NCAA Tournament 2013: Conference Champion and Automatic Bid Tracker

Avi Wolfman-Arent@@awolfmancomethCorrespondent IIMarch 10, 2013

NCAA Tournament 2013: Conference Champion and Automatic Bid Tracker

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    They come from every corner of these United States—small schools, big schools, blue-bloods and upstarts.

    All for a chance to dance.

    In the zero-sum game that is college basketball's conference championship week, nothing less will do. It's NCAA tournament or bust.

    In the slides ahead, you'll find real-time info on each of the 30 Division I conference tournaments, with winners listed, feted and dissected for all your Madness needs.

    Note: All tempo-free statistics courtesy of unless otherwise noted.

Conference Tournament Schedule and Results

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    Below you'll find the scheduled time of every conference championship game. When each contest is finalized , we'll update with the result.

    The slides ahead include info and analysis for each conference champion. The most recent qualifiers are listed first.

    All times are ET.

    Saturday, March 9

    Atlantic Sun: Florida Gulf Coast def. Mercer, 88-75

    Ohio Valley: Belmont def. Murray State, 70-68 OT 

    Sunday, March 10

    Big South: Liberty def. Charleston Southern, 87-76

    Missouri Valley: Creighton def. Wichita State, 68-65

    Monday, March 11

    Colonial: James Madison def. Northeastern, 70-57

    Southern: Davidson def. Charleston, 74-55

    MAAC: Iona def. Manhattan, 60-57

    Sun Belt: Western Kentucky def. Florida International, 65-63

    West Coast: Gonzaga def. St. Mary's, 65-51

    Tuesday, March 12

    Northeast: LIU Brooklyn def. Mount St. Mary's, 91-70

    Horizon: Valparaiso def. Wright State, 62-54

    Summit: South Dakota State def. North Dakota State, 73-67

    Wednesday, March 13

    Patriot: Bucknell def. Lafayette, 64-56

    Saturday, March 16

    America East: Albany def. Vermont, 53-49

    Conference USA: Memphis def. Southern Miss, 91-79 (double overtime)

    SWAC: Southern def. Prairie View A&M, 45-44

    MEAC: North Carolina A&T def. Morgan State, 57-54

    Mountain West: New Mexico def. UNLV, 63-56

    Big 12: Kansas def. Kansas State, 70-54

    MAC: Akron def. Ohio, 65-46

    Southland: Northwestern State def. Stephen F. Austin, 68-66

    Big East: Louisville def. Syracuse, 78-61

    Big Sky: Montana def. Weber State, 67-64

    Big West: Pacific def. UC Irvine, 64-55

    Pac-12: Oregon def. UCLA, 78-69

    WAC: New Mexico State def. Texas-Arlington, 64-55

    Sunday, March 17

    ACC: Miami def. North Carolina, 87-77

    Atlantic 10: St Louis def. VCU, 62-56

    SEC: Ole Miss def. Florida, 66-63

    Big 10: Ohio State def. Wisconsin 50-43

    Note: Ivy League awards automatic bid to regular-season champion.

Ohio State: 2013 Big Ten Conference Champion

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    Big Ten Title Game Recap

    In a game that could only be described as "Big Tennish," it was exciting from start to finish even though neither team scored 50 points until the final minute. Ohio State prevailed 50-43 behind a ho-hum 17 points and seven rebounds from Deshaun Thomas.

    Season in Review

    The Buckeyes finished in second-place in the best conference in the country, defeating every team in the conference at least once throughout the course of the season. They had just one nonconference win against the RPI Top 100, but you have to think they'll be adding to that number soon.

    NCAA Tournament Projection

    They've won eight consecutive games and could conceivably win another six more en route to a national championship.

    March Madness Fact

    The Buckeyes have won at least two games in four of their last five trips to the NCAA tournament.

Saint Louis: 2013 Atlantic 10 Conference Champion

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    A-10 Title Game Recap

    Despite 17 turnovers against VCU's heralded "Havoc" defense, Kwamain Mitchell (19 points) and the Billikens kept the Rams in check by forcing them to play in a traditional half-court offense as much as possible. Unable to run like the wind, VCU was held way below its scoring average in a 62-56 win for Saint Louis.

