Three more automatic bids were confirmed tonight. Iona, East Tennessee State, and UNC Wilmington all join the fray. Only UNC Wilmington was a one seed of the trio, bringing our total of the seven earned so far to 3 Consensus (Regular season champion, #1 seed, and tournament champion), 3 Bid Stealers (#4 Jax St, #3 Iona, and #3 ETSU), and Wichita State who will probably be seeded high enough to have earned an at large bid.
Tomorrow’s schedule will have four finals. The Horizon continued to surprise and Northern Kentucky is the only better seed to hold serve. The #4 Norse will be looking for their first tournament appearance as they take on #10 Milwaukee. A win for the Panthers would give them their 5th NCAA appearance, all since 2003, but would be just their second since 2007.
Another fun tournament this year, the Northeast Conference will return with their Championship tomorrow. St. Francis will be looking for just their second ever automatic berth, with their lone coming in 1991. They’ll need to do in on the road in Emmitsburg with the Mount and Mayhem looking for their fifth NCAA trip, which would be their second under Jamion Christian.
Out in the badlands, the Summit Final is on Tuesday, and the Mavericks will be looking to make history for the first time. To be successful, they’ll need to slow down Mike Daum and the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. SDSU will be after their fourth appearance (2012/2013/2016), and their first since Scott Nagy moved on and TJ Otzelberger took the reins.
A quick Futility reminder since we mentioned the Norse and Mavericks title games. We began the season with 48 schools on the never been list. Jacksonville State is in. Northwestern seems safe. 32 teams have already dropped their conference tournament game.
The West Coast will crown a champion tomorrow night as well between Gonzaga and St Mary’s/BYU.
New tournament blood tomorrow! The SWAC has four quarterfinals at higher seeds. Grambling State will travel to Prairie View for their first step to their first NCAA. The ACC and Big Sky will start off with three games each. North Dakota is the #1 seed in the Big Sky and looking for their first trip.
In the ACC, Virginia Tech has the longest NCAA drought with their last one coming in 2007. I have them in for now, although that potential match-up with Wake Forest on day two could make things interesting. Georgia Tech and Clemson each currently on the outside looking in begin their last ditch efforts to strengthen their resumes. The Jackets and ACC Coach of the Year Josh Pastner will take on a Pitt team that may be ready to mail 2017 in. Clemson could be looking to save Brad Brownell’s job against a coach who already lost his in our first game of the day.