Sizing Em’ Up: America East, Conference USA, Big Sky, Northeast, Patriot Auto-Bids

March 12, 2011

In just over 24 hours, we will finally know who is in the tournament, where they will be playing, and a better sense of what teams truly have a shot of making a run at the Final Four. We’ll also know what teams didn’t make the tournament, and will likely get some interesting sound bites from the coaches of teams that are on the outside looking in (however, after Virginia Tech’s victory last night over Florida State, it is unlikely that we will get yet another ESPN interview with Seth Greenburg about his team just missing the Big Dance). All of the teams in the post are feeling good though, as they have already punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament, and are just awaiting their seed. Here are four more teams that will be carrying the banner for their respective conferences next week.

America East

Automatic Bid: Boston University

Projected Seed: 16

Probability of Being a Cinderella: Very Unlikely

There is a high probability that the Terriers will have to play a team, such as Pittsburgh or Duke, which has an offense that can score quickly and often. Boston University is just not built to do that, so don’t be surprised if their game is out of reach by the end of the first half.

Conference USA

Automatic Bid: Memphis

Projected Seed: 12

Probability of Being a Cinderella: Decent

Memphis will not be phased by playing a team from a major conference; they played a tough schedule this season, including games on the road against Kansas and Tennessee, and at home against Georgetown. By the same token, no one will be taking Memphis lightly either. The memories of Derrick Rose and the 2008 Memphis Tigers that made it all the way to the National Championship are still relatively fresh in people’s minds, which will almost undoubtedly be noted when discussing this team as many times as Dicky V will tell you North Carolina is going to the Final Four. This year’s Tigers team isn’t nearly as good as the 2008 team, but is still talented enough to pull off an upset or two.

Big Sky

Automatic Bid: Northern Colorado

Projected Seed: 15

Probability of Being a Cinderella: Very Unlikely

This is the Bears first NCAA tournament appearance ever. That being said, Northern Colorado is probably one of the few teams in the tournament who will be happy to play a team the likes of Notre Dame, North Carolina, or one of the other top teams in the nation. The Bears should enjoy the moment, because they earned it (winning not only the Big Sky tournament but also finishing first in the conference in the regular season), but are an undersized team that may have trouble matching up with the bigger teams. The Bears certainly will be playing the underdog role in the NCAA tournament.


Automatic Bid: Long Island

Projected Seed: 14 or 15

Probability of Being a Cinderella: Unlikely

This may be the best team to come out of the Northeast Conference in years. Still, it is the Northeast Conference. Long Island did a nice job against their conference foes this season (16-2 regular season conference mark), but didn’t really play anyone of note other than Northwestern, and lost to them by sixteen. This team has the capability of scaring a team, like fellow Northeast Conference member Robert Morris did to Villanova in last year’s tournament, but it will probably be one and done for the Blackbirds.


Automatic Bid: Bucknell

Projected Seed: 13 or 14

Probability of Being a Cinderella: Decent

Known for their bracket busting, Bucknell comes into the tournament with the tools necessary to pull off yet another shocking win. The Bison are a difficult team to score on, which should allow them to at least be competitive against whomever they play. On the offensive end, Bucknell is hard to gameplan for because of 6’11 center Mike Muscala. Muscala is a typical big man in that he gobbles up rebounds and gets a block or two per game, but he is atypical in that he can step out and shoot the mid-range jumper effectively. Teams that have issues scoring or guarding a big man may be in for some trouble against the Bison.

– K. Becks

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