    Season in Review

    They started out slow, dropping to 3-3 on the season after a November 29 loss to Washington. However, they were without Mitchell, who was recovering from off-season surgery. Since that loss, the Billikens are 24-3 with a 5-0 record against Butler and VCU.

    NCAA Tournament Projection

    The sleeper effect has worn off a bit with their continued success on a national level, but this team is a legitimate threat to get to the Final Four.

    March Madness Fact

    The best seed the Billikens have ever received in the NCAA tournament is a No. 7 seed. Safe to say they'll do better than that on Sunday night.

Ole Miss: 2013 Southeastern Conference Champion

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    SEC Title Game Recap

    Marshall Henderson and Murphy Holloway lead the way for the Rebels, each scoring more than 20 points against the Florida Gators. When Kenny Boynton's desperation three clanked off the rim, Ole Miss was finally, mercifully removed from the bubble with a 66-63 win.

    Season in Review

    This wasn't quite a case of a sub-.500 team winning the SEC tournament like Georgia did in 2008, but it was certainly a surprise. Ole Miss started the season 17-2, but mostly by virtue of an incredibly weak schedule. The Rebels won just one regular-season game against the RPI Top 50, but picked up two more when they mattered most.

    NCAA Tournament Projection

    You'll have to talk to Marshall Henderson about that one. They're pretty tough to beat when he's hitting some of the 11 three-pointers he attempts per game. Getting to the Sweet 16 wouldn't be a complete shock.

    March Madness Fact

    This is the first trip to the tournament for the Rebels in 11 years, in which they lost to UCLA by 22 points. There's a chance they could meet again in the first round this year.

Miami: 2013 Atlantic Coast Conference Champion

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    ACC Title Game Recap

    North Carolina hit 12 of its first 21 three-point attempts, but Miami responded by doing the same. Behind Shane Larkin's 28 points and a double-double from Julian Gamble, the Hurricanes stormed back to a convincing 87-77 victory.

    Season in Review

    The Hurricanes started the year with a discouraging loss to Florida Gulf Coast, but in that game were without last year's leading scorer—Durand Scott. They went 6-1 against the power schools from North Carolina that everyone was expecting to finish in the top three.

    NCAA Tournament Projection

    With their stellar guard play and big man Kenny Kadji, the Hurricanes could win it all.

    March Madness Fact

    The Hurricanes have won just one NCAA tournament game in the past 13 years. No one on this roster has been to the tournament before.

New Mexico State: 2013 Western Athletic Conference Champion

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    WAC Title Game Recap

    New Mexico State beat UT-Arlington, 64-55, to win the WAC tournament title. Sim Bhullar, a 7’5” freshman, scored 16 points and grabbed 15 boards to lead New Mexico State. The Aggies outrebounded the Mavericks 41-25.

    Season in Review

    New Mexico State started off the conference season 0-2 but has won 18 of its last 20 games. The Aggies are playing well, but their best wins have all come at home. They have not beaten a team in the RPI top 150 outside of Las Cruces, according to

    NCAA Tournament Projection

    New Mexico State is playing well and could maybe pull an upset with a favorable matchup. The Aggies are not a serious threat to win more than one game.

    March Madness Fact

    New Mexico State is in the NCAA tournament for the third time in the last four years. The Aggies lost to No. 5-seed Michigan State, 70-67, in 2010 and to No. 4-seed Indiana, 79-66, last year.

Oregon: 2013 Pac-12 Champion

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    Pac-12 Title Game Recap

    Oregon got off to a slow start, scoring just four points in the first seven minutes, but recovered to beat UCLA, 78-69, in the Pac-12 title game. Carlos Emory had 20 points to lead the Ducks, which won their first conference title since 2007. UCLA, playing for the first time without injured freshman Jordan Adams, had all five starters score in double figures.

    Season in Review

    Oregon began the season 17-2 before point guard Dominic Artis went down with a foot injury. Artis missed nine games, and the Ducks went 5-4 in that stretch. Since his return, Oregon is 4-2 with ugly losses at Colorado and Utah.

