Bracket Brief: Blackbirds, Jackrabbits and Crusaders
LIU-Brooklyn, South Dakota State and Valparaiso all punched their tickets to the NCAA Tournament, bringing the total number of automatic bids to 13.
LIU-Brooklyn figures to be a 16 seed but that doesn't mean they aren't entertaining to watch. The Blackbirds finished sixth in the nation in scoring and the 91 point they put up on Tuesday night is just a hint of their firepower. In three tournament games the Blackbirds scored a total of 276 points.
South Dakota State returns to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season after winning the Summit League title. The Jackrabbits are another high-flying team. During the season South Dakota State averaged 74 points per game and they put up 73 on Tuesday against one of the stingiest defenses in the country.
Valparaiso is dancing for the first time since 2004 thanks to a heart-stopping trip through the Horizon League Tournament. The Crusaders needed a buzzer beater to top Green Bay in the semifinals then overcame a second half deficit to beat Wright State. Perhaps this is a prelude to another great Valpo moment.
The Big East Tournament began with a brickfest between South Florida and Seton Hall. The score was tied at 37...at the end of regulation. The Bulls were able to grind out a win very reminiscent of their 2012 team that won two NCAA Tournament games. The only difference is South Florida fell off the map this year, winning just three conference games. That's how quickly fortunes can change in the Big East.