Keeping track at home: The automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament
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Conference Tournament Champions:
Atlantic Sun Conference: Belmont Bruins (27-7)
Belmont was the best team in the Atlantic Sun all season and rallied to beat Florida Gulf Coast in the conference tournament title game to earn the conference's automatic bid. The Atlantic Sun was likely a one-bid league regardless of who won the tournament, but the Bruins, who were a popular upset pick in last year's NCAA Tournament, could make some noise in March. Belmont is fourth in the nation in scoring and lost to Duke by just one point earlier this season.
Big South Conference: UNC-Asheville Bulldogs (24-9)
UNC-Asheville knocked off VMI in the Big South title game to earn an auto bid to take part in the Madness. The Bulldogs were the conference's regular season champion as well, and had they lost in the conference tournament they would not have gotten an at-large bid. They too can score, finishing fifth in the nation in points per game at 81.2.
Ohio Valley Conference: Murray State Racers (30-1)
Murray State is a top-10 team in the country, but some thought they needed to win their conference tournament to rest easy on Selection Sunday. Thanks to a Jewuan Long layup with 4.4 seconds left in the conference title game agains Tennessee State, the Racers can do just that--and so can another bubble team. Had Tennessee State prevailed in all likelihood Murray State would have stolen an at-large bid from a team hoping to get in. Long's layup clinched a 54-52 Racers' win.
Missouri Valley Conference: Creighton Bluejays (28-5)
Creighton's overtime victory over Illinois State in the Missouri Valley title game saved an at-large berth for another lucky team. Creighton, like Murray State, was almost assuredly in the the NCAA Tournament win or lose, but behind 33 points from All-American candidate Doug McDermott, the Bluejays prevailed, albeit after five extra minutes.
Colonial Athletic Association: Virginia Commonwealth Rams (28-6)
By besting Drexel in the CAA title game the Rams ensured that they would have a chance to return to the Final Four for a second straight season. Both VCU and Drexel were serious bubble teams going into the conference title game, and with the loss the Dragons are going to be sweating straight through Sunday. They don't have the most impressive resume, but until Monday's loss they had won 19 consecutive games. If I had to guess, they don't get in--but then again VCU wasn't supposed get in the tourney last season and all they did was go to the Final Four.
West Coast Conference: Saint Mary's Gaels (27-5)
In the WCC title game St. Mary's bested Gonzaga in a game that had barely any implications beyond NCAA Tournament seeding. Both teams were headed to the tournament regardless of the outcome, but the game didn't disappoint. Gonzaga scored five points in the final 15 seconds of regulation to tie the game, including a deep heave from Elias Harris to tie it with 3.4 seconds remaining sending it to overtime. However Saint Mary's was undeterred, and pulled off the win. Now the only question in the WCC is whether BYU (25-8) will get an at-large bid. The Cougars are hovering tenuously on the bubble, so all they can do is wait for Sunday. My guess is they will slide in as one of the last teams in.
Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference: Loyola (MD) (24-8)
Loyola downed Fairfield to earn its first bid to the NCAA Tournament since 1994. The Greyhounds ground out a 48-44 win to punch their ticket for a likely first-round matchup with a No. 1 or No. 2 seed. The MAAC favorite, Iona, fell in the semifinals to Fairfield, and with no quality wins it seems doubtful that they will get an at-large berth despite being the nation's highest-scoring team and having two stars in point guard Scott Machado and forward Mike Glover. Yes, the Gaels have an outside shot at a bid, but will likely need a lot of help to get in.
Southern Conference: Davidson Wildcats (25-7)
The Wildcats needed double overtime to keep the shoe from fitting cinderella hopeful Western Carolina. Instead, the Southern Conference favorite Davidson punched its ticket with a 93-91 win. The Southern Conference tends to be a one-bid league, and this year is no different. Had Davidson lost, it wouldn't have made the tournament.
Sun Belt Conference: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (14-18)
The Hilltoppers return to the NCAA Tournament with a 74-70 win over North Texas. At 14-18, though, Western Kentucky is likely destined for a play-in game and a No. 16 seed. The Hilltoppers have been hot lately, however, downing Sun Belt Conference favorite Middle Tennessee in the final game of the regular season before running the table in the tournament. That loss for the Blue Raiders, coupled with their collapse against Arkansas State in the Sun Belt Tournament quarterfinals, could mean NIT for Middle Tennessee.
Ivy League: Harvard Crimson (26-4)
The Ivy League doesn't have a conference tournament. However, Pennsylvania's loss to Princeton Tuesday assured Harvard of the Ivy League title and its first trip to the NCAA Tournament ever. Last year, the Crimson proved they were more than just Jeremy Lin, but were left on the outside looking in to the tournament. This year, Tommy Amaker's squad got over the hump and in. This isn't some slouch Ivy squad either. The Crimson boast wins over Florida State, Boston College and Central Florida. Had they not won the conference regular season championship, it would have been another week of sweating out the bubble for Harvard.
Summit League: South Dakota State (27-7)
The Jackrabbits needed overtime to earn their first NCAA Tournament bid. They prevailed over Western Illinois with a 52-50 win. While South Dakota State had a great season, the Summit League's top team in the regular season was Oral Roberts, and now they must sit and wait and hope they get an at-large bid--but their chances are slim despite a 17-1 record in conference this season.