    NCAA Tournament Projection

    With Artis still not in early-season form, it’s tough to see Oregon making too much noise in the NCAA tournament. The Ducks might win a game, but they would need some good fortune to make the second weekend.

    March Madness Fact

    Oregon is going back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008. It will be Dana Altman’s ninth trip to the Big Dance and his first with Oregon. He has a career record of 2-8 in the NCAA tournament and has never made it to the second weekend.

Pacific: 2013 Big West Champion

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    Big West Title Game Recap

    Pacific jumped out to a 31-20 halftime lead and never trailed in the second half to beat UC Irvine, 64-55, in the Big West title game. Tony Gill had 19 points for the Tigers, and Pacific held the Anteaters to 35.8 percent shooting.

    Season in Review

    Pacific is peaking at the right time, winning its last seven games heading into the NCAA tournament. The Tigers are 22-12 and have neutral court wins over Saint Mary’s and Xavier.

    NCAA Tournament Projection

    Pacific is a team to keep an eye on. While it isn’t likely the Tigers will pull an upset, they are shooting 38.6 percent from three. If they get hot from deep, they could bring about an early scare for a heavy favorite in the round of 64.

    March Madness Fact

    This is the first time Pacific has been to the NCAA tournament since three straight trips to the Big Dance from 2004-06. The Tigers beat Providence in 2004 and Pittsburgh in 2005.

Montana: 2013 Big Sky Champion

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    Big Sky Title Game Recap

    Montana beat Weber State, 67-64, to win its third Big Sky title in the last four years. Will Cherry had 18 points, including five in the final minute, to lead the Grizzlies. It was Weber State’s first loss in 14 games since Jan. 26, its last trip to Montana.

    Season in Review

    Montana rolled through the Big Sky, losing just once in 22 games but didn’t accomplish much in the nonconference portion of is schedule. The Grizzlies have won six in a row with their last loss coming at Davidson, 93-87, in overtime on Feb. 23.

    NCAA Tournament Projection

    The Grizzlies only have four wins over teams ranked in the RPI top 200, according to They should not pose a serious threat to pull an upset in the round of 64.

    March Madness Fact

    Montana has reached the NCAA tournament eight times since 1991. The lone win the Grizzlies picked up came in 2006 when they upset No. 5-seed Nevada, 87-79.

Louisville: 2013 Big East Champion

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    Big East Title Game Recap

    Louisville overcame a 16-point second half deficit to beat Syracuse, 78-61, in the Big East title game. Louisville outscored Syracuse 49-16 over the final 15:34, giving the Orange a stunning defeat in their last Big East tournament game before moving to the ACC. Freshman Montrezl Harrell led the Cardinals with 20 points off the bench.

    Season in Review

    Since losing three in a row in January, Louisville has won 13 of its last 14 games with the lone defeat coming in the five-overtime thriller at Notre Dame. The Cardinals have fulfilled their preseason expectations and are playing their best basketball at the right time.

    NCAA Tournament Projection

    Louisville heads into the NCAA tournament as one of the favorites to cut down the nets in Atlanta. Anything less than a Final Four run would be a major disappointment for Rick Pitino’s team.

    March Madness Fact

    The last three Big East tournament winners have made the Final Four, including Louisville last year. However, the last time that a team not named Connecticut won a national title after winning the Big East tournament was Georgetown in 1984.

Northwestern State: 2013 Southland Conference Champion

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    Southland Title Game Recap

    Northwestern State held off Stephen F. Austin, 68-66, to win the Southland Conference title. The Demons led for the final 18:56 but needed a steal with under five seconds left to seal the victory. Shamir Davis had 19 points to lead Northwestern State.

    Season in Review

    Northwestern State is 23-8 this season with its best win coming over Louisiana Tech, 89-83, on Dec. 4. The Demons have played some power-conference teams tough, losing at Oklahoma by four and at LSU by seven. Northwestern State leads the nation with 81.5 points per game.

    NCAA Tournament Projection

    Don’t overlook the possibility of Northwestern State pulling a March Madness shocker in the round of 64. The Demons have a coach in Mike McConathy who has experienced some success in the NCAA tournament, going 2-2 in his two trips to the Big Dance with the Demons.

