Championship Week is here, which means automatic bids for the 2020 men’s NCAA tournament will be awarded left and right in the coming days…

Championship Week is here, which means automatic bids for the 2020 men’s NCAA tournament will be awarded left and right in the coming days…

Belmont’s Nick MuszynskiMitchell Layton/Getty Images
American: Connecticut
In each of the past three seasons, both the AAC champ and runner-up won at least 14 conference games during the regular season and earned No. 7 seeds or better in the NCAA tournament. But this year’s AAC is different and much more open to chaos. Houston is the team to beat, but Connecticut has been relatively hot lately and could be gearing up for a big surprise in its final AAC tourney.
Big Sky: Northern Colorado
There’s a top tier of Eastern Washington, Montana and Northern Colorado, followed by five other .500-ish teams that are at least capable of throwing a wrench into things. It wouldn’t be a big surprise if there’s only one member of that top tier still standing by the semifinals. Montana swept Eastern Washington who swept Northern Colorado who will be attempting to finish off a season sweep of Montana on Thursday night. Throw a dart and hope for the best.
Colonial: Towson
Six Colonial teams are ranked in the KenPom top 200, not one of which is in the top 120. While Hofstra has a slight advantage as that top team, anything could happen. There was a similar lack of separation in 2013 when No. 3 seed James Madison won it. Towson has as good a chance as any, considering it won at Hofstra by 11 last week.
MAAC: Saint Peter’s
This is usually the “Iona Invitational,” as the Gaels have won each of the last four MAAC tournaments. It has been a down year for them, though, paving the way for just about anyone to come away with this automatic bid. Siena, Saint Peter’s, Monmouth and Rider should be the semifinalists, but just take a guess from there. We’ll go with Saint Peter’s, which has won 10 of its last 12, including four victories over the other three.
MEAC: Norfolk State
Over the past nine years, a team seeded No. 6 or lower has won the MEAC tournament as many times as the No. 1 seed, each doing so three times. And the gap between No. 1 and No. 6 in this year’s standings is negligible. But let’s go with Norfolk State, which is hosting the tournament and has an 11-2 record at home this season.
Northeast: St. Francis (Pa.)
It’s a shame Merrimack is ineligible for postseason play because of some archaic rule that forces teams to wait a few years after transitioning from D-II to D-I before they can qualify for the NCAA tournament. And without the first-place Warriors, the NEC tournament is up for grabs with St. Francis (Pa.), Robert Morris and Sacred Heart as the most likely champions. Sacred Heart went 0-4 against the other two, though, so it would be quite impressive if they beat both to win.
Ohio Valley: Belmont
There’s little separating Belmont, Murray State and Austin Peay atop the OVC standings, but it is extremely pertinent information that Belmont has the No. 1 seed. Because of that, not only do the Bruins get a double bye into the semifinals, but they also get to avoid both the Racers and the Governors until the championship game. The winner of the projected Murray State-Austin Peay game will give Belmont a battle, though.
Southern: East Tennessee State
ETSU is the favorite, but Furman and UNC Greensboro aren’t exactly chopped liver. Even the third tier of Chattanooga, Western Carolina and Wofford could mess around and win this thing without surprising anyone. This should be the most entertaining tournament outside the top six leagues.
Sun Belt: Georgia Southern
Little Rock has the best record (21-10). Texas State is the best team, according to KenPom. South Alabama is the hottest team, going 8-0 in February. And don’t forget about Georgia State as the two-time reigning Sun Belt champs. So, what the heck, give us fourth-place Georgia Southern to win. This tournament is w-i-d-e open.

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