This was initially supposed to be part of the "Championship Week(s)" post, but it was already dragging on, and I was worried about just how far I could push you guys. BUT, no self-indulgent post is ever truly complete without a set of inconsequential predictions, so here are my picks for each and every conference tournament.
Atlantic Coast (March 13-16: Charlotte)
Top Seed: North Carolina/Duke
CC Pick: Duke
Carolina is the better team and will go further in the NCAA Tournament, but Duke has historically owned the Coliseum/Bobcats Arena in March, and they'll play harder and be more focused next week.
Atlantic Sun (March 5-8: Nashville)
Top Seed: Belmont
CC Pick: Belmont
The top-seeded Bruins appear poised for a three-peat, but their first-round opponent - the Fighting Camels of Campbell - were actually one of the two A-Sun teams to knock off BU in the regular season. Still, I think if anyone gets them, it's ETSU in the second round. November Cinderellas Gardner-Webb and Mercer are on the bottom half of the bracket, seeded sixth and seventh, respectively, but only one of them - the one that beat Kentucky - is really capable of making a run.
Atlantic 10 (March 12-15: Atlantic City)
Top Seed: Xavier
CC Pick: Massachusetts
This one is difficult since it's so unclear how the A-10 bracket is going to look right now, but the top seed never wins this tournament, so I'm staying away from the obvious choice and going with UMass, which should enter the tourney having won six straight
America East (March 7-9, 15: Binghamton/Championship Game at Higher Seed)
Top Seed: UMBC
CC Pick: Hartford
I've pretty much been in UMBC denial since the beginning of the season. I held onto my preseason pick - Vermont - for just a little too long, and then made the switch to Hartford near the beginning of February. I was really impressed with Warren McLendon when he played against Louisville, and despite his surprisingly pedestrian stats, I think he'll have a big tournament.
I say the top-seeded Retrievers go down to Vermont in the semis, and then the Hawks claim their first NCAA Tournament bid with a win at home on March 15.
Big East (March 12-15: New York)
Top Seed: Louisville/Georgetown
CC Pick: Louisville
I'm not sure they win at Georgetown on Saturday, but I do think the Cards are the best team in the league, and I like their chances in a neutral setting.
Big Sky (March 8, 11-12: Campus Sites)
Top Seed: Portland State
CC Pick: Portland State
The Vikings - who have a bye into the semifinals - have won 12 straight conference games, and swept second-seeded Northern Arizona in the regular season.
Expand your tournament Big Sky. It's bringing me down.
Big South (March 4, 6, 8: Campus Sites)
Top Seed: UNC-Asheville
CC Pick: Winthrop
There is one day off in between each round of this tournament, but I'm still concerned about Kenny George's knees. I think you might actually see Asheville shelve him completely in tomorrow's semifinal, sort of like a high school baseball coach who saves his ace for the championship, gambling that he can win the game before with his No. 2. I'd love to see the big man in the big dance, but I think Winthrop takes this thing for the 87th straight year.
Big Ten (March 13-16: Indianapolis)
Top Seed: Wisconsin/Purdue/Indiana
CC Pick: Wisconsin
Chalk another one up for the most underrated basketball program in America.
Big 12 (March 13-16: Kansas City)
Top Seed: Texas/Kansas
CC Pick: Kansas
Because they're good. Like, real good.
Big West (March 12-15: Anaheim)
Top Seed: CS Northridge/CS Fullerton/UCSB
CC Pick: UCSB
This one is pretty wide-open, so I'll call this a 1 1/2 star selection (/Five Star Rob). Pacific is probably playing better than anyone in the league, but getting that automatic bye into the semifinals is enormous, and the Tigers aren't finishing first or second. So I'll go with UCSB solely because they've got the best player in the league, and because I've actually seen them play.
Colonial Athletic Association (March 7-10: Richmond)
Top Seed: VCU
CC Pick: George Mason
If they can get by Wilmington in the semis, then I like Mason to knock off VCU in the finals and put the Rams' future in a little bit of jeopardy.
Conference USA (March 12-15: Memphis)
Top Seed: Memphis
CC Pick: Memphis
If you pick someone else and end up being right, you're still an idiot.
Horizon League (March 4, 7-8, 11: Campus Sites)
Top Seed: Butler
CC Pick: Butler
The Bulldogs start in the semis, and have to be hoping that No. 3 Wright State - which has beaten them three out of the last five times they've met, including in last year's final - gets knocked off by Valpo or Cleveland State. Bubble teams the world over feel the same way.
Top Seed: Cornell
CC Pick: Cornell
Oh my God I'm hilarious.
