Cinderella Casting: America East, Conference USA, Mid-Eastern Athletic, Southland Auto Bids

March 10, 2012

We are less than 24 hours away from the 68-team being released, but still eleven automatic bids will be handed out to teams before the selection committee makes its final decisions. In other words, there is a lot of work left to do.

Here are four more teams that punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament earlier today.

America East

Automatic Bid: Vermont

Projected Seed: 16

Probability of Being a Cinderella: Very Unlikely

The Catamounts upset Stony Brook in the America East tournament final to get back to the NCAA Tournament for the 5th time in the school’s history. Although Vermont is forever ingrained into NCAA Tournament lore because of its 2005 first round upset of fourth seeded Syracuse, that win is the Catamounts one and only in the Big Dance. There is a high probability that it will remain Vermont’s only NCAA Tournament victory for at least another year.

Unless the Catamounts are rewarded a play-in game, don’t expect much from a team almost sure to receive a 16 seed.

Conference USA

Automatic Bid: Memphis

Projected Seed: Anywhere from 6 to 8

Probability of Being a Cinderella: N/A

Other teams from the conference that will probably get in: Southern Mississippi

I have a friend who told me today that he thinks Memphis is his team this year, which I took to mean the team he feels could make some noise that people may underestimate. Although I can’t consider them a true “Cinderella story” for the first couple of rounds due to their projected seeding, I will say that I agree that Memphis is going to be a dangerous team in the tournament.

The Tigers should be prepared for tournament play thanks to their grueling non-conference schedule, which included games against Georgetown (twice), Louisville, Michigan, Murray State and Xavier. Although Memphis was a combined 1-5 against those teams, they were in every single one of those games. This relatively young team was forced to grow up fast, and the byproduct of that is a team that rolled through the C-USA tournament. Expect the Tigers to be an extremely tough out, even for the top seeds if they make it that far.


Automatic Bid: Norfolk State

Projected Seed: 16

Probability of Being a Cinderella: Very Unlikely

It’s always nice to see a school making its first ever appearance in the NCAA tournament, although usually the stay is not an extended one. There is little doubt that the MEAC tournament champ will end up a 16 seed, and will likely be one of the four 16 seeds to play in Dayton.

If they do manage to emerge victorious, expect a sound beating from one of the top seeds. Thanks for playing, Spartans.


Automatic Bid: Lamar

Projected Seed: 16

Probability of Being a Cinderella: Very Unlikely

Pat Knight wasn’t able to lead Texas Tech to the NCAA Tournament, but apparently his post-game rant back on February 22nd had some effect. The Cardinals are headed back to the Big Dance for the first time since 2000, and haven’t lost a game since their coach’s tirade.

While it’s an interesting, if not somewhat head-scratching story considering some of the things said by Knight about his seniors, the fact is that Lamar will have a difficult time keeping the win streak intact. All signs point to the Southland Conference champs receiving a low seed.

– K. Becks

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