The Big Ten Conference has doubled its presence in the NCAA Tournament a year after its fewest picks in a decade.
A record eight Big Ten schools were selected for the 68-team field on Sunday, the most for any league. The ACC, which had three of the No. 1 seeds, and the SEC each got seven teams. Six Big 12 schools made the field.
There were only four teams from the Big Ten last year, when Michigan did make it to the NCAA championship game before losing to Villanova. That was the fewest since only four teams in 2008, when the league had 11 men’s basketball teams overall instead of the current 14.
Regular-season co-champions Michigan State and Purdue are in, along with Michigan, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin. The Spartans beat the Wolverines in the Big Ten Tournament final Sunday.
Indiana, another Big Ten team, was one of the first four teams left out of the NCAA Tournament.
Eleven different conferences sent multiple teams to the NCAA tourney. The last time that happened was 2015.
“This is a high year for us,” Stanford athletic director Bernard Muir, the chairman of the NCAA Division I basketball committee, said during CBS’ Selection Sunday show. “We were fortunate for the opportunities, especially that fell our way, that we could get more teams, deserving teams, into the field.”
There were seven teams from mid-major or smaller conferences that got at-large berths.
That included Belmont (26-5) getting an at-large bid despite losing in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament championship game to Murray State (27-4), which got the league’s automatic berth. It is the first time since 1987 that the OVC sent two teams to the NCAA Tournament.
Atlantic 10 regular-season champion VCU (25-7) needed an at-large berth after losing in the conference tournament that was won by Saint Louis (23-12).
The Big East and the American Athletic Conference each have four NCAA teams, and the Pac-12 has three. Along with the OVC and A-10, the Mountain West and West Coast Conference also had two selections.
Along with No. 1 seeds Duke, Virginia and North Carolina , the ACC is sending Florida State, Virginia Tech, Louisville and Syracuse.
North Carolina State, another ACC team, was left out despite being No. 33 in the latest NET rankings, the new analytical formula that replaced the RPI and aided the selection committee when making decisions.
Kentucky, Auburn, LSU, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Florida are going from the SEC, which missed having eight teams for the second year in a row when Alabama was one of the first four out.
The Big 12’s six tournament teams are Texas Tech, Kansas State, Kansas, Baylor, Iowa State and Oklahoma.
“I think our league is plenty good enough to have teams in the tournament that have multiple wins. Our league is not as top heavy as what it has been in the past,” said Kansas coach Bill Self, whose team’s record streak of 14 consecutive Big 12 titles was snapped this season. “This league has prepared by beating up on each other and we should be ready to go have some success next week.”
TCU, a 20-win team that went 7-11 in Big 12 play, was also in the first four out after losing six of its last eight regular-season games. The Horned Frogs last year snapped a two-decade drought since their last NCAA Tournament experience.
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