The college basketball regular season is set to begin and the road to March Madness will also start in earnest. While most of the teams in power conferences will view the regular season as merely a tuneup to get ready for the dance, mid-major or low-major leagues will live or die with every result that could set them up for success in their conference tournaments.
In an exercise that is undoubtedly asking to age poorly, let's predict the 32 conference champions across Division I of college basketball. We'll go alphabetically, beginning with the America East.
2023-24 College Basketball Conference Championship Predictions
America East: UMass Lowell
Vermont has won this league four times in the past five years but the River Hawks are knocking on the door of success. Forward Abdoul Karim-Coulibaly is the top dog for UMass Lowell, which is returning three starters from the team that fell to Vermont in the America East title game last year.
American Athletic Conference: Florida Atlantic
There's a big sea change in the American as four of its top teams moved on to the Big 12 and a litany of newcomers from Conference USA arrived to succeed them. The most notable is Florida Atlantic, which proves its Final Four trip a year ago was no fluke by winning the American in its first year.
There's no need to overthink this one. Duke is always talented and the fact they have four returning starters makes them well-equipped to cruise to victory in the ACC this season.
Atlantic 10: Dayton
The Flyers barely missed the field last season and take care of business by snagging the A-10's auto-bid this year. Dayton's 1-2 punch of Daron Holmes II and Malachi Smith leads an experienced team into March Madness.
Atlantic Sun: Eastern Kentucky
The Colonels are the heavy favorite to win the Atlantic Sun and have the conference's Preseason Player of the Year in Devonte Blanton as well as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year in Isaiah Cozart.
Big 12: Kansas
The conference added more heft with the additions of Houston, Cincinnati and SMU but when in doubt ride with the Jayhawks. The top team in the preseason polls added the biggest impact transfer available in former Michigan center Hunter Dickinson.
Big East: Marquette
The Golden Eagles return 85 percent of their minutes from a year ago and have the favorite to win Big East Player of the Year in Tyler Kolek. Shaka Smart's crew will be heavily challenged by UCONN and Creighton but their experience wins the day.
Big Sky: Weber State
The Wildcats bring back the best player in the Big Sky in Dillon Jones, who explored the NBA Draft process before returning to school. Jones is the only player in program history with at least 1,000 points, 800 rebounds, 250 assists and 100 steals, which is a good way to say he can contribute in all facets of the game.