In their first year of true eligibility, Northern Kentucky and its 293rd ranked experience on kenpom will finally realize what it means to be an underdog. The Norse knocked out the #10 seed Milwaukee Panthers in Detroit earning the Horizon’s automatic bid. I have them slated as a #15 seed, thus avoiding Dayton, which would guarantee for the first time this post-season they will be on the wrong end of seed expectation. In this year’s bizarre post season run, the #4 NKU had to go through the #5, #9 and #10 seeds.
The Omaha Mavericks were not so fortunate. They ran into a monster stat-line from Mike Daum and South Dakota State, falling two points shy of their first ever NCAA tournament. The loss means that of the 48 futility schools, 33 have now been knocked out of their conference tournaments. Two (Jacksonville State and Northern Kentucky) have secured a bid, and Northwestern is likely for an at large. The remaining twelve still have plenty of work to do.
The Mount held homecourt in the NEC and knocked off St Francis to lock up that automatic berth. Finally out in the desert, the Zags held off a few Saint Mary’s charges to lock up the WCC title.
Eleven automatic bids have now been secured. Five bids were “stolen” by lower seeds as we add NKU and SD St to that list. Four were consensus champions with the Mount St. Mary’s win. The Final two were won by teams that would likely have been at-large bids even with a loss (Wichita State and now Gonzaga).
Only one title game scheduled for tomorrow night. The Patriot League’s bid will be up for grabs when #3 Lehigh goes into Lewisburg to take on #1 Bucknell. The real story of Wednesday is the litany of tournaments starting up. Conference USA, Sun Belt, Mountain West, PAC-12, Big Ten, Atlantic 10, Southland, Big XII, SEC, and the Big East all get underway. The only school on the never been list in that group is Central Arkansas. They’ll take the court in Katy to go up against the Bearkats of Sam Houston State in the earlier of two first round Southland games.
Only minor updates to my bracket with the light basketball day. Swapped out the Summit representative to include South Dakota State. Also swapped out USC for Xavier as yesterday’s results added a little bit of RPI separation between those two teams, although the margin is still quite small.
My last four teams that are in action tomorrow: Xavier (vs DePaul).
My first four out teams that are in action tomorrow: USC (vs Fultz-less Washington)
My next four out teams that are in action tomorrow: None.