After five teams clinched their place in the National Tournament over the weekend, three more teams were able to punch their tickets on Monday to go dancing starting next week. Sure, none of these teams are likely to be the favorite in whatever matchup they draw, but maybe, just maybe, one of these schools could have a bit of Cinderella in them in the coming weeks. Here is a look at who will be dancing along with the five teams we outlined on SportsPicks.com yesterday.
Manhattan Wins Metro Atlantic
Manhattan was not favored to beat Iona in the MAAC Tournament, but the #2 seed was able to edge #1 with a final score of 71-68. This was certainly the Jaspers closest matchup, considering they won convincingly by 15 and 19 in their previous two games in the tournament. Manhattan’s head coach, Steve Masiello said after the game that Iona is a team that could make the tournament even without winning the MAAC, and that they push other teams in the conference to be their best. Well on this night, the Jaspers certainly were at their best. George Beamon lead the team with 16 points and big man Ashton Pankey had 9 rebounds. Before tonight, the two teams had split their regular season matchups, with the last one going into overtime until the Jaspers were able to pull out the 80-77 victory. It’s been ten years since Manhattan went to the National Tournament. However, it was that year that they completely shocked Florida and beat them in the first round, 75-60. They then narrowly lost to Wake Forest, 84-80 in the field of 32. Overall they have a record of 3-7 in the NCAA Tournament. It has been a long time since Manhattan has gone dancing, so you know that these kids will be ready for whoever comes their way in the first round.
Delaware Wins Colonial Athletic Tournament
Delaware was the favorite to win this tournament all along, but it was a nail bitter finish that ended at 75-74 in favor of the Blue Hens over William & Mary. That is certainly a much closer margin than anyone on Delaware would’ve liked, but this is the first time since 1999 that they have gone to the National Tournament, so they’ll take it any way they can. The good news might end there for Delaware, as the team has an 0-4 record and has never made it out of the first round. But in a year where they went 14-2 in conference and 25-9 overall, the Blue Hens have become accustomed to winning and they’ll hope to ride that momentum for as long as they can. Delaware is led by Devon Saddler, a senior who puts in 19.7 points per game, and Carl Baptiste, who pulls down an average of 8 boards per. Delaware could be a team that could surprise some people, so check back with sportspicks.com handicappers once it is announced who they’ll be playing in the first round.
Wofford Wins Southern Conference Tournament
Once top seeded Davidson and second seeded Chattanooga were knocked out of the Southern Conference Tournament in their second round games, it was anyone’s guess would win the automatic bid. However, #3 Wofford was able to beat #5 Western Carolina in a 56-54 final in North Carolina. Wofford has a 20-12 record and is 11-5 in the Southern. They finished third in the conference, which some would argue isn’t all that impressive. However, this is what tournaments are all about and all it takes is teams to get hot at the right moment for them to go on a streak. It’s likely that Wofford could be a #16 seed in whatever region that get placed in. However, that won’t stop them from trying to do as much damage as they can with Karl Cochran and the 6’6” Lee Skinner. Wofford has only been to the big dance twice in its schools history, though that came in consecutive years in 2010 and 2011. In 2010 they lost to Wisconsin in a 13-4 matchup, and BYU beat them in 2011 in a 14-3 matchup. Luckily for them they won’t have to play a guy named Jimmer Fredette this year, but instead they’ll likely have to play a tough team that is seeded one or two in their bracket.
After Tuesday we’ll have four more tickets punched from the Northeast, Horizon, West Coast and Summit Leagues. Check back to see the results of those games on Wednesday.