    March Madness Fact

    Northwestern State has won a game in both of its previous NCAA tournament appearances. The Demons were the winners of the very first Opening Round game back in 2001 when the field expanded to 65 teams, beating Winthrop, 71-67. Northwestern State upset No. 3-seed Iowa in 2006, 64-63. 

Akron: 2013 Mid-American Conference Champion

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    MAC Title Game Recap

    Akron met Ohio in the MAC title game for the third time in four years Saturday. The Zips trailed the Bobcats by three at halftime, but Akron outscored Ohio 39-17 in the second half to pull away for a 65-46 win.

    Akron held MAC Player of the Year D.J. Cooper to three points on 0-of-9 shooting and forced him into five turnovers. Demetrius Treadwell had 13 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Zips.

    Season in Review

    The Zips were rolling, heading into March with a 19-game winning streak. Then, news came that point guard Alex Abreu was arrested on drug charges on March 7. He was suspended indefinitely and has missed Akron’s final three games.

    NCAA Tournament Projection

    Akron could have been a popular pick to make some noise during March Madness, but that changed with Abreu’s suspension. The Zips could pull an upset with a favorable matchup in the round of 64, but they probably don’t pose a serious threat to make the second weekend.

    March Madness Fact

    Akron is making just its fourth trip to the NCAA tournament and will be looking for its first ever NCAA tournament victory. The Zips last made the Big Dance in 2011 as a No. 15 seed, losing 69-56 to Notre Dame.

New Mexico: 2013 Mountain West Conference Champion

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    MWC Title Game Recap

    New Mexico hit 9-of-19 shot attempts from beyond the three-point arc, producing enough offense to outlast UNLV, 63-56. Lobos guard Tony Snell led all scorers with 21 points.

    Season in Review

    New Mexico continues a strong season, highlighted by a 4-0 record against nationally ranked opponents. The Lobos haven't lost consecutive games during the 2012-13 campaign.

    NCAA Tournament Projection

    The Lobos don't lack for experience. A veteran-laden lineup continues to cruise against quality opponents, and the team's consistency puts New Mexico in position for an excellent seed in the NCAA tourney. This squad is capable of pulling off an upset or two and crashing the Elite Eight party.

    March Madness Fact

    After qualifying for just one NCAA tournament between 2000-2009 (2005), the Lobos are headed to the tourney for the third time since 2010. 

Kansas: 2013 Big 12 Champion

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    Big 12 Title Game Recap

    Kansas outclassed longtime rival Kansas State, 70-54. The Jayhawks limited Kansas State to 16 first-half points and led comfortably throughout the second half, claiming the sixth Big 12 title of Bill Self's 10-season tenure.

    Season in Review

    Kansas stumbled in early February, falling to three straight conference opponents. The Jayhawks responded by winning 10 of 11 games en route to another Big 12 title. 

    NCAA Tournament Projection

    In Self's nine previous NCAA tourney appearances, Kansas reached at least the Elite Eight on six occasions. The Jayhawks have depth that rivals any team in the country and should be considered a favorite to advance all the way to Atlanta, home of the 2013 Final Four.

    March Madness Fact

    James Naismith invented the sport and took over as the team's first head coach. The program proceeded to become one of America's most successful postseason squads. Kansas currently owns the land's longest NCAA tournament streak, and Sunday's selection will make it 24 straight appearances.

North Carolina State A&T: 2013 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Champion

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    MEAC Title Game Recap

    The second half opened with a tie on the scoreboard, and things stayed close until the final horn. The Aggies edged Morgan State, 57-54, in the program's first conference finals appearance since 1997.

    Season in Review

    North Carolina A&T struggled mightily in the season's early stages. The Aggies sat at 5-9 on New Year's Day and began March under .500. Two weeks later, six wins in seven games have the squad headed to the Big Dance.

    NCAA Tournament Projection

    The Aggies faced just one nationally ranked opponent all season and boy was it ugly. Cincinnati steamrolled North Carolina A&T 93-39 in November. If that's any indication of this team's ability to match up with the major programs, a first-round victory is out of the question.

