Dayvion McKnight. He was Mr. Basketball last year in Kentucky starring at Collins High School in Shelbyville. 

Sleeper: UTSA: Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace are back and that's bad news for the league. Jackson was 2nd in the country in scoring per game and with his backcourt mate, they were 2nd highest backcourt tandem in the country. These two just isolate the fuck out of teams and score  45 ish combined a game. They are must watch basketball. Jackson scored 30 or more in 12 games last year. Jacob Germany is a decent big that could be the difference between winning games they would've lost last year. He came on late and was a force for them down low. With Jackson and Wallace back they are always a sleeper. 


HORIZON: Youngstown State: This league is always tough to predict. Keep in mind since 2012, 6 different schools have won the conference title. Northern Kentucky has been the class of it winning 3 of the last 4 years. This year I'm going with the Penguins. I won some real scratch on this team last year and they bring back plenty of talent. Leading scorer and star Darius Quisenberry is very important to their success. Naz Bohannon and Garrett Covington pace them at the 3 and 4. One thing they did incredibly well last year is pound the glass off misses. They were top 10 nationally in offensive rebound percentage. It's one of the reasons they were 2nd in the league in offensive efficiency. They will score and expect marked improvement defensively. Look for new freshman from Carmel Christian in Charlotte, Myles Hunter to help on that end, they think highly of him and he's a big guard who can defend bigger players. Wright State will be tough but they held their own last year and I think they get the better of them in 2020/2021. 

Sleeper: Illinois Chicago: How do I not take the Flames? Luke Yaklich takes over and there's some excitement after his stints as an assistant at Texas and Michigan. Yaklich is my kind of coach, he loves defense and the Flames figure to be silly on that end. His defenses look to take away the three point shot and force you into bad mid range jumpers. They have plenty of willing athletes that should enjoy the scheme. Offensively they welcome in Maurice Commander, UT Chat transfer who will play PG and Ohio SG transfer Treyvion Kirk who should be the likely offensive star. He was solid in the MAC and that should translate here. Many wondered when Yaklich would get his opportunity. He has it and he's home as he's from nearby Lasalle Illinois. Should be a fun winter on the Chicago West Side.  


IVY- SEASON UP IN AIR. There are reports they will meet this week to discuss the future of the season. Will put out stand alone blog when we know more. 


MAAC: Siena: Our friend Clem will be happy with this one. The Saints welcome back the best player in the conference in Jalen Pickett. He does a little of everything. He's a gifted scorer, great passer and a solid defender. They go, how he goes. Siena loves the pick and roll and will hum offensively under the tutelage of Pickett. Add in big Manny Camper and Kyle Young and this is your favorite. Young was terrific last season in limited minutes and should thrive in a bigger role. I won't be betting against Pickett.

Sleeper: Saint Peters: Another BMOC favorite of last year. The Peacocks were money in the underdog role covering 11 of 12 last season. They made me cash and I love what Shaheen Holloway has cooking here. This team is fascinating. No one on last years team played over 23 MPG. They literally played tons of guys and got a little out of everyone. They honestly as well weren't very efficient but they stayed in games through a wildly high free throw rate and percentage and good defense. The pressure they ran caused turnovers and were really good when setting up in the halfcourt. Guys like KC Ndefo and both Drame brothers are back so that will likely continue. Keep an eye on the newcomers as well. Everyone gets run on this team. They are very good defensively and just always have someone fresh on the court. 


MAC: Bowling Green: Justin Turner returning is obviously huge news for the Falcons. You'd be hard pressed to find a better play in the Mid American. He's a terrific scorer and will give you 20 a night on the regular. Him and Daeqwon Plowden anchor my pick to win it.  Plowden is a big leaper who plays great defense. The supporting cast can shoot and just adds to a dangerous offense around Turner. Defensively they need to pick it up and add to the intensity that Turner and Plowden bring. I won't pick against the best player in the conference and my god look at Plowden 

Sleeper: Akron: Loren Jackson will get run with me. How can you not love a 5'8 guard who can just score and drop dimes? Jackson is electric and add a wealth of shooters around him and some solid young talent on the wings, They will be a good over team. Will score but not sure they have the bigs to handle teams at the rim. Loren Jackson is special though. I've made this pretty clear whenever I talk about college basketball, the MAC is one of my least favorite conferences in the country. 


