Big day for some of the non-power schools.
North Dakota is dancing! They needed a pretty sizable comeback in the
final minute of regulation against Weber State, but they were able to pull that
off and seize control in the extra session to earn a bid to the tournament for
the first time ever. The recently named
Fighting Hawks joined Division I in 2008 and while it wasn’t quite Northern
Kentucky quick, that’s still a nice accomplishment to reach this goal so
quickly in their young history.
The Big West had its own
share of drama. In the last game of the
day, UC Davis knocked off #1 seeded UC Irvine to earn the Mustangs first trip
to the NCAA tournament. They will join
North Dakota, Jacksonville State and Northern Kentucky on the list of first
time schools earning the automatic berth.
Northwestern got steamrolled
by Wisconsin today, but it shouldn’t matter, at least in regards to inclusion
in the field. They should be our 5th
rookie in the field.
New Orleans earned their
fifth tournament appearance, but more notably it is the Privateers first
tournament appearance since 1996. UNO
dispatched Texas A&M Corpus Christi in the Southland final. There are a couple other droughts that could
end tomorrow. The Sun Belt final will
feature Texas State (no appearances since 1997) and Troy (their only trip was
in 2003). Rhode Island will also get a
chance to return to the field for the first time since 1999. Of course, they are in play for an at large
as well, but a loss tomorrow could be the death knell.
My latest bracket has no changes
to any of the at large bids from my previous projection. Automatic bids were swapped in the cases of
New Orleans (formerly Texas A&M CC), UC Davis (UC Irvine), Kent State (Akron),
and Texas State (Texas Arlington). Kansas State is the last team in the field.