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31. Big South: Liberty, just the second 20-loss team to make the field, lost to North Carolina A&T in the play-in game, 73-72. The Flames finished 15-21 on the season.
30. Northeast League: Their lone representative, LIU-Brooklyn, was bounced from the play-in game against James Madison by a score of 68-55.
29. Big Sky: The Orange defense embarrassed Montana by allowing just 34 points on 20 percent shooting. No Grizzlies player topped five points.
28: Mid-Eastern Athletic: The North Carolina A&T Aggies won their play-in game over Liberty but were promptly trounced by 31 points in their round of 64 game against Louisville.
27. Southland: Despite an impressive first half against Florida that saw Northwestern State trail 40-32, the Demons unraveled in the second and were blown out by the Gators by a final score of 79-47.
26. Mid-American: Akron got steamrolled by VCU’s havoc defense, as it turned the ball over 21 times. In its defense, the Zips were missing point guard Alex Abreu due to drug trafficking charges.
25. Horizon: Despite its exciting conference tournament run, Valparaiso was dominated by a physical Michigan State team in its round of 64 loss. The 65-54 final wasn’t indicative of how large the disparity between the two teams actually was.
24. Big West: The Pacific Tigers never had a chance against Miami, which racked up 78 points on 12-of-22 shooting from the three-point line. The loss snapped a seven-game winning streak heading into the tournament.
23. America East: The Great Danes didn’t get blown against a far larger Duke team, which pounded the ball inside to Mason Plumlee. In fact, Albany was only outscored 38-35 in the second half against the Blue Devils.
22. Colonial Athletic: Despite finishing fourth in the conference standings, James Madison got hot late in the season and reeled off five straight wins, including the play-in game win over LIU-Brooklyn. Unfortunately, the size and speed of Indiana was too much for the Dukes.
21. Metro Atlantic Athletic: The Buckeyes didn’t take Iona lightly, as they shouldn’t have because of their potentially explosive offense. Still, Gaels leading scorer Lamont Jones was limited to just nine points in the 95-70 loss. Iona finished 20-14 on the season.
20. Western Athletic: The New Mexico State Aggies were outclassed by a veteran Saint Louis team, which forced 16 turnovers. The Aggies have nothing to be ashamed about after a 14-4 conference record and 24 wins on the season.
19. Patriot League: It’s a shame the committee pitted conference winner Bucknell against Butler in the first round, but the Bison were a trendy upset pick, nonetheless. Tons of credit to big man Joe Willman, whose 20 points helped give the Bison the lead with around eight minutes remaining in the game. Unfortunately, Butler iced the game with solid free-throw shooting down the stretch.
18. Summit League: It was fun while it lasted, Nate. The Jackrabbits’ leading scorer struggled against a quicker Michigan team, and South Dakota State ultimately lost 71-56. The Jackrabbits finished the year with 25 wins. As for Wolters, his 22.7-point-per-game average has him on some NBA radars.
17. Ohio Valley: Belmont won its conference tournament with an overtime victory over Murray State but then had to wait 12 days until facing No. 6-seeded Arizona. The Bruins played at a quick pace, but their speed couldn’t compete with the Wildcats’ size. They were out-rebounded 42-15.
16. Southern: Oh, Davidson. Why couldn’t you just hold on to a seven-point lead with 1:33 remaining in your game against Marquette? Even if you earned just one win, it would’ve sparked memories of that oh-so-famous run in 2008. Alas, the Wildcats, champions of the Southern Conference, exited a bit too early.
15. Sun Belt: Western Kentucky wasn’t going to let Southern University run away with the “mid-major closest to upset a No. 1 seed” award. The Hilltoppers scared Kansas, badly. The Jayhawks were actually losing to WKU at halftime and were only up four with 30 seconds left. There are no moral victories, but for a team that went further than regular-season champion Middle Tennessee, a near-historic moment will have to suffice.
14. Southwestern Athletic: Speaking of the “mid-major closest to upsetting a No. 1 seed” award, the Southern Jaguars kicked off the tournament with a dangerously close upset over No. 1 seed Gonzaga. Not only did it re-affirm everyone’s belief that Gonzaga was vulnerable, but the Jaguars’ awesome (hideous?) jerseys got some prominent exposure.