MEAC: NC Central: One of the most underappreciated coaches in the country is Levelle Moton. He has perfectly being a coach in low major college basketball. There is a reason the Eagles are right there every year in the MEAC. Moton. He's elite and I'm blown away a bigger school hasn't snatched him up yet. This season, I love their guard play. CJ Keyser is a star and among the best players in the conference. He gets downhill and to the line and plays defense. Moton teams are always good against opposing teams 3pt numbers. They limit opponents and throw off rhythm. The supporting cast around Keyser is good with backcourt mate Jordan Perkins and Ty Graves. Justin Whatley will have to be big for them on the glass and there's plenty of talent in the front court elsewhere. A lot to like about NC Central. Would be shocked if they don't win this league. 

Sleeper: Howard: Makur Maker made the inspiring decision to attend an HBCU. I couldn't be happier. Howard is a beautiful campus and terrific institution. It's great to see this league get some love to. I've talked glowingly about MEAC Mondays and my love for this league. It's the true essence of college basketball. Maker is the most talented recruit this league has likely ever seen. This sadly though was a pretty bad team last year. Maker will get plenty of touches and will be the focal point. I also liked the addition of Nojel Eastern. He didn't fit at Purdue but will be one the leagues premier defenders and should have more luck offensively in a conference like the MEAC. The guy that benefits most is leading scorer from last year, Wayne Bristol. He can play naturally on the wing and knock down threes like he likes. Keep in mind as well this team was downright bad last year defensively, The additions of Maker and Eastern change that a lot. This team should be fun. 


MISSOURI VALLEY: Loyola Chicago: I'm going with Sister Jean and Loyoa. The return of Cameron Krutwig is gigantic for Porter Moser. He is one of the most skilled players in the country down low and adds a passing acumen that many big men don't have. He's truly impossible to guard one on one due to his rangy tools as a big. They return a wealth of shooters and an elite ball handler in Marquise Kennedy. One big thing to keep an eye on throughout the season is the health of Lucas Williamson. He is fine but missed time last season and in years before and they suffered. He's the glue guy and an elite defender. I also loved getting a kid like Braden Norris, a transfer from Oakland. He's a dead eye shooter and adds to an already good shooting team. Not a lot to not like about the Ramblers. This could be another special group from Loyola. They are 74/1 at Barstool Sportsbook to make the Final 4. I played it. 

Sleeper: Bradley:  Brian Wardle is a terrific coach and somehow the Braves has been the last team standing the last two years. They welcome back elite big man Elijah Childs and shot blocking extraordinaire Ari Boya. This front court is massive and will be tough to deal with. The guard play will be solid too with newcomer transfer Sean East. He was a really good distributor at UMass and should be able to be a great floor general for Bradley.  Keep an eye on Finnish product Ville Tahvanainen. In conference play last year he shot a blistering 47% from long range. This team is underrated and well coached. Wouldn't be surprised if they are there at the end again.


MOUNTAIN WEST: San Diego State: It can be said that the Aztecs lost a ton last year obviously. Malachi Flynn was fantastic and will be a first round pick in the NBA Draft. But coming back this year I'm just fine with what they have. Enter CSUN transfer Terrell Gomez. Gomez is a sturdy but small guy that can get into the lane and score with the best of them. I will be excited to see what Dutcher gets out of him defensively. It was optional to play defense at Northridge. They also welcome back Matt Mitchell who could be poised for a special senior season and big Nathan Mensah. Mensah had some health issues last year but is healthy and will be a top big in the conference. He's a great shot blocker and wildly good rebounder. There is a lot to like about SDSU, add in the fact that they are always good in the half court defensively and Gomez and Mitchell are both yin and yang type players who compliment each other, I love them. 

