NCAA tourney tracker: Four more bids will be handed out Monday
Here is Monday’s version of our daily NCAA tournament tracker/bubble watch.
Four more teams will play their way into the field of 68 in tourney finals Monday night.
Of note Sunday is that Creighton garnered the Missouri Valley’s automatic bid by beating Illinois State in overtime. Creighton was an NCAA lock regardless, so Illinois State’s loss meant bubble teams everywhere breathed a huge sigh of relief because the Redbirds didn’t get a bid.
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Michigan State’s hopes of a NCAA No. 1 seed took a big hit when the Spartans fell at home to Ohio State. Michigan State now is on the outside looking in at the other potential No. 1 seeds. To have a shot at a No. 1, Michigan State likely needs to win the Big Ten tourney and have North Carolina lose in the ACC tourney.
California was another team that hurt itself Sunday. A shared Pac-12 title was there for the taking but the Golden Bears fell at archrival Stanford, which means Washington won the undisputed league crown. Cal’s at-large hopes also took a big hit; the Golden Bears almost certainly need to win at least once and maybe twice in the Pac-12 tourney to have a shot now.
Two No. 1 seeds from one-bid leagues suffered losses Sunday. Iona fell in the semifinals of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament, while Middle Tennessee was stunned in the Sun Belt tourney. MTSU received a first-round bye and fell in the second round to ninth-seeded Arkansas State. Iona and Middle now can start making NIT plans.
We’ll continue our tracker through the final days of the conference tournaments. We’ll also update as needed the “NCAA locks.”
All RPI figures come from collegerpi.com.
NCAA tourney locks (51)
(teams listed alphabetically by league; asterisked teams already have earned an automatic bid)
ACC (4): Duke, Florida State, North Carolina, Virginia
Atlantic Sun (1): Belmont*
Atlantic 10 (2): Saint Louis, Temple
Big East (6): Cincinnati, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Syracuse
Big South (1): UNC Asheville*
Big Ten (6): Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin
Big 12 (5): Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Missouri
Missouri Valley (2): Creighton*, Wichita State
Mountain West (3): New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV
Ohio Valley (1): Murray State*
SEC (3): Florida, Kentucky, Vanderbilt
West Coast (3): BYU, Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s
One-bid leagues regardless (14): America East, Big Sky, Horizon, Metro Atlantic Athletic, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern Athletic, Northeast, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Southwestern Athletic, Summit, Sun Belt, Western Athletic.
Monday’s game of the day
Drexel vs. VCU in Richmond, Va., 7 p.m., ESPN: This is the CAA tourney final, and while the winner receives the league’s automatic bid, the loser can make a case for an at-large. But an at-large invitation is far from a certainty, so this should be extremely intense. Drexel is seeded first, VCU second. Drexel won the lone regular-season meeting between the teams, by six at home. The Dragons have won 19 in a row; VCU has won 16 of its past 17. Drexel is looking for its first NCAA bid since 1996, when a Malik Rose-led team upset Memphis in the first round as a No. 12 seed. That Dragons team was coached by Bill Herrion, who now is coach at New Hampshire. VCU went to the Final Four last season as a No. 11 seed and is looking for its fifth bid in nine seasons.
Other games of interest
Fairfield vs. Loyola (Md.) in Springfield, Mass., 7 p.m., ESPN2: This is the Metro Atlantic Athletic tourney final between second-seeded Loyola and the fourth-seeded Stags, who shocked top-seeded Iona in the semifinals. Fairfield was considered a prime contender for the league title in the preseason but played poorly until February; the Stags go into this game having won nine of 12. The teams split the season series, with each winning on the road. Loyola is seeking its first NCAA bid since 1994, Fairfield its first since 1997.
Gonzaga vs. Saint Mary’s in Las Vegas, 9 p.m., ESPN: This is the West Coast Conference tourney final. Saint Mary’s is seeded first, Gonzaga second. Both are NCAA locks. They split the regular-season series, with each winning at home.
