The NCAA Tournament picture is getting clearer but it is also more complicated. Jacksonville State, Florida Gulf Coast, Wichita State and Winthrop all won their conference tournaments to punch a ticket to the Big Dance.
Wichita State’s victory is particularly intriguing given they were on the bubble heading into their conference tournament. The Shockers had a chance to make the NCAA Tournament without a conference championship but their victory cemented their status. Things are more complicated for many of the teams in the bigger conferences who will be fighting for an at-large birth.
The loss of Illinois State could open up another spot for another team in the tournament depending on where you had Wichita State seeded before their conference tournament.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has the following bubble teams (with seed) in the tournament: Nevada (12), Vanderbilt (11), Providence (10), Middle Tennessee (11), Seton Hall (10), Northwestern (9), USC (12), Xavier (12), Illinois State (11), Wake Forest (11), Marquette (10), UT Arlington (12), Michigan State (10), Syracuse (11) and Arkansas (9).
CBS’s Jerry Palm has Wake Forest, Kansas State, Cal and Rhode Island as the last four teams in the tournament. Palm has Illinois, Vanderbilt, Syracuse and Illinois State outside the tournament as the first four out. Here is a rundown of Palm’s bubble teams currently making the tournament: Wake Forest (11), Kansas State (11), Cal (12), Rhode Island (12), Nevada (12), Michigan State (10), Xavier (11), Marquette (10), VCU (9), Providence (10), Middle Tennessee (11) and Arkansas (10).
USA Today has Illinois, Wake Forest, Syracuse and USC as their last four teams to make the tournament. Iowa, Georgia, Illinois State and Rhode Island are all on the outside looking in.
Here’s a look at the USA Today’s bubble teams making the tournament: Northwestern (9), Marquette (8), UT Arlington (12), Nevada (12), Middle Tennessee (11), Wake Forest (11), Providence (10), VCU (10), Michigan State (8), Arkansas (9), Syracuse (12), Illinois (12), Xavier (11), USC (11), Vanderbilt (10) and Seton Hall (10).
Three more teams clinch automatic bids today as the SoCon, MAAC and CAA all have conference championship games. Follow Heavy’s running tally of tournament teams here. Major conferences will begin their tournaments starting tomorrow with the ACC. Wednesday the Pac-12, Big Ten and Big 12 will all begin tournament play.