Sleeper: UNLV: In the second year of the TJ Otzleberger experience in Las Vegas, I'm excited. They really came on strong defensively as the year went on and the offense got better and better. They welcome back guard Bryce Hamilton who will lead them. Against conference opponents last year, he averaged 21 points a game. I'm high on David Jenkins who followed his old coach from South Dakota State. He is a sharpshooter and should slot in well with Hamilton and fellow guard Marvin Coleman. Keep an eye on Cheikh Mbacke Diong. He is important to the defense Otz wants to play and will really hold down the paint. Should be a renaissance type of year in Sin City. 


NEC: LIU Brooklyn: I know they are called LIU now, but they was always be LIU Brooklyn to me. One of my most vivid memories was a few years ago when I hit them at 10/1 to win the NEC. I'll be looking towards them a again this year. They do a lose a ton of talent but retain a good amount to. One thing to know about Derek Kelloggs team is that they love to run. They love to get out and run in transition and bury you. They ran a top 25 pace in the country last season. They will be able to do that with returning waterbug guard Jermaine Jackson and Virshon Cotton. Keep an eye on forward Ty Flowers. He is an elite defender and with him on the court they were strikingly better. He will be a tough matchup for teams on the block in this conference.They will score plenty and if they can get some stops defensively they will be tough to beat. The key to winning this conference is getting stops when it matters most. I think the Sharks can do it. They will battle FDU and Bryant til the end.

Sleeper: Fairleigh Dickinson: FDU made national news a couple years ago when they won a play in game in the tourney. They were elite that year offensively. They are elite this year offensively. They welcome back three double digits scorers including one the leagues best in Jahlil Jenkins. Coach Greg Herenda loves his team to jack threes and this year they won't miss a beat with most of the three point production back. They are just going to mostly outscore everyone and have the the best player in the conference. Jenkins can carry them.


OHIO VALLEY: Austin Peay: TERRY TAYLOR, TERRY TAYLOR. TERRY TAYLOR. The best player in the conference is back. Taylor torches everyone… and he has his running mate Jordyn Adams back as well. A 1/2 punch for the Governors. Carlos Paez is the perfect PG to run the show with so much offensive talent around him. Matt Figger has done a tremendous job in his few years after taking over from the great Dave Loos. If they can continue to blow teams away offensively and the terrific rebounding from last season continues, they will break through for the first time since 2016. 

Sleeper: Eastern Illinois: I've talked ad nauseam about continuity. EIU will have possibly the oldest team in the country. Literally every player that will get minutes is a senior. That's hugein a season like this one. They get some capable scoring back and if you know anything Jay Spoonhour offenses… its constant motion and cutting. If all the pieces fall into place, things could get interesting. They will be a thorn in teams side. 


PAC 12: UCLA: I'm high on this Bruin group. Mick Cronin continues to bring the Cincy toughness and grit to Westwood. Getting Chis Smith back to school was a huge get. To me, he may be the best player in the conference and this is a gigantic year for him. He was tremendous towards the end of the season. Tyger Campbell is a tough pure point guard and his basketball IQ is as good as you'll find. One thing I enjoy from Cronin is his obsession with with defense. He was able to quickly turn a bad defensive team into a respected one. Jalen Hill and Cody Riley will man the frontcourt and sniper Johnny Juzang a transfer from Kentucky will help in the corner and on the wing. Keep an eye on David Singleton, he's as underrated a defender you'll find. 

Sleeper: Washington:  I love the length, the zone, the suffocating they can do on defense at times. This year, Quade Green is back which helps the offense tremendously. They were terrible last season once he was ruled ineligible. They also attacked the transfer market for shooters grabbing sharpshooter Erik Stevenson and Michigan swingman Cole Bajema. If both of them get waivers this team will look a lot different on offense. Nahziah Carter, Jamal Bey, Hameir Wright are all terrific defenders and they are a deep team that can grown tremendously from last year until now. I may continue to be stubborn with the Huskies, but if it all comes together I'm excited. This will be a team that will be very tough to prepare for late in the season in situation with little rest. 



