Now it’s going to start to get good. After a quiet start to the week, the big boys really start to take center stage today as more top conference tournaments, including the SEC, tip off, as well as what could amount to an elimination game in the ACC. We’ll recap Tuesday’s qualifiers and look ahead to what should be a fun Wednesday, including the lone automatic bid handed out and the last one before Saturday.
Bracketology: March 13th
|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|
|16. Iona (MAAC)||16. Prairie View (SWAC) / Norfolk State (MEAC)|
|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. Arizona State / Minnesota||12. Liberty (Atlantic Sun)|
|4. Kansas State (Big 12)||4. Florida State|
|13. Vermont (America East)||13. New Mexico State (WAC)|
|Jacksonville (Mar. 21/23)||Tulsa (Mar. 22/24)|
|6. Villanova||6. Mississippi State|
|11. TCU||11. Saint Mary's (West Coast)|
|3. LSU (SEC)||3. Houston (AAC)|
|14. Harvard (Ivy)||14. Montana (Big Sky)|
|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. N. Dakota St. (Summit) / F. Dickinson (NEC)||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. Alabama / Clemson||12. Murray State (Ohio Valley)|
|4. Wisconsin||4. Kansas|
|13. UC Irvine (Big West)||13. Old Dominion (C-USA)|
|Tulsa (Mar. 22/24)||Hartford (Mar. 21/23)|
|6. Cincinnati||6. Auburn|
|11. Florida||11. Baylor|
|3. Texas Tech||3. Purdue|
|14. Georgia State (Sun Belt)||14. Northeastern (Colonial)|
|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. Northern Kentucky (Horizon)|
Last Four Byes: Syracuse, Baylor, Florida, TCU
Last Four In: Arizona State, Minnesota, Alabama, Clemson
First Four Out: Indiana, Texas, Creighton, North Carolina State
Next Four Out: Belmont, Providence, Xavier, Butler
ACC - 8
Big Ten - 8
SEC - 8
Big 12 - 7
American - 4
Big East - 4
Mountain West - 2
Pac-12 - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid leagues - 23
Five bids were handed out Tuesday. Three games tipped at 7:00, all of which were battles of the top two teams in the league. In the end, all the top seeds were given one-way tickets to the NIT, as Northern Kentucky (Horizon), Fairleigh Dickinson (Northeast) and Northeastern (Colonial) all punched their tickets to the big dance. Northeastern is in as a No. 14, Northern Kentucky is a No. 15 (but could move up to No. 14) and Fairleigh Dickinson looks destined for the First Four.
Omaha had a shot to reach their first NCAA Tournament, but came up short once again, as the Bison of North Dakota State returned to the throne of the Summit League after three years of Mike Daum and South Dakota State. The Bison, like Fairleigh Dickinson, are likely heading for the First Four.
Down goes No. 1
And then there was the West Coast. And bubble teams everywhere are now sweating a little more than they were before Tuesday. That’s because Saint Mary’s, who were themselves a bubble team, took their fate out of the committee’s hands and left no doubt, as they dealt Gonzaga their first conference loss of the season, 60-47, to win the West Coast tournament and the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, meaning Gonzaga will take an at-large bid away from another bubble team. Based on our current board, that team is Indiana, while Arizona State now drops into the last four in group. The Gaels are in as a No. 11 seed.
As for Gonzaga, there are some that may feel they are now not a No. 1 seed. I am not one of those people. The resume is still strong and they still have a win over Duke. But I will say their hopes of being the overall No. 1 seed are out the window. Virginia now looks in good shape for that. Gonzaga is still No. 2 overall, for now, but that could change. But it will take a lot for them to drop to the No. 2 line.
Patriot League Championship
No. 2 Bucknell at No. 1 Colgate, 7:30, CBSSN
These two teams shared the regular season championship and split their two meetings, but the tiebreaker gave Colgate the top seed, and in this tournament, that loomed large, as Colgate gets to host the two-time Patriot League champions, Bucknell. Colgate has not danced since 1996.
ACC Second Round (in Charlotte, NC)
No. 8 North Carolina State vs. No. 9 Clemson, 12:00, ESPN
No. 5 Virginia Tech vs. No. 12 Miami (FL), 2:00, ESPN
No. 7 Louisville vs. No. 15 Notre Dame, 7:00, ESPN
No. 6 Syracuse vs. No. 14 Pittsburgh, 9:00, ESPN
The big story here is the first game of the day, as North Carolina State and Clemson may be fighting for their NCAA Tournament lives. The winner has hope and gets a chance to really make a statement against No. 1 Virginia, while the loser will have a long wait until Sunday. Syracuse should be okay but they should take care of business to avoid any potential danger, especially against a Pittsburgh team that finished 14th in the league. Virginia Tech and Louisville are playing for seeding at this stage.