Metro Atlantic Athletic (March 7-10: Albany)
Top Seed: Siena
CC Pick: Rider
My second favorite league in all the land should provide one of the more entertaining tournaments, and (awesomely) each game will be on television. While the top five seeds could all legitimately win this thing, I think in the end it comes down to 1 vs. 2, with Jason Thompson and Rider advancing to the dance, where they'll scare the hell out of somebody for a half.
Mid-Eastern Athletic (March 11-15: Raleigh)
Top Seed: Morgan State
CC Pick: Morgan State
If Todd Bozeman is doing this by cheating, then he has some humongous testicles...and he should be banned from coaching for life. If not, then he's simply doing a hell of a job.
Mid-American (March 12-15: Cleveland)
Top Seed: Kent State
CC Pick: Kent State
I was thinking about taking Miami of Ohio before I watched the Golden Flashes methodically beat them by 11 last night. KSU is the best team in this league, but Akron, Western Michigan and Ohio are all almost just as capable of winning in a one-and-done situation like this.
Missouri Valley (March 6-9: St. Louis)
Top Seed: Drake
CC Pick: Illinois State
For whatever reason, I can't see Drake winning this tournament. They're certainly capable, but they've been playing to the level of their competition in recent weeks, and that won't get it done anywhere in March. Osiris Eldridge puts his name even further out there, and ISU becomes a dangerous 9-11 seed.
Mountain West (March 12-15: Las Vegas)
Top Seed: BYU
CC Pick: UNLV
No one in the MWC has beaten the Rebs at the Thomas & Mack Center this season, and I don't think that's going to change.
Northeast (March 6, 9, 12: Campus Sites)
Top Seed: Robert Morris
CC Pick: Robert Morris
The Colonials have won 13 straight.
Ohio Valley (March 4, 7-8)
Top Seed: Austin Peay
CC Pick: Austin Peay
I was all set to go with UT-Martin and the upset, and then the Skyhawks lost by 30 to Murray State in the last game of the regular season. As much as I'd love to see Lester Hudson in the dance, I'm going with Peay...which will be throttled by a No. 1 seed that Thursday or Friday.
Pac-10 (March 12-15: Los Angeles)
Top Seed: UCLA/Stanford
CC Pick: UCLA
The Bruins were one and done here a year ago, but I can't see them laying an egg two seasons in a row, especially with a No. 1 seed possibly on the line.
Patriot League (March 5, 9, 14: Campus Sites)
Top Seed: American
CC Pick: Navy
Home court advantage has historically been huge in this tournament, BUT I think top seed American goes down in the first round at the hands of last-place Holy Cross (UPDATE: This didn't happen). As a result, Greg Sprink and the Middies go dancing for the first time since '98 (UPDATE: Navy lost to Bucknell in triple overtime).
Southeastern (March 13-16: Atlanta)
Top Seed: Tennessee
CC Pick: Vanderbilt
While I'm aware that they might not need it, I don't think the Vols have the focus to get up for three straight games against teams less talented than they are. I really thought that Kentucky was going to take this before Patterson went down, but now I'm going with my man Shan (Come back Shan!) Foster and the 'Dores.
Southern (March 7-10: Charleston)
Top Seed: Davidson
CC Pick: Davidson
You go 20-0 in the regular season, and you get the benefit of the doubt.
Southland (March 13-14, 16: Katy, Texas)
Top Seed: Lamar/Stephen F. Austin
CC Pick: Stephen F. Austin
Sun Belt (March 5, 9-11: Mobile)
Top Seed: South Alabama
CC Pick: South Alabama
Home-court advantage looms large in what could end up being the best championship game of Championship Week.
Southwestern Athletic (March 12-15: Birmingham)
Top Seed: Alabama State
CC Pick: Alabama A&M
I'm not even going to try and act like I know anything about the SWAC, so I'm going with the shot-blocking machine that is Mickell Gladness to make A&M the annual overachieving HBC to make the trek to Dayton for the play-in game.
Summit League (March 8-11: Tulsa)
Top Seed: Oral Roberts
CC Pick: Oral Roberts
Probably a two-horse race between the Golden Eagles and IUPUI.
Western Athletic (March 11, 13-15: Las Cruces)
Top Seed: Boise State/Nevada/Utah State/New Mexico State
CC Pick: New Mexico State
The Aggies have really played well since Herb Pope finally became eligible, and Marvin Menzies is plenty capable of guiding NMSU to three wins in three days.
West Coast (March 7-10: San Diego)
Top Seed: Gonzaga
CC Pick: Gonzaga
Saint Mary's be way less gooder away from home than they is at home.
And that's how we end this.