In mid/late December I will do a standalone preview of the conference. I will say Colgate and head coach Matt Langel will be high on my list. They welcome back one of the best players in the league Jordan Burns and his running mate Tucker Richardson. It will be interesting to see how they deal with losing Rapolas Ivanauskus who transferred. Keegan Records could fill the void. One thing to always love about Colgate, they are terrific from three always. Stand by the preview in a month or so. 


SEC: Tennessee: A lot of people will vilify me for not taking Kentucky. That's fine. I love BJ Boston and Terrence Clark. I just don't love the rest of the team. I'm sure they will prove me wrong and that's fine. But I really like the Vols. I watched Uruguyan PG Santiago Vescovi mature before our eyes last year as we came in mid season. He quickly became the general of the offense and I'm excited for a full year from him. His backcourt mate Jaden Springer, a McDonalds All American is the perfect compliment to Vescovi. He is also an above average defender something Rick Barnes will welcome. The front court is really good with POY in the league cadndiate Yves Pons and John Fulkerson. Tennessee can run the offense through both in the post. Keep in mind also, Pons was the Defensive POY in the league last year and is truly elite defensively. They are deep too. They bring in two solid transfers in Victor Bailey from Oregon State and EJ Anosike from Sacred Heart. Anosike is really good on the glass and will clean up a lot for the Vols. Dirty work type of player! I not only bet on them to win the conference, but I bet them to win it all at 35/1.

Sleeper: Florida: One small concern at PG. I'm not saying Tre Mann can't be the guy, but when Nembhard was off the court they struggled terribly and he's now gone completely. Mann or new transfer Tyree Appleby will have to pick it up and one will have to win the job. Appelby played well last year at Cleveland State, but this is a new ball game. Your point reigns supreme… if Lewis can be what we think he can be, the sky's the limit. He wasn't used much last year but has the potential to be an elite SEC player. Paired up with Keyonate Johnson, they will be a terror on the wings and in the front court. Johnson is really good and one of the best players in the conference. Big Omar Payne was brilliant last year at time and Florida could have a wildly good front court with him and Jason Jitoboh, a 7 foot 300 lb beast down low. Also don't forgot Michigan transfer Colin Castleton will offer an interesting matchup for them too. A 6'11 kid that can move around and shoot, sign Mike White up. Florida should play fast and throw plenty of different looks out there. One other guy that could be a glue guy is LA Tech transfer Anthony Duruji. He's a tough kid with a ton of hops and can block a shot on one end and give you a spot up 3 on the other. They have the ability if they figure the PG position out to win this league and be Final 4 good. 


SOUTHERN: UNC Greensboro: Furman will be tough but I'm going with the best player in the conference Isaiah Miller and UNCG. His offensive ability is terrific but defensively is where him and the Spartans get it done. They are pressure filled and relenting on that end. They press with reckless abandon. Last year they were top 10 in the country in steal percentage and they are agonizing to play against. The offense will be fine in the hands of Miller and Keyshaun Langley will look for a follow up to his SOCO Freshman of the Year award at PG. They added mammoth 7 footer Hayden Koval, a transfer from Central Arkansas. It will be interesting how he's worked in but a person that will big find his way in the SOCO. The last time they made the tourney was 2018, that year they almost knocked off Gonzaga, I think they'll have another chance to knock a team off in March. 

Sleeper: Wofford: The Terriers are generally a team I will always give respect to as long as PG Storm Murphy is there. He's sure handed and trusting with the ball and is as good a floor general in the mid major. He himself can snipe from three and with wings emerging as threats as well they should be another solid offensive team. There is also reason for hope in the front court with Messiah Jones and Isaiah Bigelow returning. This isn't the Wofford team of a couple years ago, but they have a great PG and players emerging. Look out. 


