NCAA Automatic Bid Team Breakdowns - Part 2
Six teams down, another five coming at you now. We have seen some 16, 15, 13 and even nine seeded teams get automatic bids. The next five contain plenty of double-digit seeds, but it also contains the number one team in the country as well. And when you are reading this do not just scroll to Gonzaga to see my thoughts on them because your bracket depends on knowing the first four teams as well.
Ohio Valley Champion - Morehead State (23-7)
Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2011
Andy Katz Tournament Seed Ranking: 13
One of the biggest upsets of the conference championships came in the Ohio Valley Conference championship game. Belmont was favored by seven points but got ran off the floor 86-71 by the Morehead State Eagles. Now Morehead State is still a very talented team, but their non-conference play was poor. They got blown out by a bad Kentucky team, Richmond, Clemson, and Ohio State by double-digits. They did roll in conference play though, finishing 17-3 in the Ohio Valley. Morehead State does have a very solid defense, so that will be huge against whatever team they get in the first round. This is not an upset waiting to happen for me, since offensively they are below average, but if they get a team on an off-shooting night you never know.
Southern Champion - UNC-Greensboro (21-8)
Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2018
Andy Katz Tournament Seed Ranking: 14
The Southern conference had some pretty solid teams, with four teams finishing with nine or less losses. But it was UNC Greensboroh that got hot at the right time, winning four games in a row to get the automatic bid to the big dance. They knocked off Mercer 69-61 in the final thanks to 25 points from Isaiah Miller. This is a great rebounding team all-around, especially on the offensive glass. They are T12th in the NCAA at 11.4 offensive boards per game, so they get a lot of second-chance points. A 13 knocking off a four seed is always tough, but if they get a poor rebounding team they could potentially keep it close, if not win outright. Monitor this one as a potential upset waiting to happen.
Summit Champion - Oral Roberts (16-10)
Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2008
Andy Katz Tournament Seed Ranking: 14
Andy Katz had North Dakota State winning this conference and becoming a 14 seed, but with Oral Roberts upsetting them in the final they could easily slip to a 15 or 16 by tournament time. That being said congratulations are in order for the 16-10 Golden Eagles, who haven't made the tournament in over a decade. Max Abmas had a big 23-7-4 game to win the conference final 75-72. I really hope Oral Roberts remains a 14 seed because boy does this team make me think they could upset any three seed that they potentially get. The biggest reason is they are number one in three-pointers made per game at 11.3 a contest. They also shoot it efficiently from downtown at 39%, which is the ninth-best in the country. Throw in the fact that they are second in the country at the charity stripe and this team could be incredibly exciting to watch. No matter what, expect a high-scoring game, cause they don't defend but they do score.
Sun Belt Champion - Appalachian State (17-11)
Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2000
Andy Katz Tournament Seed Ranking: 15 Seed
The Sun Belt will be represented by the Appalachian State Mountaineers. This is just their third trip to the NCAA tournament and the first since 2000 for this program, so once again congratulations to a small basketball school having one hell of a year. They were the seven seed in the conference and won four games in four days to win the title, so they are a true cinderella. However, the storybook run will end here, as they will get a tough two seed in their opener. Offensively they are quite poor, so they will rely on their defense to keep it close with their opponent. Why do I have such little amount of faith in this team? Their lone game against a good team was a 79-38 loss to Tennessee.
West Coast Champion - Gonzaga (26-0)
Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2019
Andy Katz Tournament Seed Ranking: 1 Seed
The number one team in the nation is Gonzaga and they likely will be the number one overall seed after knocking off BYU in the West Coast Conference final. People love to point out the weak conference and say "well once Gonzaga plays someone good in the tournament they will lose." Well, they beat Kansas by 12 on the road, West Virginia by 5 at home, Iowa by 11 on the road, Virginia by 23 at home, and then won their other 22 games as well. They are undefeated which means all the pressure in the world is on this team. Jalen Suggs, Corey Kispert & Drew Timme lead this talented squad and I cannot wait to see how far they go. They are number one in field goal percentage, true shooting percentage, and offensive rating in the country. They also distribute the third-best in the nation, oh and they have the eighteenth best defensive rating, so they are no slouches on the other end of the floor. I am rooting for Gonzaga to win it all and if they do they will be the first undefeated team since Indiana 45 years ago.
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