March Madness 2017: Teams entering field

There was plenty of action on Tuesday, with some more team punching their tickets into the NCAA Tournament. While most of the big-name tournaments have not gotten underway yet, we have some of the smaller schools already beginning to dance their way into our hearts.

For starters, we already had the Winthrop and Florida Gulf Coast Eagles get into the tourney, while North Kentucky won the Horizon League on Tuesday, beating Milwaukee. For Northern Kentucky, it represents the first time it reached the NCAA Tournament, doing so in its first year of eligibility. The Norse will likely be a No. 16 seed, getting to play one of the big boys in the round of 64, provided it can avoid Dayton next Tuesday or Wednesday.

A couple of other schools getting into March Madness include the South Dakota State Jackrabbits and the Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers, of the Summit League and Northeast Conference, respectively.

Speaking of the big boys, we saw the Gonzaga Bulldogs win another West Coast Conference title, this time by easily dispatching the No. 19 St. Mary’s Gaels. The Gaels are one of the better teams in the nation as evidenced by their ranking, but they remain no match for the Bulldogs, who cruise into the tourney with a 32-1 record. At this point, it would be a surprise if Mark Few and his charges don’t get one of the four top seeds.

In other conference tournaments, we saw the ACC kick off with a couple of small games. The only major note to come out of those was the Wake Forest Demon Deacons taking care of the middling Boston College Eagles. Wake Forest has been a program without much to cheer about since the days of Tim Duncan and Chris Paul, but it appears it could be going dancing for the first time since 2010. The Demon Deacons aren’t much for defense, but the offense could get them into the Sweet 16. Considering they moved their record to 20-12 with the win, it seems they are a safe bet to be off the bubble.

Also, it looks like the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets will be going to the NIT. Georgia Tech had to beat the Pittsburgh Panthers to have a shot at the field of 68, but fell by a deuce to a team that came into the night with a 4-14 conference mark. The Yellow Jackets were on the proverbial bubble going into the night, and likely needed a small run in the tourney to have a chance.

On Wednesday, we’ll see the rest of the major conference tournaments get going. In only four days, we get Selection Sunday, and then a whole lot of fun.

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