Atlantic 10 First Round (in Brooklyn, NY)
No. 12 George Washington vs. No. 13 Massachusetts, 1:00, ESPN+
No. 11 Richmond vs. No. 14 Fordham, 3:30, ESPN+
Early-round action in Brooklyn featuring the bottom four teams. VCU is the favorite here and should be close to a lock for the NCAA Tournament, but Davidson and Dayton have more than a fighter’s chance to make this a two-bid league.
Big 12 First Round (in Kansas City, MO)
No. 8 TCU vs. No. 9 Oklahoma State, 7:00, ESPNU
No. 7 Oklahoma vs. No. 10 West Virginia, 9:00, ESPNU
Some bubble action in the Big 12, particuarly TCU. The Frogs are currently among the last four byes, but a loss to the Pokes will really sting and could potentially knock them completely out. Oklahoma is probably in, regardless, but their seeding will take a hit if they fall to the Fighting Bob Huggins.
Big East First Round
No. 8 Providence vs. No. 9 Butler, 7:00, FS1
No. 7 St. John’s vs. No. 10 DePaul, 9:30, FS1
Now we’re really talking Wednesday bubble action. Three of these four teams still have something to play for and only St. John’s can feel good about their tournament hopes, though a loss to DePaul could be troublesome. Providence and Butler is a true elimination game.
Big Sky First Round (in Boise, ID)
No. 8 Northern Arizona vs. No. 9 Sacramento State, 11:30
No. 7 Southern Utah vs. No. 10 Idaho State, 2:00
No. 6 Montana State vs. No. 11 Idaho, 4:30
Some new digs for the Big Sky tournament as the field now heads to Boise after making their home in Reno, NV. Montana is once again the top dog in this tournament with Northern Colorado right there in the mix.
Big Ten First Round (in Chicago, IL)
No. 12 Rutgers vs. No. 13 Nebraska, 6:30, BTN
No. 11 Illinois vs. No. 14 Northwestern, 9:00, BTN
It’s still surreal to think that Nebraska was competing for an at-large bid not long ago and now they’re wearing their road jerseys in the first round of the Big Ten tournament against Rutgers. They may not even have enough to make the NIT thanks to their epic self-destruction.
Conference USA First Round (in Frisco, TX)
No. 8 Louisiana Tech vs. No. 9 Florida Atlantic, 7:00, ESPN+
No. 5 UAB vs. No. 12 Middle Tennessee, 7:30, ESPN+
No. 7 Florida International vs. No. 10 North Texas, 9:30, ESPN+
No. 6 Marshall vs. No. 11 Rice, 10:00, ESPN+
The intriguing part of the Conference USA tournament is having two games played at the same time in the early rounds. But this league has been controlled by Old Dominion most of the way, but Western Kentucky and Southern Miss are teams to watch as well.
MEAC Quarterfinals (in Norfolk, VA)
No. 1 Norfolk State vs. No. 9 South Carolina State. 6:00
No. 2 North Carolina A&T vs. No. 7 Coppin State, 8:00
As we’ve mentioned before, the MEAC is set up where the top two seeds will play today in the quarterfinals with a potential off day Thursday, while the three and four seeds play their quarterfinals, before the semifinals on Friday. Norfolk State is clearly the favorite as the top seed and having the tournament in Norfolk.
Mountain West First Round (in Las Vegas. NV)
No. 8 Boise State vs. No. 9 Colorado State, 2:00
No. 7 New Mexico vs. No. 10 Wyoming, 4:30
No. 6 Air Force vs. No. 11 San Jose State, 7:00
After playing host to the West Coast, Las Vegas welcomes in the Mountain West and a league that looks to be sending at least two teams to the dance in Nevada and Utah State. If there’s a potential spoiler in this field, it’s San Diego State, who has defeated both Nevada and Utah State and is set up to meet to Wolf Pack in the semifinals if they get past UNLV.
Pac-12 First Round
No. 8 USC vs. No. 9 Arizona, 3:00
No. 5 Colorado vs. No. 12 California, 5:30
No. 7 UCLA vs. No. 10 Stanford, 9:00
No. 6 Oregon vs. No. 11 Washington State, 11:30
It’s hard to think of the last time a Power 5 conference has been this down but yet here we are with the Pac-12. Washington is obviously the favorite and the only safe bet for the NCAA Tournament, if you want to call them safe. Maybe best bet might be a better term.
SEC First Round
No. 12 Missouri vs. No. 13 Georgia, 7:00, SECN
No. 11 Texas A&M vs. No. 14 Vanderbilt, 9:30, SECN
Like the Big Ten, the cellar dwellers get to take center stage as the SEC Tournament gets underway. The highlight here is Vanderbilt trying to avoid an 0-19 conference season. Auburn and Mississippi State await today’s winners in the second round.
Southland First Round
No. 5 Lamar vs. No. 8 Houston Baptist, 6:00, ESPN+
No. 6 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi vs. No. 7 Central Arkansas, 8:30, ESPN+
It’s been Sam Houston State versus the world in the Southland conference this year and with the stepladder format, the Bearkats get a bye to the semifinals, along with Abilene Christian. New Orleans and Southeastern Louisiana will meet the winners on Thursday.