Sunday was a fairly light day in the college basketball world as a few conferences wrapped up their regular seasons and three more teams punched their ticket to the Big Dance, bringing the total number now to four automatic qualifiers. Let’s check out the latest bracket and then dig into Sunday’s recap and look ahead to Monday’s action.
Bracketology: March 11th
|East Region (Washington, D.C.)||West Region (Anaheim)|
|East Region (Washington, D.C.)||West Region (Anaheim)|
|Columbia (Mar. 22/24)||Salt Lake City (Mar. 21/23)|
|1. Virginia (ACC)||1. Gonzaga (West Coast)|
|16. Norfolk St (MEAC) / St. Francis (PA) (NEC)||16. Iona (MAAC) / Prairie View A&M (SWAC)|
|8. Ohio State||8. Oklahoma|
|9. Ole Miss||9. Utah State|
|San Jose (Mar. 22/24)||San Jose (Mar. 22/24)|
|5. Virginia Tech||5. Nevada (Mountain West)|
|12. Alabama / Minnesota||12. Liberty (Atlantic Sun)|
|4. Kansas State||4. Florida State|
|13. Hofstra (Colonial)||13. New Mexico State (WAC)|
|Jacksonville (Mar. 21/23)||Tulsa (Mar. 22/24)|
|6. Villanova||6. Mississippi State|
|11. Arizona State||11. TCU|
|3. LSU (SEC)||3. Houston (AAC)|
|14. Harvard (Ivy)||14. UC Irvine (Big West)|
|Des Moines (Mar. 21/23)||Des Moines (Mar. 21/23)|
|7. Iowa State||7. Louisville|
|10. Seton Hall||10. Temple|
|2. Michigan State||2. Michigan|
|15. Colgate (Patriot)||15. Sam Houston State (Southland)|
|Midwest Region (Kansas City)||South Region (Louisville)|
|Columbia (Mar. 22/24)||Columbus (Mar. 22/24)|
|1. North Carolina||1. Kentucky|
|16. Omaha (Summit)||16. Bradley (Missouri Valley)|
|8. Iowa||8. VCU (Atlantic 10)|
|9. Washington (Pac-12)||9. UCF|
|Hartford (Mar. 21/23)||Salt Lake City (Mar. 21/23)|
|5. Buffalo (MAC)||5. Marquette|
|12. Clemson / Indiana||12. Murray State (Ohio Valley)|
|4. Wisconsin||4. Kansas|
|13. Vermont (America East)||13. Old Dominion (C-USA)|
|Tulsa (Mar. 22/24)||Hartford (Mar. 21/23)|
|6. Cincinnati||6. Auburn|
|11. Florida||11. Baylor|
|3. Texas Tech (Big 12)||3. Purdue|
|14. Georgia State (Sun Belt)||14. Montana (Big Sky)|
|Jacksonville (Mar. 21/23)||Columbus (Mar. 22/24)|
|7. Maryland||7. Wofford (Southern)|
|10. Syracuse||10. St. John's|
|2. Tennessee||2. Duke|
|15. Gardner-Webb (Big South)||15. Wright State (Horizon)|
- Last Four Byes: Baylor, Florida, TCU, Arizona State
- Last Four In: Minnesota, Alabama, Clemson, Indiana
- First Four Out: Texas, Creighton, North Carolina State, Belmont
- Next Four Out: Saint Mary’s, Providence, Xavier, Butler
Big Ten - 9
ACC - 8
SEC - 8
Big 12 - 7
American - 4
Big East - 4
Mountain West - 2
Pac-12 - 2
One-bid leagues - 24
Everybody remembers their first time at something, right? First kiss, first date, first big-boy job. It’s a special feeling. Well, the kids at Gardner-Webb will feel something for the first time and that’s a trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs won at Radford, 76-65, to win the Big South tournament and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. This is a basketball program that’s only played in Division I since 2002. Congratulations to coach Tim Craft and Gardner-Webb, who are currently slotted as a No. 15 seed (ironically here against Tennessee).
In the Missouri Valley, Bradley erased an 18-point deficit to defeat Northern Iowa. The Braves are in the field for the first time since their Sweet 16 run as a No. 13 seed in 2006. Bradley is projected as a No. 16 seed, but one of the two directly into the round of 64.
The third bid Sunday went to the Liberty Flames. In their first year as a member of the Atlantic Sun, Liberty went onto the floor of defending champion Lipscomb and knocked the Bison, likely, to the NIT. Some may argue Lipscomb have a small chance at an at-large bid, thanks to their win at TCU, but losing twice to Belmont means they’re probably behind the Bruins in the pecking order and if Belmont has a faint at-large chance, you can guess where Lipscomb stands. Liberty is in as a No. 12 seed, essentially replacing Lipscomb from Sunday’s update.
