Sunday, March 12, 2017

11-MAR Bracket Projection: The Fighting Hawks and Mustangs Make History

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.



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