March Madness: Current NCAA Tournament Automatic Bids 3/14

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), St. Mary's Gaels (26-5, West Coast), Siena Saints (27-6, Metro Atlantic), Old Dominion Monarchs (26-8, Colonial), Wofford Terriers (26-8, Southern), Oakland Golden Grizzlies (26-8, Summit), Butler Bulldogs (28-4, Horizon), North Texas Mean Green (24-8, Sun Belt), Robert Morris Colonials (23-11, Northeast), Montana Grizzlies (22-9, Big Sky), Lehigh Mountain Hawks (22-10, Patriot)

Teams that clinched automatic bids on Saturday…

Houston Cougars (19-15, Conference USA): And the bubble shrinks… The Cougars upset UTEP on Saturday afternoon to take the Conference USA automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. It wasn't a particularly strong game for a lot of players on the #7 seed in the C-USA Tourney, but if guys like G Kelvin Lewis are scoring 28 points, this is going to be a tough team to bounce. One of the best scorers in America, G Aubrey Coleman, won't be held to 4/20 shooting every night. Look for the Cougs to be on the 14 line come Sunday.

Vermont Catamounts (25-9, America East): The Catamounts used a great offensive effort to take care of Boston U and advance to the NCAA Tournament. F Marqus Blakely had one heck of a championship game, scoring 24 points and bringing down 18 rebounds. He's going to probably be in for a heck of a test regardless of who he has to go up against in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. A #15 seed probably awaits Vermont.

Morgan State Bears (27-9, MEAC): The top team in the MEAC all season long earned its way into the dance on Saturday afternoon in the conference championship. Even though leading scorer G Reggie Holmes had his third straight subpar game, three other Bears scored in double digits. This could be a potentially dangerous team if all of the offensive weapons are clicking, but it's only going to leave Morgan State as a #14 at best.

Sam Houston State Bearkats (25-7, Southland): The Bearkats are dancing for the first time since 2003, and they did so by putting together a solid effort to dismiss of Stephen F. Austin. The defense has been hit or miss for this team of late, but it was certainly a hit on Saturday, winning 64-48. Now, SHSU is going to find itself as a #13 seed that is going to need a big effort to take out a #4 in the dance next week.

Kansas Jayhawks (32-2, Big XII): Kansas has certainly earned its way to the #1 seed in the Midwest Region after winning the Big XII over Kansas State on Saturday. Rock Chalk has one of the most talented teams in the country, and it has made a case to be the #1 overall seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. HC Bill Self is going to have one of the hefty favorites to win the whole enchilada.

Ohio Bobcats (21-14, MAC): In a conference where both Kent State and Akron dominated all season long, the Bobcats are the one team dancing from the bunch. No one can say that Ohio didn't deserve its spot in the field, as it took out both the Golden Flashes and the Zips en route to the MAC's automatic bid. The Bobcats may only be destined to be a #15 seed in the field of 65, but at least they're dancing, which is more than anyone else can say in this conference.

San Diego State Aztecs (25-8, Mountain West): San Diego State was a bubble team coming into the Mountain West Tournament, and it seemed like all that was going to be needed to get into the field of 65 was a win over New Mexico in the league semifinals. Instead, the Aztecs removed all doubt by taking the whole tournament, beating not only the Lobos, but also the Rebels on their home court in Sin City to get the job done. Now, a #10 seed awaits the fourth team out of the MWC.

Washington Huskies (24-9, Pac-10): Just like the Aztecs, the Huskies successfully went from a team just barely hanging on to the bubble to a team that was probably just on the right side of the bubble to a team with an automatic ticket to the tournament in a span of three days. Washington used a potent offense and a deep bench to knock off California for the second time this season, both of which are going to need to be out in full force for the Huskies to get out of the first round of the NCAA Tournament as a #11 seed.

Arkansas Pine Bluff Golden Lions (17-15, SWAC): The defense for the Golden Lions came to play in what amounted to be an ugly SWAC Championship on Saturday night. Still, Pine Bluff's 12-point victory isn't going to take away from the fact that its body of work is still pretty miserable, even for a conference championship. That being said, this is certainly going to be a team that has to play its way into the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday.

West Virginia Mountaineers (27-6, Big East): The Mountaineers certainly made their case to grab a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament by knocking off the Hoyas right at the death thanks to F Da'Sean Butler. Now, WVU will play the waiting game. HC Bob Huggins doesn't think that his squad is deserving of a top seed, but if both Duke and Ohio State lose on Sunday, the 'Neers will probably be going West as the top seed up there.

