Conference tournament season is here! The Atlantic Sun tournament begins today and over the next 14 days of conference tournaments we will drop from the current 339 eligible teams to 68. Along the way, this series will continue to countdown how many teams are still in the running, which teams still have at-large hopes, and which teams have clinched the right to be one of the final 68 vying for the national championship. Before we dig into today’s conference tournament play, let’s catch up on what happened over the weekend.
The 2023 #ASUN Bracket. pic.twitter.com/O60Ms4ke7X— Rocco Miller (@RoccoMiller8) February 25, 2023
Friday, February 24
Atlantic Sun regular season play wrapped up on Friday and two teams entered the day vying for the final spot in the ASUN tournament field: Florida Gulf Coast and Jacksonville. Jacksonville needed a win and a FGCU loss to advance. They got neither as they fell to Eastern Kentucky at home 52-56 and Pat Chambers’ Florida Gulf Coast beat last place Austin Peay 89-71.
It was a February to forget for Jacksonville as entering the month they were 12-9 (5-5) and even had a win over VCU (likely helping doom the A10 to one-bid status). Down the stretch in February, the Jacksonville Dolphins lost 7 of 8, beating only Austin Peay by four. They finish they season at 13-16 (6-12) just one year after making the championship game in the ASUN tournament. Although Jacksonville has made five NCAA tournaments (including a magical run to the national championship game in 1970 where they fell to UCLA 69-80), their tournament drought has now reached 37 years. Jacksonville losing dropped the number of teams in the running to 342.
Teams eliminated Friday, February 24:
- Jacksonville Dolphins
Saturday, February 25
Saturday was our first multiple team elimination day since the start of the season when the transitioning teams were effectively eliminated. Three teams saw their national championship hopes end.
In the Ivy League, we knew there would be the potential for three teams to be eliminated and two of them were.
Dartmouth could not afford a loss and unfortunately for them they fell to Penn on the road 79-89. Dartmouth has lost three in a row (including last Saturday’s game to last place Columbia) to go from 5-5 to 5-8 and 2 games behind 4th place and the last Ivy League tournament spot. With only one game to play, Dartmouth will be unable to make up that ground. The Big Green are 9-18 (5-8). Despite having two national championship runner-up appearances (1942 & 1944) and five Elite 8s to their name, Dartmouth has not made the tournament since 1959 and have not had a winning season since 1999.
Like their opponent next weekend, Harvard entered the weekend with the possibility of still advancing. The Crimson could not afford a loss combined with a win by either Cornell or Brown. Unfortunately for Harvard fans, they fell to Ivy leader Princeton 56-58 at home while Brown defeated Columbia 84-73. Harvard sits at 14-13 (5-8) and will wrap up their season with a game against Dartmouth next Saturday.
The third and final team to be eliminated Saturday was the Little Rock Trojans out of the Ohio Valley Conference. Little Rock had a head to head matchup with Lindenwood Saturday evening that determined who would get the last spot in the OVC tournament. On the road at Lindenwood and with their backs up against the wall, Little Rock put up a spirited fight with senior DeAntoni Gordon dropping 35 points. Unfortunately they fell in overtime to Lindenwood 96-97. Little Rock sits at 10-21 (6-12) and their season is over. They have not made the NCAA tournament since Chris Beard was their coach. No idea what happened that year. Must be a hole in my memory.
Teams eliminated Saturday, February 25:
- Dartmouth Big Green
- Harvard Crimson
- Little Rock Trojans
That brings the numbers to...
Number of Teams Eligible for Auto Bids - 339 (93.39%)
Number of Teams Eliminated - 24 (6.61%)
Number of Teams Eliminated since Friday - 4 (1.10%)
Teams Under Consideration for At Large Bids Only - 0
While I don’t really feel like I need to explain why over .500 Harvard won’t be getting an at-large bid, with conference tournament season beginning today and teams with decent records losing their ability to win an auto-bid, today is as good a time as any to explain what a team needs to do in order to enter the under consideration for at large bids category.
The criteria a team must meet:
- Overall winning percentage greater than or equal to .500. No team has ever received an at large bid with a losing record.
- A NET ranking of 85 or less on the day they are eliminated from auto-bid consideration. Last year’s Rutgers was the worst NET ranking for an at-large team ever at 77. Before them St. John’s made the tournament at #73 in 2019. Under the old RPI system, the lowest ranked team was #67 USC. I’m going to add some addition margin and call 85 the cutoff for now. Yes, there will be teams in the top 85 of the NET rankings that aren’t close to the actual cutline. But the committee has surprised us before and included teams that no one has had in their bracket projections.
With 36 at large spots and likely only 12-16 teams in the top 85 of the NET rankings getting auto-bids, you probably realize there will be somewhere around 30-35 teams under at-large consideration that don’t make it. That’s too many, but I’m going to err on the side of caution before officially eliminating a team. Those teams that don’t get selected by the committee will be eliminated on Selection Sunday.
The day ahead
Atlantic Sun Round 1 Play
Win or be eliminated mode
#7 North Florida Ospreys (14-16, 9-9) v. #8 Bellarmine Knights (14-17, 9-9, ineligible)
#9 Florida Gulf Coast (17-14, 7-11) v. #10 Queens Royals (17-14, 7-11, ineligible)
The SWAC has only eliminated 1 of their 4 teams that will be out prior to the start of the SWAC tournament.
Florida A&M sits at 5-11 and two games behind the SWAC cutline with two to play. They face Southern tonight and need a win to stave off elimination. They also need Texas Southern and Bethune Cookman to lose tonight.
Arkansas Pine Bluff and Alabama State sit one game behind Texas Southern and Bethune Cookman. Neither of them play again until Thursday. Pine Bluff cannot be eliminated tonight regardless of what happens. Alabama State can be eliminated if Texas Southern, Bethune Cookman, and Prairie View A&M all win tonight as they would lose any remaining tiebreaker scenarios.
Other conference races
Four other conferences have a combined 8 teams that will still be eliminated during the regular season, but none of them play tonight.
America East and MAC play resumes on Tuesday
Southland play wraps up on Wednesday
Ivy League play wraps up on Saturday
I’ll cover each of these races on the day that they resume plays.
How many teams will be eliminated today?
This poll is closed
0 - honestly didn’t think this was possible