Teams that are already in the NCAA Tournament…
Cornell Big Red (27-4, Ivy League), Winthrop Eagles (19-13, Big South), Murray State Racers (30-4, Ohio Valley), East Tennessee State Buccaneers (20-14, Atlantic Sun), Northern Iowa Panthers (28-4, Missouri Valley)
Teams that clinched automatic bids on Monday…
St. Mary's Gaels (26-5, West Coast): Forget about the bubble talk this year for the Gaels. They're certainly going dancing now after taking out Gonzaga in the WCC final on Monday night. The victory had to be sweet for St. Mary's after losing to the Zags twice in the regular season, and now they'll probably find themselves in a very comfortable #9 or #10 slot on Sunday.
Siena Saints (27-6, Metro Atlantic): The bubble dwellers might not have liked the St. Mary's result, but watching Siena come from 15 points behind against Fairfield to clinch up the Metro Atlantic's automatic bid had to be a sigh of relief. Siena may or may not have ultimately made it to the dance, but now, there is no doubt. This is a team that has snuck up on some solid foes in recent seasons, and if history is any indicator, some #5 or #6 seed is going to be very, very upset to see the Saints as their first round draw.
Old Dominion Monarchs (26-8, Colonial): More bubble trouble was averted on Monday night when ODU earned what will amount to be the only bid from the CAA this year. The Monarchs were probably solidly in the field one way or the other, but now, a spot very similar to St. Mary's bid could be earned. Considering this is a team that already has an upset over Georgetown in DC to its credit, the other teams in Old Dominion's bracket are already on notice.
Wofford Terriers (26-8, Southern): It took fending off a huge comeback, but the Terriers got the job done and won the SoCon on Monday night. Traditionally, this is a conference that has the ability of pushing teams to the brink in the NCAA Tournament. Wofford might just be a #13 or #14 seed, but the possibility is there of a huge upset if the matchup falls properly for this team.
Teams vying for automatic bids on Tuesday…
Oakland Golden Grizzlies (25-8, Summit): The Grizzlies have only lost one game since the end of December, which makes them a prime candidate to take down the Summit League's automatic ticket to the tournament. However, the one team that they lost to was the team that they'll face tonight, IUPUI. Don't think that there isn't a lot of history at that point, either. Oakland is going to want some major payback for getting beaten down by 24 points. Watch out for F Keith Benson, who is averaging a double-double this year and is coming off of a 17 point, 17 rebound performance against IUP-Ft. Wayne last night.
IUPUI Jaguars (24-9, Summit): Pop quiz, hot shot! Syracuse ranks #1 in the country in field goal percentage. Any idea who is #2? How many teams would you have had to go through to reach the Jaguars? If G Robert Glenn can score anywhere near his average of 19.6 points per game in the Summit League finale, the Jaguars may be able to swipe a ticket to the NCAA Tournament.
Butler Bulldogs (27-4, Horizon): Here's some bad news for bubble teams. If the Bulldogs don't win the Horizon League, yet another team on the already crowded bubble will be pushed to the outside and into the NIT. Obviously, Butler is one of the best mid-major teams in the country, and it has some fantastic wins over some quality foes outside of the league. This is the only team in America that can say that it didn't lose a conference game all season long, which common logic would like to think will hold true in the 20th game of its Horizon schedule.
Wright State Raiders (20-11, Horizon): This has been the much-anticipated game that Horizon League followers have been waiting for. The Raiders have the defensive abilities to hang with Butler, but there's a question about whether or not there is enough offense to go around as well. F Ronnie Thomas scored 18 points in Wright State's Horizon semifinal victory over Detroit, and he'll need to be a force to make this a two-bid league to the dance.
North Texas Mean Green (23-8, Sun Belt): The Mean Green have won ten straight games coming into the Sun Belt final on Monday night. However, wins against Louisiana-Monroe and Denver, both of which were relatively close calls, might've taken a little something out of this team. This is a squad that really only goes seven to eight players deep, so playing for the third time in as many days could be debilitating. Regardless, F Tristan Thompson has been playing out of his mind lately, scoring 19 against Denver and 16 against Louisiana-Monroe, and he'll need a third straight big showing for the regular season Sun Belt champs to go dancing.
Troy Trojans (20-11, Sun Belt): Troy won the weaker half of the Sun Belt this season, and has earned its right to face the Mean Green for the automatic bid to March Madness. Depth may once again be an issue with this team as well though, as the Trojans only have five players on the court for more than 18 minutes per game and eight that play more than three minutes per game. G Michael Vogler could make the difference even though he has been quiet in this tournament. The point guard is shooting 49.6% from the floor and 45.1% from beyond the arc this year, and he also leads the team in assists at 5.5 per game.
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