The most notable result elsewhere from Sunday was Houston’s big, 16-point victory over Cincinnati to claim the outright American Athletic championship and likely securing a top-3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
And in the Big Ten, Wisconsin won at Ohio State to claim the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten tournament and keep hopes alive for a protected seed in the NCAA Tournament. And Indiana avoided major disaster by holding serve at home against Rutgers. If the Hoosiers avoid utter embarrassment in the Big Ten tournament, they very well could sneak their way back into the NCAA Tournament. We also saw Iowa fall in overtime at Nebraska. Iowa is still very much in the field, but could be wearing their road jerseys in round one.
It is now nothing but conference tournaments from now until Sunday, when the NCAA field will be unveiled. Here’s your action for Monday, starting with the two championships game of the night.
Southern Conference Championship (in Asheville, N.C.)
No. 1 Wofford vs. No. 2 UNC Greensboro, 7:00, ESPN
Wofford has been a tear all season, as Gonzaga was the only other team to run the table in conference play. But don’t count out UNC Greensboro. This is a feisty team, coming off a tough win over a very good Furman team, the same Furman that won at Villanova in November. Wofford is probably a lock for the tournament no matter what, but Greensboro will do all they can to make the Southern a two-bid league. And that Villanova win will at least give Furman some consideration from the committee.
MAAC Championship (in Albany, NY)
No. 1 Iona vs. No. 6 Monmouth, 9:00, ESPN2
Tim Cluess just keeps making Iona a contender in the MAAC, even after tough competition from teams like Canisius, Quinnipiac and others. Speaking of Canisius and Quinnipiac, they ended up as two of Monmouth’s victims in their road to the final as the tournament’s No. 6 seed. A win would make Monmouth just the third team ever, joining 2008 Coppin State and 2013 Liberty, to reach the NCAA Tournament with 20 losses.
Horizon League Semifinals (in Detroit, MI)
No. 1 Wright State vs. No. 4 Green Bay, 7:00, ESPNU
No. 2 Northern Kentucky vs. No. 3 Oakland, 9:00, ESPNU
It feels like we’re on a collison course between the Raiders and the Norse, who shared the regular season season crown. But both teams are facing opponents with whom they split their respective season series, each winning on their home floor. The difference now is the tournament shifts to Little Caesars Arena in Detroit after quarterfinals on campus sites.
Colonial Semifinals (in North Charleston, S.C.)
No. 1 Hofstra vs. No. 5 Delaware, 6:00, CBSSN
No. 2. Northeastern vs. No. 3 Charleston, 8:00, CBSSN
Delaware pulled a mini-upset of William & Mary in the quarterfinals but now face a tall order against a Hofstra team that dominated the Blue Hens in both of their meetings during the regular season. The other semifinal should be a good one, as Northeastern and Charleston split during the season were separated by just one game in the final standings. Both also have some bragging rights to take away from the season. Northeastern defeated Alabama and Charleston has wins over both VCU and Memphis.
West Coast Semifinals (in Las Vegas, NV)
No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 8 Pepperdine, 9:00, ESPN
No. 2 Saint Mary’s vs. No. 7 San Diego, 11:30, ESPN2
Pepperdine and San Diego have both slogged their way through the stepladder format the West Coast returned to after a few years with a standard ten-team format. In fact, these teams have both already won three games to get to this point. But now they run into the standard of the West Coast and teams that have been resting for a few days while Pepperdine and San Diego have been battling their way to the semifinals. In all likelihood, we’re heading for yet another Bulldogs-Gaels West Coast final.
MEAC First Round (in Norfolk, VA)
No. 6 Savannah State vs. No. 11 Delaware State, 6:00, ESPN3
There are three games in the first round in the MEAC but the other two will be played Tuesday as the MEAC is another tournament that tries to help the top two seeds by giving them a day off between the quarterfinals and semifinals. This means the winner of this game will be off until Thursday where No. 3 North Carolina Central awaits before a potential Friday semifinal. Savannah State is playing in their final MEAC Tournament as their program is actually dropping to Division II next season.
MAC First Round (campus sites)
No. 12 Western Michigan at No. 5 Central Michigan, 7:00, ESPN+
No. 11 Ball State at No. 6 Eastern Michigan, 7:00, ESPN+
No. 9 Miami (OH) at No. 8 Akron, 8:00, ESPN+
No. 10 Ohio at No. 7 Northern Illinois, 9:00, ESPN+
The early games in the MAC are on campus sites, with the winners heading to Cleveland to meet the top four seeds (Buffalo, Toledo, Bowling Green and Kent State). Buffalo is the heavy favorite here.