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Joe Boozell | | March 12, 2019

A sleeper to watch for every conference tournament that starts this week

Conference tournaments have already begun, but the auto bid extravaganza really heats up this week.

Here is a sleeper pick to win each conference tournament that starts on Tuesday or later.

The pick: Temple (4 seed)

The Owls are 13-5 in the league and have won six of their last seven. They also play well against the best of the AAC: Temple beat UCF in the final game of the regular season and dealt Houston one of its three losses on the year. Shizz Alston is one of the best players in the league.

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Atlantic 10
The pick: St. Bonaventure (4 seed)

The Bonnies got off to a really tough start and are only 16-15 on the year. But they've won seven of their last eight, and made it to Dayton last season. St. Bonaventure has a top 55 defense in America.

The pick: Virginia Tech (5 seed)

Admittedly, it's hard to pick against Virginia, North Carolina or Duke here. All of those schools are in the conversation for 1 seeds. But the Hokies are lethal from 3-point range; they make 39.8 percent of their shots from long distance. If they get hot this week, look out.

Big 12
The pick: Kansas (3 seed)

Kansas may not seem like a sleeper at first glance. They won 14 Big 12 titles in a row, after all. But the Jayhawks haven't played well lately and are without Udoka Azubuike and Lagerald Vick. The reason to like them? Just a hunch, but this program thrives the moment anyone counts them out. Texas Tech is by far the hottest team in the conference, but Kansas has to be hungry.

Big East
The pick: Seton Hall (4 seed)

The Big East might be the most wide open conference tournament. Villanova and Marquette have been the two best teams in the league all year, but both are scuffling. Keep an eye on the Pirates, who just knocked off that duo in the last week.

Big Sky
The pick: Portland State (6 seed)

Let's get crazy here. Portland State has won seven of eight, and it absolutely mashes people on the offensive glass. The Vikings collect 38.4 percent of their own misses, which leads college basketball. They have an identity, and are hot right now.

Big Ten
The pick: Wisconsin (4 seed)

The Badgers have Ethan Happ and the nation's No. 4 defense. Meanwhile, the teams ahead of them are beatable. Michigan is struggling, Michigan State is shorthanded, and Purdue is hot, but isn't exactly a juggernaut. Wisconsin has a track record of March success.

Wisconsin survives Ohio State

Big West
The pick: Cal State Fullerton (3 seed)

Basically any school besides UC Irvine, which is 15-1 in the league, should be considered a sleeper. The Titans have the No. 2 defense in the conference and have a nice senior backcourt in Khalil Ahmad and Kyle Allman.

Conference USA
The pick: FIU (7 seed)

A deep sleeper here, but FIU is a fun team to watch when it's rolling. The Panthers lead the country in tempo and can run foes out of the gym. They've also won five of their last six games.

Ivy League
The pick: Penn (4 seed)

Only four teams are competing in this one, but keep an eye on Penn. The Quakers have won three straight, including a decisive win over Yale. They do an excellent job of defending opposing 3-pointers and force foes into isolation ball.

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Mountain West
The pick: UNLV (5th place)

Nevada is the clear favorite in the MWC, but UNLV has quietly had a nice season. They've won five of seven, are 15th in the country in offensive rebounding rate, and have several good 3-point shooters in the backcourt.

The pick: Utah (3rd place)

The Pac-12 would love to see anyone other than Washington win the conference tournament so it can sneak another team into the dance. Utah has the No. 21 offense in the country and can beat anyone in the league when it's moving the ball side-to-side and playing with pace.

The pick: Auburn (4th place)

Tennessee, Kentucky and LSU are the three best teams in the league, in some order. But the Tigers have a lethal backcourt and just beat the Volunteers. Auburn has won four straight and has the highest defensive turnover rate in the land.

Auburn upsets No. 5 Tennessee

The pick: Southeastern Louisiana (4th)

The Lions have an outstanding senior duo in Moses Greenwood and Marlain Veal, and have only lost twice since the start of February.

The pick: Texas Southern (2nd)

Second may not seem like much of a sleeper, but it is when you're competing with 17-1 Prairie View A&M. The Tigers play at the fifth-fastest pace in America and have athletes up and down the roster.

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Sun Belt
The pick: Louisiana Monroe (6th)

Daishon Smith is good enough to carry the Warhawks to the crown. They shoot 39 percent from 3 as a team and, while they can be inconsistent, their ceiling is up there with anyone in the Sun Belt.

The pick: Utah Valley (2nd)

Again, the WAC has a one-loss conference team in New Mexico State which is the clear favorite. But Utah Valley ranks 75th in offense, and the Wolverines can bomb 3s with the best of them. They connect on almost 40 percent of their triples.

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