TONDO: JeromeXXII Picks - Week 1
First week of Jerome Picks are in! Here is who have winning their respective tournaments and putting on their dancing shoes in a few weeks.
America East - Vermont
I would LOVE to put Bryant here, I really would, and I won't be mad if they upset Vermont and get back to the dance. However, the Catamounts own the America East, and they are poised to repeat yet again.
Atlantic Sun - Liberty
Similarly to the America East, Liberty owns the ASUN. They are a dominant mid-major, that plays slow, focuses on the perimeter, and has tremendous defense. It's their conference to lose.
Big Sky - Eastern Washington
With a 16-1 conference record, is anyone stopping the Eagles in the Big Sky? If Eastern Washington wins this conference, I could easily have them as an upset pick in the bracket. The team is loaded with talent, especially with sharp shooters Steele Venters, Angelo Allegri, and Tyreese Davis.
Big South - Longwood
A lot of the team has UNC Asheville, and rightfully so after they secured the No. 1 seed, but the Big South can go to anyone. Radford and Gardner-Webb are legit contenders, but I have a hunch on Longwood. It may because they aren't get the love they deserve but they boast a 20-11 overall record, and could surprise some folks down the stretch.
Colonial - Charleston
The Cougars have been in the top 25 and hold a seven game win streak, yet they fell to the No. 2 seed behind Hofstra after two CAA losses last month. Hofstra has been unstoppable, but let's not forget about what Charleston has done. They score 81.7 points per game, which is 17th in the country, and only allow 68. They have a reliable 10 player rotation, and can produce on both sides of the court.
Horizon - Youngstown State
I'm the lone chooser for Youngstown State to win the Horizon, and I am surprised. They lead the conference by two games, and have provided the most excitement out of the Horizon all season long. They score the 5th most points across the entire college hoops landscape (83.5) and boast an excellent quartet of guards Dwayne Cohill and Brandon Rush, and forwards Malek Green and Adrian Nelson. I am all in on the Penguins.
Northeast - Farleigh Dickson
Now I have FDU taking home the crown, and no disrespect to them because the Knights are a very good team, but Merrimack deserves to win the NEC. Yes, they have a losing record, but they are 12-4 in the conference and riding and 8 game win streak. Unfortunately for Merrimack, they still remain ineligible for the NCAA Tournament (which is dumb). If they win this year's NEC Tournament, the runner-up will represent the conference in the NCAA Tournament. Fairleigh Dickinson probably will wind up as the default choice.
Ohio Valley - UT Martin
UT Martin has never appeared in the NCAA tournament, but after an excellent transfer portal offseason and a top three seed in the OVC, I like their chances. They have already beaten Morehead State once, who says they can't do it again?
Patriot - Colgate
I was going to be cute and choose Navy as the upset, but who am I kidding. 11-2 at home and a six game win streak, Colgate is the obvious favorite, and this might a lock.
Southern - UNC Greensboro
This is a crowded conference, and I wanted to be a little edgy. Furman will most likely take this one home, but I like what I see out of UNCG. Earlier in the season, they played very competitive against Miami, Hofstra, Towson, and Arkansas. They already beat Furman once, and it will be interesting to see what Keyshaun Langley and Keondre Kennedy do in this tourney.
Summit - Oral Roberts
The Golden Eagles are an absolute lock. Max Abmas lead this team to the Sweet 16 just two years ago, and Oral Roberts is undefeated in the Summit League. This is a no brainer pick.
Sun Belt - Marshall
The trio of Taevion Kinsey, Andrew Taylor and Kamdyn Curfman are the keys for the Thundering Herd to win the Sun Belt. They are a well balanced team, being in the top 25 in the country in points, rebounds, and assists. If they play like they have all season, then there shouldn't be a question in them winning the SBC.
West Coast - St. Mary's
I strayed away from the pack on this one. I think Gonzaga is shaping up for a Final-Four run, but St. Mary's has been respectable and ranked all season long. Obviously, Gonzaga just won the last battle, and honestly, both teams will make the tournament, but at the end of the day, St. Mary's needs the win more. They need to come into the Big Dance with some wins and momentums, therefore I have them winning out the WCC.