    March Madness Fact

    The Aggies haven't made an NCAA tourney appearance since 1995, when many of its current players were still wearing diapers.

Southern: 2013 Southwestern Athletic Conference Champion

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    SWAC Title Game Recap

    The Jaguars edged Prairie View A&M, 45-44, in the championship. Neither team was able to gain much separation throughout the low-scoring contest. Senior Derick Beltran was the only Southern player to tally more than eight points (13 total).

    Season in Review

    Southern is 9-2 since February rolled around. Prior to the title game, the Jaguars were pummeling SWAC teams, collecting four straight double-digit wins. Southern overcame a 1-5 start to the season.

    NCAA Tournament Projection

    Beltran and junior guard Malcolm Miller produce at a quality level, each averaging about 16 points per game. Southern's lack of depth beyond those two doesn't bode well for tourney title dreams. Consider the Jags an extreme dark horse.

    March Madness Fact

    This is just the Jaguars' second NCAA tournament since 1993, when Southern registered its only tourney victory in program history.

Memphis: 2013 Conference USA Champion

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    Conference USA Title Game Recap

    Memphis completed a perfect conference season with a  91-79  win that required a pair of extra sessions against Southern Miss. The Tigers attacked from all angles offensively, as five players tallied double-digit scoring outputs. Memphis surrendered a seven-point lead with 41 seconds remaining in regulation but rebounded to turn away the Golden Eagles in double overtime.

    Season in Review

    Memphis surged to No. 20 in the national AP Poll with a commanding second half of the season. The Tigers have now won 24 of their last 25 contests. 

    NCAA Tournament Projection

    Junior guard Joe Jackson, a 47-percent three-point shooter, is the top target among a group of dangerous perimeter players. Memphis has the makings of a Sweet 16 team if it can avoid prolonged shooting droughts. 

    March Madness Fact

    Memphis makes its way into the NCAA tournament for the seventh time in eight years. The Tigers fell in the first round in both 2011 and 2012.

Albany: 2013 America East Conference Champion

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    America East Title Game Recap

    Albany avenged a pair of regular-season losses to Vermont, overcoming the Catamounts in a tightly contested title showdown. The Great Danes limited Vermont to 1-of-14 shooting from three-point territory en route to a 53-49 victory

    Season in Review

    Albany has avoided consecutive defeats since suffering three straight losses in January. The team has a flair for the dramatic, winning its three conference tournament games by a total of seven points.

    NCAA Tournament Projection

    A veteran squad is spearheaded by guard Mike Black, who leads Albany in scoring. The Great Danes' biggest accomplishment is winning a tournament title. Any more wins in March would be icing on the cake.

    March Madness Fact

    This is Albany's first NCAA tournament appearance since reaching the Big Dance two years in a row (2006 and 2007). 

Bucknell: 2013 Patriot League Champion

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    Patriot League Title Game Recap

    Bucknell built an eight-point lead at halftime against Lafayette. Bison big men Mike Muscula and Joe Wilman combined for 34 in a 64-56 victory.

    Season in Review

    Bucknell has reeled off seven straight wins. The Bison have suffered just two losses since Jan. 5.

    NCAA Tournament Projection

    Bucknell has a strong frontcourt and can contend with quality opponents by battling for boards. The team isn't deep along the perimeter, so it could be a challenge to keep things close against an opponent with elite guards. 

    The Bison figure to warrant a mid-level seed in the NCAA tournament.

    March Madness Fact

    Bucknell breaks through to the Big Dance for the first time since 2011. The Bison last won a tourney game in 2006, against Arkansas

Valparaiso: 2013 Horizon League Champion

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    Horizon League Title Game Recap

    Valparaiso lost in the Horizon League championship last season but finished the task Tuesday night with a 62-54 victory over Wright State. The Crusaders shot 54 percent from the floor, led by Erik Buggs' 22 points.

    Season in Review

    Valparaiso has won 10 of 11 contests, while suffering just three losses in 2013. Rangy senior forward Ryan Broekhoff, the team's leading scorer, tends to bomb shots from three-point territory.

    NCAA Tournament Projection

    The Horizon League schedule doesn't exactly tune teams up for the rigors of an NCAA tournament run, but the Crusaders are playing quality basketball and won't make it easy on whichever highly ranked opponent the team plays in the opening round.