SOUTHLAND: Nicholls: A lot of people when they think Southland, they think Stephen F Austin. SFA lost a ton from a really good team last year and I'm going another way. Nicholls comes back this year off a solid season. They welcome back second leading scorer Andre Jones. He shot over 51 percent as a guard which is quite impressive. Charlotte transfer Najee Garvin should be a really good wing player for a team that lacks a lot of size. The big add was Shawn Williams, When playing at East Carolina and NMSU he did some solid things and should welcome Southland Conference competition. Nicholls is good at forcing turnovers and do a nice job defending the three point line. Watch out for the Colonels!

Sleeper: Abilene Christian: The Wildcats return 4 of their 5 leading scorers and will look for life without Payten Ricks. But plenty of returning production helps soften the blow. Joe Golding teams are always solid defensively and will pester the hell out of you on that side of the ball. They are always deep too and that won't change this year. 


SWAC: Texas Southern: Plenty of depth and Johnny Jones is the reason for this one. Texas Southern is always a perennial favorite in the SWAC. Jones has done a great job of bringing in good talent and even transfers that are well equipped to handle to rigors of the league. Forward Yahuza Rasas is back is poised for a double double nightly. TSU loves to run and play with tempo. They run one of the fastest tempos in the country. Guards Bryson Etienne and John Jones are back, plus one of their leading scorer Justin Hopkins as well. The guard play will open up players like Rasas and returning 6'9 big Chris Baldwin who will take on a bigger role. Plenty of talent in Houston for Jones and crew. 

Sleeper: Jackson State: Deion Sanders will be happy with this one. The Tigers were really solid in the conference last year winning 9 of their last 12 games. A lot of reasons for optimism this year for them after that stretch. They bring back Preaseason SWAC Player of the Year Tristian Jarrett and DPOY favorite Jayveous McKinnis. These two are really good and will allow them to contend with teams like TXSOU. McKinnis is a specimen and grabbed over 9 boards a game and played hellish defense. Wayne Brent's team is always elite on the defensive end and that's what equalizes them in a conference where teams are generally poor defensively. With the leagues best player, the Tigers are very live.  Sadly fan favorite and viral sensation Snacks Lee is gone. 


SUMMIT: South Dakota State: Doug Wilson is back and the best player in the conference and a matchup nightmare. His ability on the block is impressive. He's a big reason they were 3rd in the country last year in 2PT%. The problem with the obvious double of him is other stars like Matt Dentlinger and a plethora of shooters are there to catch and shoot and bury you. Whether its the old regime with stars like Mike Daum or this one this offense is always top 50 nationally. There just isn't anyone that can match them on that side of the ball. Defensively they will be more solid this year with a more branded and cohesive team with a year under their belt with coach Eric Henderson. Will be another banner year in Brookings. Shout out to Reed Tellinghuisen!

Sleeper: South Dakota: Of course I'm taking them. The Summit will go through the Mount Rushmore State. If there's anyone that can match SDSU offensively it could be the Coyotes. Under a motion system, they are always uber efficient and will play out of the post with star Stanley Umede. They definitely lose plenty of production and there will be growing pains but when it matters most in early March, I trust the ability of the offense to throw something at SDSU. D2 transfer Kanon Koster should stabilize things in a fairly new backcourt group. 


SUN BELT: Little Rock: The Rock was actually the best offense in the league last year. Much won't change with the return of star Markquis Nowell. The 5'7 diminutive point guard is electric and will likely be the BIG MAN ON CAMPUS in this conference. Nowell and Little Rock will attack attack attack and get to the line. That's how they score and in a new age of fouls fouls fouls I'm interested. Keep in mind looking at numbers, this league fouls A LOT especially last year. One of the reason I love LR is become they welcome it. There are shooters all over this team and defensively they are good enough. Keep an eye on Ben Coupet who was a sniper for them last year and should be a nice compliment to the star that is Nowell. 

