At 6 p.m. EST on CBS, we’ll begin to find out who’s in and who’s out of the 68-team field for the 2019 edition of the NCAA tournament.
As we’re still a few hours away, here’s some unanswered questions before the bracket is unveiled.
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How did Saturday’s games make an impact?
The teams hoping for at-large bids were likely not happy to see the Oregon Ducks win the Pac-12 tournament title last night.
The Ducks looked to be on the outside looking in heading into Saturday. In his March 12 bracket prediction, Andy Katz did not have Oregon in the field of 68. But the Ducks bulldozed their way into the field, upsetting top seed Washington to win the Pac-12 final and claiming the league’s automatic bid.
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It appears that Washington could have a resume to get in as an at-large bid. Katz had the Huskies slated as a No. 9 seed in his prediction, and they’re 45th in NET and 51st in KenPom. Should Washington get an at-large, that would push another hopeful aside. Some teams from Katz's first five out: Alabama, Georgetown, Creighton, Clemson and Belmont.
Is Duke the No. 1 overall seed?
It seems possible, but we’ll have to wait for the committee’s final say, obviously.
Sparked by the return of freshman phenom Zion Williamson, Duke won three straight ACC tournament games to take the league’s crown, capped off by a 73-63 win against Florida State on Saturday.
Before the Blue Devils’ run, Katz already had them slated as a No. 1 seed in the Midwest, joining Virginia, Gonzaga and Kentucky as the other projected No. 1 seeds. But since that prediction, all of those other teams have lost. The Zags fell in the WCC title game to Saint Mary’s, the Cavaliers were upset in the ACC semifinals by Florida State and the Wildcats fell to Tennessee yesterday.
Out of those four, only Duke was able to survive the gauntlet of a conference tournament.
How will Sunday’s games impact things?
Several automatic bids will be decided to help fill out the tournament field. Yale and Harvard will battle for the Ivy League crown, Saint Louis and St. Bonaventure are facing off for the A-10 title, Tennessee faces Auburn in the SEC championship, UT Arlington takes on Georgia State in the Sun Belt, Houston goes up against Cincinnati for the American title, and Michigan will meet Michigan for all the marbles in the Big Ten.
The losers of the conference tournament finals in the Ivy League, Sun Belt and A-10 will likely be left out of the Selection Sunday festivities, but in the bigger conferences, both finalists are in decent shape to get in, as all are ranked in the AP Top 25 Poll.
Still, No. 22 Auburn, No. 24 Cincinnati and No. 10 Michigan could improve their standings with upset wins today.
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What happens with the hopeful at-large bids?
VCU, Belmont, UNCG, Furman and Lipscomb will be anxiously watching CBS on Sunday evening. Aside from VCU, these teams come from league’s that are typically only awarded with one bid a year. However, despite these schools falling in their conference tournaments, each have impressive resumes.
Each squad is ranked in the top 81 of KenPom and the top 60 of NET. Each team has wins in Quad One.
Belmont owns a 5-3 record against Q1 and Q2 teams, and also has 12 road wins. Furman was ranked in the AP Top 25 poll earlier this year after wins against 2018 Final Four teams Villanova and Loyola Chicago. Lipscomb went 3-3 in road games against Q1 and Q2 teams, and the Bisons own wins over TCU, SMU and Vermont. UNCG has two Q1 wins, and went 24-0 against teams in Q2, Q3 and Q4. VCU had a 12-game winning streak in A-10 play, and in the non-conference slate, the Rams notched wins over Texas, Wichita State, Temple and Hofstra.
How the committee views these teams will be one of the many things to keep an eye on.
Mitchell Northam is a graduate of Salisbury University. His work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Orlando Sentinel, SB Nation, FanSided, USA Today and the Delmarva Daily Times. He grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore and is now based in Durham, N.C.