    March Madness Fact

    Head coach Bryce Drew makes his first tournament appearance on the sidelines but he already carries plenty of tournament clout. He's known for hitting a buzzer-beating shot in the 1998 NCAA Tournament, pushing underdog Valparaiso past Ole Miss.

South Dakota State: 2013 Summit League Champion

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    Summit League Title Game Recap

    South Dakota State survived a showdown with Summit League rival North Dakota State. The Jackrabbits dropped 44 points in the second half to to beat the Bison, 73-67.

    Season in Review

    The Jackrabbits finished 13-3 in league play and enter the NCAA tournament on a four-game win streak. A midseason eight-game win streak put South Dakota in position for a top seed in their conference tourney.

    NCAA Tournament Projection

    Led by high-scoring senior guard Nate Wolters, South Dakota State can put up points in bunches. The team excels from beyond the three-point arc, shooting nearly 40 percent as a group.

    March Madness Fact

    The Jackrabbits return to the NCAA tournament for the second straight season. Last year was the team's first appearance.

LIU Brooklyn: 2013 NEC Champion

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    NEC Title Game Recap

    Long Island University-Brooklyn took command of the championship game early in the second half and never let up on the way to a 91-70 victory over Mount St. Mary's. Guard C.J. Garner led the Blackbirds with 31 points.

    Season in Review

    LIU is largely built around a strong offense. The Blackbirds rank sixth in the nation with approximately 80 points per game. The team surpassed 90 points in its last four games, including the conference championship.

    NCAA Tournament Projection

    Garner is a dangerous playmaker. He scored 30 or more points in the three of the Blackbirds' last four games. Jamal Olasewere is a reliable senior forward, who led the team in regular-season scoring.

    The Blackbirds are capable of burying a team in field goals and escaping the opening round of tournament action.

    March Madness Fact

    LIU is 0-for-5 in NCAA tournament opportunities. This is the program's third consecutive tourney berth.

Iona: 2013 MAAC Champion

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    MAAC Title Game Recap

    After splitting a pair of regular-season matchups, Iona overcame Manhattan, 60-57, in the title-game grudge match. Junior Tre Bowman scored 20 points off the bench to lead the Gaels, who trailed by two points at halftime.

    Season in Review

    Iona was just 1-5 in February before winning its last five games en route to a conference crown. 

    NCAA Tournament Projection

    Winning its last five games en route to a conference crown, it's hard to believe Iona was just 1-5 at the end of February. The Gaels like to engage opponents in shootouts, ranking second nationally in scoring (81 points per game). This squad must come out firing to have a chance at an opening-round upset.

    March Madness Fact

    The team is technically 0-8 in NCAA tournament action. Iona won one game in 1980, but it was later vacated.

Gonzaga: 2013 West Coast Conference Champion

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    West Coast Conference Title Game Recap

    The Bulldogs bullied rival St. Mary's on the way to a predominately uncontested championship victory. Gonzaga avenged a 2012 title-game loss to the Gaels and capped off a perfect conference season, winning 65-51 in Las Vegas.

    Season in Review

    Gonzaga cruised through conference play undefeated and claimed its first national No. 1 ranking. Both Bulldogs losses occurred against teams ranked No. 13 (Illinois and Butler).

    NCAA Tournament Projection

    Gonzaga earned a No. 1 national ranking for the first time in program history and will now wait to see if a 31-2 record is enough to lock up a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. The Bulldogs gained a reputation as a postseason spoiler but enter the 2013 tourney as a favorite.

    March Madness Fact

    This is Gonzaga's 15th consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament. The Bulldogs haven't advanced beyond the first two rounds since 2006.

James Madison: 2013 Colonial Champion

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    Colonial Athletic Association Title Game Recap

    The Dukes dumped Northeastern 70-57 to earn a rare NCAA tournament berth. James Madison rode a 23-1 first-half run to build a valuable cushion in the contest.

    Season in Review

    The Dukes have done an excellent job of closing out tight contests. James Madison's last six victories were decided by a total of 17 points. 

