Ten tournament tickets get punched on Saturday

AP Photo/Michael Conroy
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There will be ten automatic bids to the NCAA tournament handed out today, from the America East’s 11 a.m. tip-off in Burlington, Vermont, to the 11:30 p.m. tip between UC Davis and UC Irvine in Anaheim.

The most interesting of the ten games, at least for the bubble teams around the country, will be the Conference USA final between Marshall and Middle Tennessee State. Kermit Davis’ Blue Raiders are probably going to be in the NCAA tournament regardless of whether or not they win or lose on Saturday, meaning that Marshall — who is coached by Dan D’antoni — is the prototypical bid thief.

If Marshall wins, someone — maybe USC, maybe Illinois State, maybe Kansas State, maybe Wake Forest — will find themselves heading to the NIT.

Marshall isn’t the only big thief out there right now.

Everyone in the Atlantic 10 not named VCU probably fits into that category as well. Richmond, who plays VCU in the A-10 semis at 3:30 p.m., is not getting an at-large bid, and neither is Davidson, who faces off with Rhode Island at 1 p.m. The Rams are an interesting case themselves. They are right on the bubble’s cut-line, but they won’t be able to land the wins they need to jump past the rest of the teams at the bottom of the at-large pool.

Here is today’s automatic bid schedule:

Albany at Vermont, 11:00 a.m.
Norfolk State vs. North Carolina Central, 1:00 p.m.
Colorado State vs. Nevada, 6:00 p.m.
Alcorn State vs. Texas Southern, 6:15 p.m.
Kent State vs. Akron, 7:30 p.m.
Marshall vs. Middle Tennessee, 8:30 p.m.
Weber State vs. North Dakota, 8:30 p.m.
Texas A&M-CC vs. New Orleans, 9:30 p.m.
New Mexico State vs. CSU Bakersfield, 11:00 p.m.
UC Davis vs. UC Irvine, 11:30 p.m.