Horizon League: Detroit (22-13)
Detroit used a huge second half to top Horizon League favorite Valparaiso in the conference title game. For Detroit, it likely means an unfavorable NCAA Tournament seed, and for Valpo it is the end of their season.
Northeast Conference: LIU Brooklyn (25-8)
In a perennial one-bid league, the Blackbirds, who were the conference favorite, earned a trip to the NCAA Tournament with a blowout win over Robert Morris. The NEC will be a one-bid league.
Patriot League: Lehigh (26-7)
The Mountain Hawks pulled off a mild upset of Bucknell to earn the Patriot League's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Lehigh enters the tournament on an eight-game winning streak. The Patriot League will be a one-bid league.
Big Sky Conference: Montana (25-6)
The Grizzlies used a huge second half to down Weber State in the Big Sky title game. Montana trailed by five at half before blitzing the Wildcats 54-30 in the second half to earn an automatic bid. The Big Sky will also be a one-bid league.
America East: Vermont Catamounts (23-11)
In what will be a one-bid league, the Vermont Catamounts bested the league's top team, Stony Brook on Saturday to earn an auto-bid.
Conference USA: Memphis Tigers (26-8)
Bubble teams breathed a sigh of relief with the Tigers victory over the Marshall Thundering Herd on Saturday. Memphis was headed to the NCAA Tournament regardless, so if Marshall won Conference USA, that would be one fewer at-large up for grabs. The game wasn't close, with the Tigers winning on their home floor 83-57.
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference: Norfolk State Spartans (25-9)
Norfolk State finished second in the MEAC regular season, but won the conference tournament to earn the league's automatic bid. The bubble teams needn't fret, however, because the MEAC will only send one team to the NCAAs, and Norfolk State will probably be a very low seed.
Southland Conference: Lamar Cardinals (23-11)
Lamar, under the tutelage of Pat Knight, is off the NCAAs after besting McNeese State in the Southland title game. UT-Arlington was the regular season champion of the Southland, but despite only losing one regular season conference game, UT-Arlington will not be getting an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Big 12 Conference: Missouri Tigers (30-4)
In a battle of two teams that will likely receive top-three seeds, the Tigers downed Baylor to win the Big 12. Now the question for Missouri is whether or not that is enough to earn a No. 1 seed over chief rival Kansas. My bet is Missouri ends up with a favorable No. 2 seed.
Big East Conference: Louisville Cardinals (26-9)
Last year's Big East Tournament champion used that title as a spring board to winning the National Championship. Can Rick Pitino's bunch do the same thing this year? The Cardinals slugged out a low-scoring 50-44 victory over Cincinnati to earn the Big East's automatic bid.
Western Athletic Conference: New Mexico State Aggies (26-9)
The Aggies finished second in the regular season in the WAC, but avoided first place Nevada in the tournament and ended up downing Louisiana Tech 82-57 to earn a bid to the NCAAs. Nevada will also likely grab a bid from the WAC.
Big West Conference: Long Beach State 49ers (25-8)
Looking for an upset special for the NCAA Tournament? The 49ers could be your squad. The Big West regular season champions also won their conference tournament Saturday with a 77-64 win over UC-Santa Barbara. Despite playing in a one-bid league, Long Beach State is battle tested, with wins over Pittsburgh and Xavier and losses to Kansas, North Carolina, Louisville, Kansas State and San Diego State.
Southwestern Athletic Conference: Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils: (21-12)
The SWAC regular season champions also won the conference tournament to earn and auto bid to the NCAAs. The SWAC is always a one-bid league and their conference champion is commonly given a No. 16 seed, so we'll see if that remains the case this year.
Mid-America Conference: Ohio Bobcats (27-7)
Ohio upset the MAC's top seed, Akron, in a thrilling 64-63 game to grab an automatic bid to the NCAAs. Poor Akron won the regular season title, but will be left on the outside looking in when the brackets are released on Sunday.
Pacific-12 Conference: Colorado Buffaloes (23-11)
In their first season in the Pac-12, the Buffaloes made a run (like I predicted) and won the conference tournament as a No. 6 seed. It seemed like no one wanted to win the conference title, and Colorado edged Arizona 53-51 to get the conference's auto bid. The Pac-12 will likely be a two-bid league, with California probably getting an at-large bid.
Mountain West Conference: San Diego State Aztecs (26-7)
In a showdown between two teams that had already locked up NCAA bids, the Aztecs downed New Mexico to win the Mountain West Conference title. They will be joined by UNLV, also from the Mountain West, in the NCAA Tournament.
Atlantic-10 Conference: St. Bonaventure Bonnies (20-11)
The Bonnies have a few bubble teams very unhappy with their victory Sunday. Xavier was headed to the NCAAs regardless, so St. Bonaventure's win stole a bid from a bubble team. THat could spell bad news for schools like Drexel, Washington and Mississippi State.
Southeastern Conference: Vanderbilt Commodores (24-10)
With an impressive showing, the Commodores handed the nation's No. 1 team, Kentucky, only its second loss of the season in the SEC title game. Both teams were tournament-bound already, and Kentucky will likely still be the No. 1 overall seed. Vanderbilt only helped its seeding.
Atlantic Coast Conference: Florida State Seminoles (24-9)
The Seminoles finished off an impressive couple of days with back-to-back wins over Duke and North Carolina to win the ACC Tournament title. It was the Seminoles' second win over North Carolina this season. All three teams are going to the tournament, the only question is whether North Carolina's loss will cost them a No. 1 seed or not.