Alert the folks in Dayton: Here Comes Cal Poly into the Big Dance

A 13-19 record, 11 of those wins while playing Division I schools (yes, you read this correctly) and the Mustangs of California Polytechnical Institute are going to their first ever NCAA Tournament, doing just enough to stun Reggie Theus and Cal State Northridge 61-59 in the Big West final late on Saturday night.

Want some more tidbits?

The green clad Mustangs were 6-10, for a sixth place finish during the Big West regular season.  Seeded seventh, they managed to upset the top seeded in UC Irvine on Friday night before Saturday’s big-time upset.  Oh, their RPI stands at 208–a very abysmal 0 for 5 playing teams rated in the Top 100.

Simply, it would stun this blog reporter if Cal Poly does not get slotted into the first grouping of games for either Tuesday or Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio.  Hopefully, the Committee will do the right thing after digesting also Providence claimed their first Big East crown since 1994 in throttling Creighton 65-58.  Doug McDermott only had nine points in the first half, but still finished with a game high 27.  However, it was the Big East runner-up to McDermott as the conference’s player of the year in Bryce Cotton that kept the offense humming in a very methodical pace all night and that 2-3 defense was suffocating in which the Blue Jays only led for a grand total of 35 seconds.

The other automatic bid winners from Saturday included:

  • Tulsa in Conference USA, back in for the first time since 2004
  • Texas Southern in the SWAC, and mercifully–none of the APR affected schools went very deep in that tournament.  A true, legimitate conference champion if there ever was one.
  • Louisville captured the inaugural AAC crown, but the Cardinals will be moving to the difficult terrain known as the ACC in 2014-2015.  And even Rick Pitino doesn’t care what seed his team will end up with on Selection Sunday.
  • UCLA came from behind to beat Arizona for the Pac-12, but we knew both teams were safely in the field.
  • Mountain West, New Mexico held off San Diego State 64-58.  The Aztecs, just like UCLA and maybe Creighton should earn at least a top 5 seed.
  • Western Michigan in the MAC, mostly done by lobs and dunks at the end of the game.
  • Weber State again represents the Big Sky, rerun material for the folks in Utah.
  • Yes, Stephen F. Austin won their 28th straight game en route to the Southland title.
  • Iowa State held off a pesky Baylor Bears squad in the Big 12.  Expect Baylor to replace Providence firmly on the bubble.
  • New Mexico State rounds out the double for that state in claiming the WAC easily over Idaho, 77-55.

And so, only one team remains with possible bubble implications on Sunday afternoon.

The final list of conference tournament games are:

ACC, Duke vs. Virginia–1 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.  UVA looking to win their first ACC crown since 1994.  Possible number 2 seed on the line for Duke.

Atlantic 10, St. Joseph’s vs. VCU–1 p.m. Eastern on CBS.  With the news on Friday that the ACC will stage their conference tournament at Barclay’s Center in 2017, the A-10 hopes to make a final stand here in 2014 with another possible wacky finish.  VCU should safely be in the field.

Sun Belt, Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Georgia State–1 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2.  Regardless who makes it, longtime Chicago Bulls fans might remember who is doing games for the Sun Belt Network.  It is former play-by-play man for most of the Jordan heyday in the 1990’s, Tom Dore.

SEC, Kentucky vs. Florida–3:15 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.  Florida looks in prime position to hold off Wichita State for the overall number 1 seed.  Also, is there an Ashley Judd sighting expected for the Georgia Dome?

Big Ten, Michigan State vs. Michigan–3:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS.  This title game in Indianapolis is mostly anticlimactic, due in large part since the simple fact that the semifinal games on Saturday all featured teams that we figured are safely in the field of 68.  This game may feature the final number 1 seed before the “Selection Show” begins in earnest at…

6 p.m. Eastern time.

Full analysis to follow on sports talk radio everywhere along with CBS Sports Network starting after an airing of PBR bull riding at 8 p.m. Eastern along with ESPN beginning at 7 p.m. Eastern time.  At 9 p.m., ESPN will air the premiere episode in their 30 for 30 series titled, Requiem for the Big East–a fond look back at the brutal wars in the glory days between 1982 through 2013.

Unless St. Joseph’s manages to steal a bid like Providence did on Saturday night, my next set of blogs will be analyzing the brackets, looking back (sheepishly, of course) at one of my first blogs back in November on which 68 schools I initially predicted to make the Big Dance card.  Finally, on Monday, I will be able to share the general tip times not only for the First Round in Dayton, but when the real fun begins in earnest on Thursday morning with CBS (covering their 33rd straight Tournament) teaming up with the three Turner cable stations in providing every game of the tournament in its’ entirety for the fourth consecutive year.

See you then!

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