Four more tickets punched on Tuesday, led by Gonzaga winning the WCC again over BYU

No doubts about Gonzaga, as the BYU Cougars will have to wait until Sunday to find out their tournament fate.  It was not much of a contest in Las Vegas on Tuesday, as Gonzaga raced out to a 20 point lead and was never threatened at any point during the game.

Unless other bubble teams have awesome weekends, more than likely BYU should be in the field.

Other games that decided bids on Tuesday:

Mount St. Mary’s and Wisconsin-Milwaukee each qualified for the fourth time.  UWM’s win was more impressive in the fact that the Panthers won at Wright State for the first time since 2005.  MSM is in its’ first NCAA Tournament since 2008 representing the NEC, while in the Horizon League (formerly the Great Midwest Conference), Wisconsin-Milwaukee goes dancing the first time since 2006.

Going back for the second straight season is North Dakota State, as the Bison took over in the final 8 1/2 minutes to upend a very gutsy yet determined Matadons squad from Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne.  IPFW was seeking their first ever trip to the Big Dance, just like William & Mary on Monday in the CAA final game.

But the story of the night belonged to Gonzaga, qualifying for the 16th straight year.  And the son of Basketball Hall of Famer John Stockton will lead them.  If he is half as good as his father was back in the day, this is going to be one tough out in the Big Dance.

Other conference tournaments began in the SWAC as:

* Grambling made it through to the second round, winning 84-75 over Jackson State.  The reason that I have an asterisk beside their name is that they are one of four schools that are ineligible for the NCAA Tournament (please read my March 1 blog for more details).

Also, Conference USA got underway in El Paso–as North Texas upended Rice 63-62 in overtime and Marshall as the 14th seed upset the 11 in Florida Atlantic, 63-59.

The host school plays on Wednesday, along with former longtime CAA member Old Dominion and an intriguing 8/9 game late at night when UAB takes on UNC Charlotte.

Also starting up will be the inaugural American Athletic Conference at the former Conference USA long standing home of the FedEx Pyramid in Memphis.Cincinnati won a coin-toss on Saturday afternoon over the defending champions of Louisville to earn the top seed, even though both the Bearcats and Cardinals had identical conference records.

The ACC gets going in Greensboro, with Notre Dame making their ACC Tournament debut in the early afternoon against Wake Forest.  The Pac-12 starts in Las Vegas at the fabulous MGM Grand Resort, with the Civil War of Oregon/Oregon State highlighting the early evening session.  The SEC features floundering Vanderbilt in Atlanta, but the new kids on the block Texas A&M and Missouri, you may be wondering?  They meet on Thursday afternoon.

The revised Big East begins in NYC, with Butler and DePaul highlighting the first night of action, but the key tournament to watch will be in Kansas City as the Big 12 begins at night with Oklahoma State looking to improve its’ bubble situation playing an 8/9 game with Texas Tech at 7 p.m. Eastern.  The nightcap has the 7 seed of Baylor taking on the 10 of TCU.

Finally, the Southland Conference begins their tournament in Katy, Texas with former foes of the Valparaiso Crusaders many years back in Oral Roberts making their tournament debut against McNeese St. in a 6/7 showdown at 9:30 p.m. Eastern time.  The first game at 7 p.m. pits the 5 seed of Nicholls State against the 8 in Southeast Louisiana.

Only one automatic bid will be up on Wednesday night, 7:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network, as the Patriot League will have their final game pitting second seed American University of Washington, DC at the top seed Boston University.

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