Davidson vs. Western Carolina in Asheville, N.C., 9 p.m., ESPN2: The Southern Conference seeds its field differently than every other league, doing it by divisions. While Davidson was the overall league champ and is seeded first, Western Carolina finished third in the North Division. Western is 17-17 overall and upset North champ UNC Greensboro in a semifinal. The teams played once in the regular season, with Davidson winning by 18 at home. It would be a stunner if Davidson were to lose. The Wildcats are looking for their first NCAA bid since 2008, when Stephen Curry led them to the Elite Eight. The three wins that season were the school’s first in the NCAA tourney since a Lefty Driesell-coached team fell in the 1969 East Regional final to North Carolina.
Conference tourneys: One other No. 1 seed will be in action Monday. Oral Roberts meets fourth-seeded Western Illinois in a Summit League semifinal in Sioux Falls, S.D. ORU swept the season series, winning by 10 at home and by one in double-overtime at WIU.
Ohio State 72, Michigan State 70: The Buckeyes rallied from 15 down and won it on a jumper with 0.8 seconds left. The result, coupled with Michigan’s win at Penn State, means there is a three-way tie for the Big Ten title among the Spartans, Buckeyes and Wolverines. Michigan State will be seeded first in the Big Ten tourney, with Michigan second and the Buckeyes third. In addition to losing out on an undisputed league championship, Michigan State’s hopes for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney took a huge hit.
Kentucky 74, Florida 59: Kentucky capped off a perfect SEC regular season with the victory in Gainesville. UK went 16-0 and became just the third team in 56 years to go unbeaten in SEC action. UK’s win means there is a three-way tie for second in the SEC among Florida, Vanderbilt and Tennessee. The Vols will be the No. 2 seed, and the sliding Gators will be No. 4.
Florida State 80, Clemson 72: This was all about avoiding a bad loss for FSU, which already had locked up a third-place finish in the ACC.
Michigan 71, Penn State 65: The Wolverines held off the host Nittany Lions and finished in a three-way tie for first in the Big Ten with Michigan State and Ohio State.
Virginia 75, Maryland 72 (OT): Virginia finished tied for fourth in the ACC, thanks to this win. The Cavs improved to 9-5 away from home.
Creighton 83, Illinois State 79 (OT): The Bluejays made bubble teams happy with the win in the Missouri Valley tourney final. Creighton was an NCAA lock regardless, while a Redbirds win would’ve “stolen” a bid from a bubble team.
Drexel 68, Old Dominion 51: Top-seeded Drexel dominated the fourth-seeded Monarchs to move to the Colonial Athletic Association tourney final in Richmond, Va. Drexel needed to get to the final to make a case it deserved an at-large bid.
VCU 74, George Mason 64: The second-seeded Rams held on to beat third-seeded George Mason in the other CAA semifinal. As with Drexel, VCU had a shot at an at-large bid only if it advanced to the CAA final.
Stanford 75, California 70: A victory meant California would’ve shared the Pac-12 regular-season title with Washington. Instead, Cal finished tied for second with Oregon and saw its NCAA at-large hopes take a huge hit.
Conference tourneys: Five other No. 1 seeds were in action Sunday. Stony Brook edged fourth-seeded Albany 57-55 in an America East semifinal in Hartford, Conn. Iona was stunned 85-75 by fourth-seeded Fairfield in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference semifinal in Hartford, Conn. Iona, which had won the MAAC regular-season title by two games, swept Fairfield in the regular season but was dominated in the second half by the Stags. Host Long Island outlasted fifth-seeded Quinnipiac 78-75 in a Northeast semifinal. Davidson defeated fourth-seeded Elon 82-67 in a Southern Conference semifinal in Asheville, N.C. Middle Tennessee State was shocked 64-61 by ninth-seeded Arkansas State in a Sun Belt quarterfinal in Hot Springs, Ark. MTSU had won the regular-season title by two games and finished eight games ahead of Arkansas State, which had lost 10 of 14 heading into the tourney.
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