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Introducing Cinderella: Stephen F. Austin is back to represent the Southland

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Conference: Southland

Coach: Kyle Keller

Record: 28-6, 14-4 (third in Southland)

Rankings and Ratings:

– Kenpom: 112
– RPI: 108
– AP/USA TODAY: Not ranked

Seeding: Stephen F. Austin is a likely looking at a No. 15 seed since they don’t have a lot of high-quality wins and the mid-major field is strong.

Names you need to know: The trio of Shannon Bogues, Kevon Harris and TJ Holyfield is very solid as all three players can put up points. Big man Leon Gilmore and senior guard Ty Charles are experienced seniors.

Stats you need to know: Tied for No. 18 in the country in field goal percentage at 49 percent, Stephen F. Austin takes high-percentage shots and has a number of different offensive weapons.

Big wins, bad losses: Stephen F. Austin has a road win over LSU on its record while they also barely lost on the road at Missouri and Mississippi State. All three of those teams were at least in NCAA tournament contention this week, so the Lumberjacks can hang with good teams.

How’d they get here?: The Lumberjacks dispatched Central Arkansas, Nicholls and SE Louisiana to win the Southland Conference Tournament.

Outlook: Would you want to face Stephen F. Austin in the NCAA tournament knowing the reputation? Even with a new coach in Keller from those postseason glory days, this is still a dangerous roster with players with NCAA tournament experience. But as a 15 seed, Stephen F. Austin will likely get taken down in the opener.

How do I know you?: Stephen F. Austin made the NCAA tournament in three consecutive years under head coach Brad Underwood before making the CIT last season. The Lumberjacks won a first round game in two of those seasons.

Introducing Cinderella: Marshall makes its first tournament appearance in 31 years

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Conference: Conference USA

Coach: Dan D’Antoni

Record: 24-10, 12-6 (Fourth in Conference USA)

Rankings and Ratings:

– Kenpom: 116
– RPI: 96
– AP/USA TODAY: Not ranked

Seeding: Marshall had a solid season in a decent league but they don’t have particularly strong computer numbers among mid-major teams. The Thundering Herd are likely going to be in the 12-14 range among teams.

Names you need to know: Marshall has a pair of 20-point scorers in junior guards Jon Elmore and C.J. Burks as both players can get hot and take over a game. Ajdin Penava is another potent scorer at 15 points per contest as the junior forward is a really good third option.

Stats you need to know: Dan D’Antoni is the older brother of NBA head coach Mike D’Antoni. The younger D’Antoni is famous for running a fast-paced offense that maximizes shot attempts and shots within the first seven seconds of the shot clock. Marshall follows that same approach, as they’re No. 5 in the country in adjusted tempo. Only Lipscomb and Oklahoma have played faster among potential NCAA tournament teams.

Big wins, bad losses: Conference USA had some solid teams this season as the Thundering Herd knocked off Middle Tennessee twice and Western Kentucky once during the season. Marshall also had some sub-150 RPI losses to Morehead State and UT San Antonio.

How’d they get here?: Marshall started the positive momentum with a win last Saturday over Middle Tennessee before winning the Conference USA Tournament with three straight wins. The Thundering Herd beat UT San Antonio, Southern Miss and Western Kentucky.

Outlook: Ending the season on a positive note makes Marshall a team to watch. Although the Thundering Herd have been inconsistent at times this season, they also have enough offense to make things interesting with the right opponent.

How do I know you?: Dan D’Antoni, as previously mentioned, has NBA bloodlines thanks to his brother. Dan was an assistant in the NBA under his brother for nine years with three teams.

Introducing Cinderella: Montana represents the Big Sky in the Big Dance

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Conference: Big Sky

Coach: Travis DeCuire

Record: 26-7, 16-2 (First in Big Sky)

Rankings and Ratings:

– Kenpom: 80
– RPI: 84
– AP/USA TODAY: Not ranked

Seeding: Montana was the best team in the Big Sky this season as they’ll likely be in the 13 to 14 seed range.

Names you need to know: Junior point guard Ahmaad Rorie is the team’s best player and leading scorer while junior Jamar Akoh was a third-team all-conference selection. Junior guard Michael Oguine was the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year.

Stats you need to know: Defense is what Montana can rely on as they are No. 62 in KenPom in adjusted defensive efficiency. With the conference’s best defender and a veteran group that includes some transfers, Montana has good athletes to man the floor.

Big wins, bad losses: Montana knocked off Pitt early in the season before respectable losses to Penn State and Washington. The Grizzlies haven’t played a lot of stiff competition but they also don’t have any sub-150 RPI losses.

How’d they get here?: Winners of six consecutive games, Montana took down North Dakota, Northern Colorado and Eastern Washington to win the Big Sky Tournament.

Outlook: One of the more intriguing teams in the field, Montana is capable of hanging with a team in the first round but they’ll ultimately be an underdog. The Grizzlies are more than capable of staying close with many of the teams in the field but they might not have enough firepower to get over the hill.

How do I know you?: Montana has made 11 NCAA tournament appearances with the last appearance coming in 2013. The Grizzlies picked off No. 5 seed Nevada for an upset win in the 2006 tournament. Rorie spent the first year of his college career at Oregon as he’s a former top-150 caliber recruit.

Introducing Cinderella: Buffalo is back in the field as a dangerous team

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Conference: MAC

Coach: Nate Oats

Record: 26-8, 15-3 (First in the MAC)

Rankings and Ratings:

– Kenpom: 78
– RPI: 30
– AP/USA TODAY: Not ranked

Seeding: One of the best mid-major teams in the country, Buffalo figures to fall in the 12-14 range for the 2018 NCAA tournament.