    NCAA Tournament Projection

    This is a cohesive group of veteran players, highlighted by senior A.J. Davis, who scored 26 points against Northeastern. James Madison is likely headed for a swift tournament exit, but the appearance itself is a momentous occasion for the program.

    March Madness Fact

    The Dukes end a lengthy NCAA tournament drought. James Madison is going dancing for the first time since 1994.

Western Kentucky: 2013 Sun Belt Champion

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    Sun Belt Conference Title Game Recap

    Western Kentucky wrapped up its second straight NCAA tourney berth with a thrilling 65-63 victory over Florida International. The Hilltoppers, the conference's No. 5 seed, won four games in four days to solidify its spot in the big dance.

    George Fant led the way with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Western Kentucky trailed by as much as eight points during the title clash.

    Season in Review

    Western Kentucky struggled to find consistency until the second half of February. The Hilltoppers suffered eight losses in 11 games to fall to 13-14 on Feb. 16 but enter the NCAA tournament with seven wins in the last eight contests.

    NCAA Tournament Projection

    Western Kentucky is certainly a threat to pull off an upset or two in the tourney. The Hilltoppers, led by second-year head coach Ray Harper, finished the regular season, 16-15, but gained steam in the Sun Belt Conference postseason. 

    The Hilltoppers are limited offensively (43 percent shooting) but have tournament experience. Western Kentucky fell to eventual national champion Kentucky in the second round last season.

    March Madness Fact

    Western Kentucky might be the most consistent college basketball program you've never heard of. The Hilltoppers have reached the NCAA tournament seven times since 2001. Teams across the country would love to have that kind of postseason resume.

Davidson: 2013 Southern Conference Champion

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    Southern Conference Title Game Recap

    Davidson built a nine-point halftime lead over Charleston and pulled away with a strong second half to win 74-55. The Wildcats shot 55 percent from the floor, while limiting Charleston to 30 percent shooting.

    It was a well-rounded offensive effort for Davidson, as four players scored in double digits. Junior forward De'Mon Brooks bullied Charleston on his way to 24 points and eight rebounds. 

    The Wildcats defeated Charleston three times this season. 

    Season in Review

    Davidson has dominated on its drive to a second consecutive NCAA tournament appearance. The Wildcats have won a nation-best 17 straight since starting the season 9-7, and seven of those victories came courtesy of at least a 20-point margin.

    NCAA Tournament Projection

    Davidson ranks among the nation's top 50 teams in scoring and field-goal percentage. Forwards Jake Cohen and De'Mon Brooks provide the Wildcats' frontcourt with plenty of skill and size, while sharpshooter Nik Cochran keeps teams honest on the perimeter.

    The team will struggle to contend against a deep, athletic rotation, but it's built around a solid core of veterans. Davidson's roster has NCAA tournament experience, which should never be overlooked.

    Don't be surprised if the Wildcats make a splash and contend for a spot in the Sweet 16.

    March Madness Fact

    Davidson has been bounced in the tournament's first round in seven of its last eight appearances, including an opening-round loss to Louisville last season. The exception was a memorable trip to the 2008 Elite Eight. 

Creighton: 2013 Missouri Valley Champion

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    Missouri Valley Title Game Recap

    Creighton withstood a late charge from Wichita State to win its second consecutive Missouri Valley tournament title, 68-65. Guard Jahenns Manigat was the surprise hero with 16 points, including a late bucket to help seal the win.

    Season in Review

    A Top 25 mainstay through much of the year, Creighton (27-7, 13-5) rode the scoring prowess of POY candidate Doug McDermott to its second straight 20-win season and 15th in the last 16 years.

    NCAA Tournament Projection

    The Bluejays are one of the nation's top offensive teams and could be a dangerous third-round foe for someone on the top line if they indeed wind up with a No. 8 or No. 9 seed. Creighton ranks in the top two nationally in two-point field-goal percentage, three-point field-goal percentage and effective field-goal percentage (per

    In other words, the Jays get buckets.

    March Madness Fact

    Creighton has advanced to the Sweet 16 four times in program history but never further. The program's most recent second-weekend run came in 1974 under legendary head coach Eddie Sutton.

