Congratulations to (deep breath) Stony Brook, North Carolina, Kansas, Weber State, Hawaii, Middle Tennessee, Buffalo, Hampton, Fresno State, Oregon, Stephen F. Austin, Southern, and Cal State Bakersfield on their automatic bids to the NCAA tournament.
Most importantly, though, congratulations to Seton Hall on winning the Big East tournament for the first time since 1993 and making it to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006. Go make the Big East proud out there, guys.
We still have five more spots in the field to decide today, and hilariously, one game might not be over until after the NCAA selection show starts. The American Athletic Conference final between Memphis and Connecticut starts at 2:15pm Central, just two hours and 15 minutes before the selection show starts. If that game goes to overtime (and with Connecticut involved, anything is possible), it's probably going right past that window. It's going to be fascinating to watch CBS just kind of stand around for a while until they know which of the two contingency brackets they are supposed to use. Maybe don't move the time on the selection show after the season starts, guys?
On that topic, the NCAA selection show will start at 4:30pm Central and runs for TWO FULL HOURS. The press release from the NCAA announcing the new show length doesn't specifically say that they're going to introduce the bracket off the top of the show and then chat with all sorts of people after that. I think it's safe to say that between CBS and the NCAA, they'll be able to figure out that they will get excoriated all over the known sports landscape (and parts of the unknown landscape) if they announce one 16 team region and then spend 30 minutes interviewing coaches or players in that field before moving on to the next bunch.
Since this is a Marquette-centric blog, the NIT selection show will air on ESPNU at 7:30pm Central. Don't expect good news, though.
NCAA Automatic Bids: Austin Peay (OVC), Buffalo (MAC), Cal State Bakersfield (WAC), Chattanooga (SoCon), Fairleigh Dickinson (NEC), Florida Gulf Coast (Atlantic Sun), Fresno State (Mountain West), Gonzaga (WCC), Green Bay (Horizon League), Hampton (MEAC), Hawaii, (Big West), Holy Cross (Patriot League), Iona (MAAC), Kansas (Big 12), Middle Tennessee (Conference USA), North Carolina (ACC), UNC-Asheville (Big South), UNC-Wilmington (CAA), Northern Iowa (MVC), Oregon (Pac 12), Seton Hall (Big East), South Dakota State (Summit League), Stephen F. Austin (Southland), Stony Brook (America East), Weber State (Big Sky), Yale (Ivy)
NIT Automatic Bids: Belmont (OVC), Bucknell (Patriot League), High Point (Big South), IPFW (Summit League), New Mexico State (WAC), North Florida (Atlantic Sun), Texas Southern (SWAC), UAB (Conference USA), Wagner (NEC)
Regular Season Champs Forced To Wait: Akron (MAC), Hofstra (CAA), Monmouth (MAAC), Saint Mary's (WCC), San Diego State (MVC), Temple (AAC), Valparaiso (Horizon League), Wichita State (MVC)
Regular Season Champs That Are Safe: Dayton (Atlantic 10), Indiana (Big Ten), Villanova (Big East)
All times Central
AAC CHAMPIONSHIP (ESPN)
2:15pm: #5 Connecticut (23-10) vs #5 Memphis (19-14)
ATLANTIC 10 CHAMPIONSHIP (CBS)
11:30am: #2 VCU (24-9) vs #4 Saint Joseph's (26-7)
BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP (CBS)
2pm: #2 Michigan State (28-5) vs #4 Purdue (26-7)
SEC CHAMPIONSHIP (ESPN)
12pm: #1 Texas A&M (26-7) vs #2 Kentucky (25-8)
SUN BELT CHAMPIONSHIP (ESPN2)
12pm: #1 Little Rock (28-4) vs #2 Louisiana-Monroe (20-12)