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First 5 Automatic NCAA Tournament Bids

There was so many great basketball games played on Sunday, that it is hard to try and choose just one that had a huge impact. From the Bulls beating the Heat, to the Pacers extending their current losing streak at the hands of the surging Mavs, to the Pelicans coming back and beating the Nuggets in overtime, it was a great day to be in front of the TV. However, since it is tournament time in the NCAA, it’s only fair to give these student athletes the limelight. After Sunday, we now have five teams with automatic bids making the NCAA Tournament. Here are how those five teams guaranteed their spots.
Wichita State Wins Missouri Valley Tournament
It’s no surprise that the Shockers were going to make the tournament. The real question was whether or not they would win the Missouri Valley Tournament and put pressure on the selection committee to explain why they aren’t good enough to be the number one overall seed. Well with their 83-69 win over Indiana State, the Shockers were able to do both of those things, and attention will now shift to the Florida Gators to see how they finish in the SEC. An early exit for the Gators would not only mean that they have their current winning streak snapped, but it also could mean they give up the top spot in the National Tournament to the Shockers. However, if the Gators are able to go deep into the SEC Tournament, and maybe even win it, it’ll be interesting who grabs the top spot when it’s announced next Sunday.
In the mean time, the win also makes Wichita State the first team since UNLV in 1990 to go undefeated in the regular season and conference tournaments. The 34-0 mark is no accident and this Final Four team from last year is ready to make another run in the coming weeks.
Coastal Carolina Wins Big South Tournament
Coastal Carolina defeated Winthrop on Sunday, 76-61, to win the Big South Tournament. The Chanticleers haven’t made the tournament since 1993. And in their only two appearances, they are 0-2 against Michigan and Indiana as they were bumped in the first round in 1991 and 1993, respectively. However, Coastal Carolina will look to take their 11-5 conference record and 21-12 record overall into the tournament. On Sunday, Warren Gillis had 22 points –he averages 14.8 on the season- and Josh Cameron also added 19. If the tournament bid wasn’t enough, it had to have been sweet revenge for Coastal Carolina to beat Winthrop on Sunday, considering they lost to them twice already on the season.
Eastern Kentucky Wins Ohio Valley Tournament
As the #3 seed in the Ohio Valley tournament, Eastern Kentucky had a huge win when they upset #2 Murray State earlier in the weekend. However, it was their 79-73 win over #1 Belmont that will be the most memorable win of their year. At 24-9 on the year, including 11-5 in the Ohio Valley, Eastern Kentucky will be making their eighth trip to the NCAA Tournament, and their first since 2007. They are 0-7 throughout history, but Corey Walden, who had 29 on Sunday, and Glenn Cosey, who averages 18.8 on the season, will look to lead this two-headed Colonels team. Belmont was projected to get a #14 seed in the tournament before they lost to the Colonels, so we’ll see if that place holds true for the team that upset them to win the Ohio Valley.
Mercer Wins Atlantic Sun Tournament
Florida Golf Coast shocked the entire basketball world last year when they made a run to the Elite Eight last year. However, if any miracle run like that is going to happen this year, it’ll have to come from a bit of help from the selection committee since Mercer upset them 68-60 to win the Atlantic Sun Tournament on Sunday. Both of these teams were 14-4 in conference, including splitting the regular series against one another. However, Mercer had a better overall record and showed more talent on Sunday. Mercer will be making their third appearance to the NCAA Tournament, but their first in over 30-years since they last made it in 1985. They’ll look to change their luck, since they have yet to make it out of the first round in their previous two visits.
Harvard Wins Ivy League Season
The Ivy League doesn’t have a tournament to crown a champion, but Harvard’s 13-1 regular season record was enough to get first place in the conference and an automatic bid to the Big Dance. This will be the Crimson’s fourth overall visit to the tournament, but their third straight. This is a team that has a lot of experience on their squad, and they even got their first tournament win in school history in the first round of last year in an upset against New Mexico. Harvard was able to play Connecticut closely, although they eventually lost 56-61, and they also have a huge win over Boston College, who just happened to be the first team to knock off Syracuse this season. The Crimson have experience and talent, and they’ll hope that’ll take them further than the school has ever been in this years efforts.