Sleeper: Georgia State: The Panthers will be a thorn in the side of Little Rock. Kane WIlliams, Justin Roberts and Corey Allen are terrific guards who will run run run in transition. Cincy transfer Eliel Nsoseme will help considerably a team that struggled on the glass last year. Season by season one thing is always constant with GA ST, the guard play is always elite and they will keep them in it this year. Kane Williams is a star. Plus this team can shoot. A top 50 team again from 3 will make them very interesting. 


WCC: Gonzaga: Gonzaga is the best team in this league by a extremely wide margin. They will not lose in this conference. BYU is down and St Marys lose Jordan Ford. Not only will they run through the conference but I bet them to win it all. Jalen Suggs is the best recruit they've had and is quite the legend. There's a story his dad vouched for where he said since the age of 5, he's shot 1000 shots a day. At 19 now if you do the math, that's over 5 million shots just in practice in his career. Pretty incredible work ethic. Alongside Corey Kispert and French phenom Joel Ayayi the sky's the limit for the Zags. Ayayi is quick and a terrific floor general. I love returning big Drew Timme, yet another elite big for the Bulldogs. Zags offense for the bigs is easy. Box out your man on defense and run towards the basket, guards get an outlet and look for you down the court to lay it in. It's actually quite simple. The Zags are constantly the number one offensive efficiency team in the country due to that. high/low action, great driving guards and high level high percentage shot creation. Keep in mind as well they were 7th in the country from long range last year. A wealth of riches. Defensively they will be solid as usual. Keep an eye out for returning underclassmen Anton Watson who will help on that end and Oumar Ballo, a physically imposing figure out of Mali who was terrific in FIBA U19 games defensively. He could be the next great defender at Gonzaga. He's huge and has a great motor. All the credit to assistant Tommy Lloyd, the best assistant coach in the country on continuing to find these diamonds in the rough on the international stage. Truly incredible… Zags are right there with Villanova as the best team in the country.

Sleeper: Pepperdine: I guess I have to pick a team maybe to give the Zags a game for a half or something. I will continue to say this is an awful conference outside of Gonzaga. BYU is down, SF and St Mary's too. Pepp is interesting in large part due to the return of volume scorer Colbey Ross. He's a tremendous guard and can shoot the lights out. He dropped 47 on the Zags in two games last season. Kessler is a nice Robin next to Ross as Batman. He's a good weapon on the block with plenty of tools in his offensive game. 


WAC: New Mexico State: The preemptive favorite yearly in the WAC is no different this year. Returning PG Evan Gilyard and star of the conference Jabari Rice things will flow for the Aggies and Chris Jans. Frankly, there just isn't a long of competition that can match what they do. Add in the fact this year they add Utah transfer Donnie Tillman. Tillman will quickly turn into one of the best players in the conference and should have a field day with much worse competition then what he faced in the PAC-12. They are deep elsewhere and should likely not lose in the conference. It's been a long time they lost in the WAC. That will be extended this year. 

Sleeper: UT Rio Grand Valley: They have plenty of talent and depth. Javon Levi is a true old school point guard who led the country in assists and paces them. Let's hope he becomes more of a complete guard. Western Kentucky transfer Marek Nelson should have a bigger role in South Texas and should be one of the better plays in the league. With the deep teams, the Vaqueros can throw out there, they will be a tough out. Lew Hill building something there, we hope. Texas Tech coach Chris Beard gave him props last year after they hung real tough with the Red Raiders. They led at the half in that game. 

There you have it folks… I didn't talk about every team but I talked about a lot. I hope you can use this to help you get prepared whether its futures, overall handicapping and or just want to see what I think about your favorite conference or team. I know this is really long, but I wanted to be thorough and show you the care I give the great sport that is college basketball. 

I have many things in the plans for college hoops. I have a podcast in the works and will release some final future blogs and more before we get started in two weeks. 

Can't wait to bet these games and entrench ourselves on the hardwood.