NCAA Tournament 2019: Known Info for March Madness Bracket

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMarch 15, 2019

RICHMOND, KY - FEBRUARY 16: Ja Morant #12 of the Murray State Racers brings the ball up court during the game against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels at CFSB Center on February 16, 2019 in Murray, Kentucky. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Twelve programs have earned automatic bids into the 2019 NCAA men's basketball tournament and countless others are viewed as locks in the eyes of many experts. 

In the final three days before the bracket is released, 20 more teams will automatically qualify for the field of 68 as conference tournament champions. 

Fourteen of those automatic bids will be dished out Saturday, while the other six are handed out Sunday, with the Big Ten tournament champion earning the final one. 

Between now and Selection Sunday, plenty of programs will be forced to sweat out the decisions made by the selection committee, while others can sleep better knowing a spot in the Big Dance is coming their way. 

                  

Twelve Mid-Major Conference Tournament Champions Already in Field

Let's start with the teams we know for sure will be playing in the NCAA tournament. 

A dozen mid-major conference tournament champions were crowned between Saturday and Wednesday to start the list of upset-minded teams come the first round of the Big Dance. 

Of the 12, Gardner-Webb out of the Big South is the only program set for its first-ever NCAA tournament appearance. 

Patriot League champion Colgate may feel like a newcomer because it's making the second tournament appearance in school history and first since 1996. 

Ohio Valley champion Murray State and Iona out of the MAAC are the only two of the 12 making return trips to the field of 68. 

Murray State, who will be a popular upset pick with potential first-round NBA draft pick Ja Morant at the helm, fell as a No. 12 seed to West Virginia a year ago, while Iona dropped a first-round result to Duke as a No. 15 seed. 

Daniel R. Patmore/Associated Press

The Racers are generating the most buzz of the mid-major tournament champions because of Morant's on-floor exploits. 

Morant leads the nation in assists with 10 per game, and he is eighth in Division I in scoring with 24.6 points per game. 

While Morant is the top individual already locked into the tournament, Wofford is the best overall team preparing to dance. 

The Terriers, who won regular season and tournament titles in the tough Southern Conference, are projected as a No. 7 seed, according to ESPN.com's Joe Lunardi

Wofford and Murray State have the best chances to make a deep run right now, but there are always a few surprise mid-major teams, like UMBC and Loyola-Chicago in 2018, who steal the spotlight once the tournament games begin. 

                             

Around 30 Teams Appear to Be Locks for Field of 68

Even though some programs haven't clinched spots in the field of 68, it's safe to assume the likes of Virginia, Duke and Gonzaga will be involved. 

Chuck Burton/Associated Press

Depending on which expert predictions you read, around 30 teams are locked into the NCAA tournament regardless of what happens over the next three days. 

According to The Athletic's Eamonn Brennan, 33 teams are locks, while ESPN.com's John Gasaway counts 36 locks in his projections. 

Since there will be some overlap between teams already locked into the tournament and conference tournament champions, there's plenty of debate surrounding which bubble teams should earn the final spots.

Among the programs on the bubble you'll hear the most about before Sunday's selection show are Florida, NC State, Texas, Alabama, Belmont and Temple. 

Of course, the easiest way to lift yourself off the bubble is to win a conference tournament, which is still a possibility for a handful of bubble teams. 

                               

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.

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