March Madness: NCAA Tournament Bids 3/8/10

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)

Teams that clinched automatic bids on Sunday…

Northern Iowa Panthers (28-4, Missouri Valley): The Panthers' win over Wichita State in the Missouri Valley Conference finale had bubble teams across the country breathing a sigh of relief. Had the Shockers won, an at-large spot surely would've evaporated, as UNI was already in the field of 65. Wichita State may still have a claim to the bubble, but this way, all of the at-large bids are still remaining. Watch out for this Northern Iowa team, though. It played fantastic defense through the MVC Tourney, holding all three foes under 60 points, including keeping the first two to just 40. Seeding the Panthers is going to be tough though. They went 28-4, but they'll probably only be a #6 or so.

Teams vying for automatic bids on Monday…

Fairfield Stags (22-9, Metro Atlantic): The Stags played second fiddle in the MAAC all season long, but that doesn't mean that they can't upset Siena and swipe a bid to the NCAA Tournament. F Anthony Johnson and G Derek Needham scored a combined 38 points in Fairfield's win over Niagara on Sunday. The Stags already know that they can play in the Times Union Center, as they only lost by a bucket at Siena on February 8th.

Siena Saints (26-6, Metro Atlantic): Here's another team that will be sitting firmly on the bubble should it not grab its conference crown. The Saints are a team led by a ton of veterans, all of which have been involved in first round upsets in the NCAA Tournament in each of the L/2 seasons. HC Fran McCaffery has what it takes to get this team into the dance and to let it do some damage when it gets there. Watch out for leading scorer F Alex Franklin, who has dropped 41 points in two games in this tourney.

William & Mary Tribe (22-9, Colonial): The Tribe had to be considered at-large bid contenders at one point, but now they know that they have to win this game, or it's off to the NIT. They've had two really close calls to get to this point, winning by a combined seven points in two CAA Tournament games, but at just 64.2 points per game allowed, this is a club that has what it takes to win a conference crown.

Old Dominion Monarchs (25-8, Colonial): ODU is almost certainly in the NCAA Tournament regardless of what goes on in this one, but much like the case was with Northern Iowa yesterday, you won't see this team want to slip up and lose its final tune-up before the real dance begins. Leading scorer F Gerald Lee dropped 26 points yesterday against VCU, but don't be surprised if he has weary legs on Monday. He and several of his teammates played 30+ minutes in a game that went to overtime just 24 hours before this one will tip off on Monday night.

St. Mary's Gaels (25-5, West Coast): Is the third time a charm? St. Mary's has already lost to Gonzaga twice this season, and the only way that it will absolutely be assured of a spot on the dance floor next week is to win this game. The Gaels have one of the most exciting offenses in college basketball at 79.4 points per game, but they've just be stymied time and time again by the Zags this season and in years past.

Gonzaga Bulldogs (26-5, West Coast): HC Mark Few's team knows that it's in fine shape regardless of the outcome of this one, but another WCC Championship sure would be nice. The Zags are also trying to show the Selection Committee that they really were the dominant team in this conference in spite of the fact that they suffered unsightly losses to San Francisco and Loyola-Marymount in the regular season.

Appalachian State Mountaineers (22-11, Southern): App State won the SoCon North Division and is rightfully playing for all the marbles on Monday night. The 'Neers have be dominant of late, posting three straight double-digit victories. G Donald Sims had posted five straight 20+ point performances and 25+ point efforts in four of his previous five before being held to just ten points against Charleston yesterday. He's averaging 20.4 PPG this year and will be a real force in the SoCon finale.

Wofford Terriers (25-8, Southern): The Terriers have also advanced to this point in the SoCon Tournament by recording two convincing double digit 'W's. Expect to see App State struggle offensively against a stout Wofford defense, which is holding foes to just 61.5 points per game this year. The Terriers will have their ears pinned back in this one, as its only home loss of the season came against these Mountaineers.

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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