ACC: Virginia Tech Hokies
The ACC is having a down year. With likely only Duke being a complete lock for the tournament, every win is important. Virginia Tech is currently 10-8 in conference and an unimpressive 18-11 overall. Of those 18 victories none of them are quad 1 wins. The best win of the season was at home against Notre Dame.
Virginia Tech will enter the ACC tournament, playing for their tournament lives. With the ACC not having the depth of previous seasons, the Hokies could play their way into the tournament. Tech features one of the best defensive teams in the country, they rank 17th in the country in points against giving up just 61 ppg. They are loaded with veteran players, starting three seniors and two juniors and a coach who knows how to win big games in Mike Young. Virginia Tech is not an offensive juggernaut, they are however very efficient on the offensive end. They are 22nd in the nation in shooting efficiency, they are led by Kevin Aluma, a Senior that can score from the inside or mid range. Along with Aluma, they feature some sharp shooting guards Storm Murphy and Hunter Catoor.
Virginia Tech as a team shooting 39% from deep and play hard nosed defense. Their record doesn’t show how good they are, they could easily make a run in the ACC tournament knocking another bubble team out of the big dance.
Big East: St. John’s Red Storm
The Big East was extremely underrated heading into the season. Most thought it was just Villanova or nobody, instead the Big East has been a breeding ground for tournament sleepers. Mike Anderson’s fast paced offensive attack could help the St. John’s Red Storm find themselves playing deep into March.
The Red Storm play at a pace that is hard to match. Led by Julian Champagnie who is averaging 23 ppg in Big East play, St. Johns can score with any team in the conference. They have already proven they can score against great defensive competition, putting up 84 against Seton Hall, 86 against Xavier and 94 against Butler. They lead the conference averaging 84 ppg, with a healthy Posh Alexander running the show the Red Storm can beat you in multiple ways. If they can carry their offense into the tournament they are going to be a problem for the opposition and anyone sitting on the bubble.
A-10: SLU Billikens
The Atlantic 10 will likely get at least two teams in the tourney. Davidson is a near lock, but VCU, Dayton and St Bonaventrue are knocking on the door, very quietly. With Davidson being a near lock, them losing in the A-10 tournament could be the downfall for a bubble squad needing the extra spot. In steps the St. Louis Billikens, Travis Ford’s Bills lost their best player before the season even tipped off but they still have put together a solid resume that while not tournament worthy shows that they can be very dangerous in a single elimination tournament. Much like the Red Storm SLU has set themselves a part on the offensive end, averaging a conference best 77 ppg. PG, Yuri Collins has become a conference player of the year candidate and likely will be a pre-season player of the year candidate in his junior year. Collins is an assist machine, averaging 8 per game on the season, he leads an offense that has multiple tools to thrash opposing defenses.
St. Louis had some bad losses, but played well against power house Auburn and beat Boston College and MTN West standout Boise State. The Bills are not great on defense but it isnt a liability. They rank middle of the pack in most categories and have a great rim protector in Francis Okoro controlling the paint. The Bills offense and ability to protect the rim without fouling will put them in great position to potentially win the A-10 tournament that outside of Davidson has not been elite teams.