Liberty: 2013 Big South Champion

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    Big South Title Game Recap

    Ladies and gentleman, we have our first major upset. Liberty, who went just 6-10 in league play, stunned top-seeded Charleston Southern, 87-76, to complete an unlikely run through the Big South tournament.

    Season in Review

    Hamstrung by an injury to senior forward Antwan Burrus, Liberty limped through much of the regular season. The Flames did not win back-to-back games against D-I opponents until the Big South Conference tournament.

    NCAA Tournament Projection

    As the improbable winner of a bottom-tier conference, Liberty is almost certainly headed for a No.16 seed play-in game. The Flames—who have not beaten a Power Six team since 2009—will try to spring an upset on the strength of good three-point shooting and even better three-point field-goal defense. Anything after that is gravy.

    March Madness Fact

    According to the ESPN telecast, Liberty (15-20) is just the second ever 20-loss team to qualify for the Big Dance. Liberty is 0-2 all time in tournament play.

Harvard: 2013 Ivy League Champion

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    Ivy League Recap

    The Ivy League awards its automatic bid to the regular-season champion. The Crimson's 65-56 win over Cornell on Saturday coupled with a Princeton loss gave Harvard the title.

    Season in Review

    A cheating scandal resulted in two of the Crimson's top players leaving school before the season began, but Tommy Amaker's team overcame the setback to claim its second consecutive conference crown. In addition to their 11-3 league mark, the 19-9 Crimson notched non-conference wins over Cal, Boston University and Boston College.

    NCAA Tournament Projection

    A likely No. 14 or No. 15 seed, Harvard hopes its attacking, high-efficiency offense can spur an upset win. Freshman Siyani Chambers is one of the nation's better newcomers, and his 44-percent mark from beyond the arc is a major reason why the Crimson rank 11th nationally in three-point shooting percentage.

    March Madness Fact

    Last year, Harvard made its first NCAA appearance since 1946 and just its second all time. The Crimson have never won a tournament game.

Belmont: 2013 Ohio Valley Tournament Champion

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    Ohio Valley Title Game Recap

    Belmont staged a furious late-game rally to force overtime and eventually clip defending conference champion Murray State, 70-68. Star guard Kerron Johnson hit a game-winning jumper with 1.2 seconds left.

    Season in Review

    In their first year as a member of the Ohio Valley Conference, the Bruins went 26-6 overall and 14-2 in league play. Rick Byrd's team also secured wins over Stanford, Middle Tennessee State and South Dakota State.

    NCAA Tournament Projection

    Long regarded as one of the nation's elite mid-major programs, Belmont has had a banner year and could rise as high as the 10th line when brackets are released. B/R's C.J. Moore recently pegged the Bruins as a potential Cinderella based on the strength of their backcourt.

    Ian Clark and Johnson form one of the nation's best guard combos, and Belmont ranks 35th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency.

    March Madness Fact

    This is Belmont's sixth NCAA appearance in the past eight seasons. The program is still seeking its first tournament win in 14 years at the Division I level.

Florida Gulf Coast: 2013 Atlantic Sun Tournament Champion

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    Atlantic Sun Title Game Recap

    On the strength of a 50-point second half, Florida Gulf Coast pulled away from top-seeded Mercer en route to an 88-75 victory. For the game, the Eagles shot 11-of-20 from three.

    Season in Review

    Florida Gulf Coast scored an early-season upset over Miami and finished the season with 23 wins. Florida Gulf Coast plays fast and relies on a defense that boasts the nation's 43rd-best turnover rate.

    NCAA Tournament Projection

    A likely No. 16 seed when the brackets are announced, the Eagles will be looking to play giant-killer in Round 2. As the earlier victory over Miami proves, Florida Gulf Coast is the kind of disruptive, low-seeded foe that can cause problems for unprepared opponents.

    Among possible top seeds, Kansas has been the most turnover-prone. On their worst days, the Jayhawks can struggle with high-pressure opponents. 

    March Madness Fact

    This is the first-ever NCAA tournament appearance for Florida Gulf Coast. A recent Division I transfer, Florida Gulf Coast wasn't eligible for postseason play until last year.