Updated: Mar 4
Image: Washington Post
I'm going to be honest, I had never heard of the Jerome before I saw Tondo and Zimmer's entries, and thought I'd take a crack at it. I'm a huge fan of pick 'em games like this, and liked how Zimmer just went off his gut, so for the first week of conference tournaments, I'll make my decisions the same way.
Without any further ado, here are my picks for the first 13 2022 Conference Champions.
America East: Vermont
It's hard to pick against a mid-major school who goes 16-1 in conference play. There's a pretty decent drop-off in talent as we go down the rest of the table, so I think picking the Catamounts is as much of a lock as we'll get this March.
Liberty has rightfully taken their place as the frontrunner to win the ASUN for the fourth time in a row. However, they've been a bit shaky in their last few games, and the Dolphins, aside from a hiccup against FGCU (who also just beat Liberty), have been rolling.
Big South: Gardner-Webb
Defense wins chips, and the Bulldogs have the 56th best defense in the country. I think the Big South is good enough for Winthrop to be unseated a little bit before the final, and if that happens, GW has a relatively clear path.
William and Mary is bleeding hard down the stretch hard, entering the tourney on a 5-game losing streak. They'll crash and burn, leaving Towson with the perfect opportunity to walk right into the tourney.
Horizon: Cleveland State
Cleveland State couldn't close out the regular season championship and had to settle for the split. They won't be looking to settle for an NIT berth.
MVC: Loyola Chicago
This is a pretty shaky pick to be honest. The Ramblers have some tough competition in some of the best Drake and NIU teams we've seen ever, but I think they'll want to make one final statement in the Valley before heading to the A-10 next year.
Suck it, Will and Jake.
OVC and WCC: Murray State and Gonzaga
I lumped these guys together because I think they both are way too good for their current conferences, and their bracket formats will let them just walk in and walk out champs.
As a sleeper pick, I actually love Navy to make it all the way to final. They've been one of the best defensive teams in the country, and I think they'll fall just short of a conference title to a much better offense in Colgate.
Most teams in the SOCON are pretty good, but they don't have Malachi Smith.
Summit: South Dakota State
How can you not root for the Jackrabbits to keep winning all the way to the Big Dance?
Sun Belt: Texas State
There's this guy I follow on Tik Tok who does an NCAA Football 14 sim with Texas State, so GO BOBCATS.