Names you need to know: With four scorers averaging over 14 points per game, Buffalo has a lot of weapons. Juniors CJ Massinburg, Nick Perkins and Jeremy Harris are all big contributors in the scoring column while senior guard Wes Clark is an effective scorer and distributor.

Stats you need to know: With the No. 41 adjusted offense and No. 16 adjusted tempo, Buffalo is going to be one of the more high-scoring teams in the 2018 NCAA tournament. Not many teams in the field count on four consistent double-figure scorers, let alone four guys over 14-plus per game.

Big wins, bad losses: Besides for dominating the always-underrated MAC, Buffalo had some respectable losses to teams like Cincinnati, Syracuse, St. Bonaventure and Texas A&M.

How’d they get here?: Buffalo has won six consecutive games entering the tournament as they beat Central Michigan, Kent State and Toledo to make the Big Dance.

Outlook: This is yet another scary double-digit seed with four really talented offensive players. Most of the roster already has NCAA tournament experience from two years ago and the Bulls tested a lot of quality teams a few months ago. Don’t be surprised if Buffalo gets a win or two.

How do I know you?: Buffalo reached the 2015 and 2016 NCAA tournament as Oats has made the NCAA tournament in two out of three seasons as head coach.

Introducing Cinderella: San Diego State is back in the NCAA tournament

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Conference: Mountain West

Coach: Brian Dutcher

Record: 22-10, 11-7 (fourth in the Mountain West)

Rankings and Ratings:

– Kenpom: 50
– RPI: 68
– AP/USA TODAY: Not ranked

Seeding: San Diego State enters the tournament with solid computer numbers and some decent wins. But with some bad losses in Mountain West play, they’ll likely be in the 12-14 range come Selection Sunday.

Names you need to know: The Aztecs are a balanced outfit filled with four double-figure scorers. Senior forward Malik Pope was a highly-touted recruit who is now a productive presence. Junior guard Devin Watson is also a factor scoring the ball while freshman Matt Mitchell has emerged as a presence. Freshman Jalen McDaniels might be the best long-term prospect among the group.

Stats you need to know: San Diego State can really defend during certain stretches. The Aztecs own a top-40 adjusted defense on KenPom as they have the length and athleticism of a power conference team. Don’t be fooled by the seed — this team is filled with former top-150 recruits who fit the high-major profile.

Big wins, bad losses: An up-and-down season gives San Diego State an intriguing profile entering the tournament. They own two wins over Nevada in the last week while also beating Gonzaga and Georgia earlier in the year. Even with the good wins, San Diego State lost to mediocre Mountain West teams

How’d they get here?: San Diego State is riding a nine-game winning streak entering the 2018 NCAA tournament. The Aztecs beat Fresno State, Nevada and New Mexico on three straight days in Las Vegas to claim the autobid in the Mountain West Conference Tournament.

Outlook: With a big winning streak, loads of talent and two recent wins over an NCAA tournament team, the Aztecs are an extremely dangerous double-digit seed. This is the type of group that can make the second weekend if the matchups line up correctly.

How do I know you?: First-year head coach Brian Dutcher is a long-time assistant coach under Stever Fisher at both Michigan and San Diego State. Featured prominently in the “Fab Five” 30 for 30, Dutcher is a 58-year-old, first-time head coach making the NCAA tournament in his first season. That’s a fun storyline to root for. NCAA tournament fans should also be quite familiar with San Diego State. The Aztecs made six consecutive NCAA tournament appearances before going to the NIT last season.

Introducing Cinderella: Texas Southern makes the field for fourth time in six years

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Conference: SWAC

Coach: Mike Davis

Record: 15-19, 12-6 (third in SWAC)

Rankings and Ratings:

– Kenpom: 255
– RPI: 231
– AP/USA TODAY: Not ranked

Seeding: Since Texas Southern is under .500, they’re basically guaranteed to go to Dayton as a No. 16 seed in the First Four.

Names you need to know: Sophomore point guard Damontrae Jefferson is one of the most exciting players to watch in the entire field. The 5-foot-7 ball of energy is an undersized scoring machine (23.7 ppg) and he’s perfectly suited to run the uptempo Texas Southern offense. Senior guard Donte Clark, junior guard Derrick Bruce and senior wing Kevin Scott are also double-figure scorers.

Stats you need to know: Texas Southern played the toughest non-conference strength of schedule in the country as they started the season 0-13 — playing tough competition on the road the entire time. The Tigers didn’t play their first home game until Jan. 1. Also the No. 28 team in the country in adjusted tempo, according to KenPom, the Tigers love to get up and down the floor and make games a track meet.

Big wins, bad losses:  The ridiculous stretch to start the season gave Texas Southern games against NCAA tournament teams like Gonzaga, Ohio State and Clemson as they’ve played a lot of quality teams.

How’d they get here?: Texas Southern is in the midst of a seven-game winning streak entering the 2018 NCAA tournament. The Tigers knocked off Prairie View A&M and Arkansas Pine-Bluff.

Outlook: Texas Southern is a surprisingly fun No. 16 seed to watch because of its unique star power and uptempo style. The 0-13 record to start the year also speaks for itself. There’s a chance the Tigers get a win over another No. 16 seed in Dayton but that would be it.

How do I know you?: This is the fourth time Texas Southern has made the NCAA tournament in six years under head coach Mike Davis — an impressive stretch for a one-bid league. Davis should also be familiar from his time coaching Indiana and UAB as he took the Hoosiers to the national title game in 2002.