Santa Barbara Gauchos (20-9, Big West): The Gauchos are going to have one of the youngest teams in the NCAA Tournament, but they took care of business in the Big West final on Saturday night against the 49ers. Santa Barbara has taken nine of its L/10 games going into the dance. It was smacked by 20+ points against the two Pac-10 teams that it played this year, so seeing it do any damage as a #15 or #16 seems highly unlikely.

New Mexico State Aggies (22-11, WAC): Was this the straw that broke the camel's back in terms of the bubble? Several bubble teams went to bed on Saturday night thinking that they were going to be okay for the dance that will wake up on Sunday only to find that another bid went down the drain. New Mexico State earned its way into the field by stopping the 17-game winning streak of Utah State on Saturday. The Aggies are going to be an interesting placement, but they'll probably end up as a #13 or so.


Teams vying for automatic bids on Sunday…

Kentucky Wildcats (31-2, SEC): If anyone thought that the Wildcats were going to take their foot off of the gas pedal en route to the SEC Championship Game, they were sorely mistaken. Kentucky absolutely obliterated the Volunteers, making amends for its most recent loss. It's hard to cross this team right now, and as has been proven all season long, if G John Wall, F DeMarcus Cousins, and F Patrick Patterson are on their game, this, at least to date, has been an impossible team to defeat.

Mississippi State Bulldogs (23-10, SEC): Most seasons, winning 23 games and reaching the SEC Final would be good enough to easily put any team in the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs are still sweating though, and they'll need to beat Kentucky on Sunday to remove any sense of doubt. It was a huge defensive effort for MSU that put it in this position, as Vanderbilt only shot 34.6%, and F Jarvis Varnado blocked six shots in the 62-52 win.

Temple Owls (28-5, Atlantic 10): All season long, the Owls have been talked about as a team that can make a major difference in the NCAA Tournament. Now, one of the best defenses in the nation has made a case to move up into the Top 4 seeds in the NCAA Tournament after absolutely crushing two A-10 foes in this tournament. Temple has the fourth best defense in college basketball, allowing just 56.3 points per game.

Richmond Spiders (26-7, Atlantic 10): The Spiders weren't on the radar for potential March Madness teams at the outset of the season, but a win over Florida in November really helped set the stage for this team to have a rocket of a rise up the charts in the country. Richmond cracked the Top 25 for awhile this year and may ultimately finish the season there as well, especially if it can find a way to knock off the Owls and capture the A-10 title.

Ohio State Buckeyes (26-7, Big Ten): There are still a host of teams that believe that they can be a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and the Buckeyes are amongst them. It took double overtime to finally get Illinois out of the Big Ten Tournament though, and there's a big question about how much fight OSU will have in it in Sunday's final after a pair of very, very tough games. F Evan Turner turned the ball over ten times on Saturday, but he did have a double-double with 31 points and ten boards.

Minnesota Golden Gophers (21-12, Big Ten): If the Selection Committee is determined to reward teams that do well in their conference tournaments,the Golden Gophers may already be in the NCAA Tournament. Regardless, this is a team that was left for dead just three days ago, and now, Minnesota is on the verge of ditching and bubble doubt. HC Tubby Smith's team absolutely destroyed Purdue on Saturday, which has set up a heck of a finale against OSU on Sunday.

Duke Blue Devils (28-5, ACC): It seems largely accepted that the Dookies, in spite of the fact that they have struggled in the NCAA Tournament, look to be the team that can play its way into the final #1 seed with a win over Georgia Tech on Sunday. Miami and Virginia both gave the Blue Devils a heck of a time, but in the end, Coach K's club did what it does best: It just keeps finding ways to win games.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (22-11, ACC): G-Tech has rumbled its way into the NCAA Tournament without a doubt after taking three games in the ACC Tournament. However, none of these games against UNC, Maryland, or NC State were anything like what the Blue Devils are going to bring on Sunday. HC Paul Hewitt will want to see a far less sloppy game than he saw on Saturday against the Wolfpack to continue to raise his team's confidence level going into the NCAA Tournament.

Lou Palumbo is the founder and part owner of the Sports Handicapping Community. He's been writing and posting free picks and sports handicapping strategies on the Cappersinfo forums and website for 15 years now. He enjoys handicapping just as much as he did from the very first day he built the original Cappersinfo website.

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