NCAA tournament: Selection Sunday storylines to watch

dscott@charlotteobserver.comMarch 15, 2014 

It is Selection Sunday, perhaps the most anticipated day on college basketball’s calendar. Here are some storylines to consider before the NCAA tournament bracket is revealed at 6 p.m. on CBS (WBTV, ch. 3).

• Duke might have more than an ACC tournament championship to play for on Sunday when it faces Virginia in Greensboro. A victory could earn Duke a No. 1 NCAA tournament seed, along with Florida, Wichita State and Arizona. If the Blue Devils falter – or even if they don’t – that final No. 1 seed will likely go to Michigan if the Wolverines beat Michigan State in Sunday’s Big 10 tournament final. Villanova is also a possibility if it doesn’t go to Michigan or Duke.

• However the Blue Devils fare Sunday, their first tournament stop is certain to be Raleigh’s PNC Center, where second- and third-round games are scheduled. North Carolina’s early exit from the ACC tournament likely sends the Tar Heels elsewhere. Charlotte’s Time Warner Cable Arena, incidentally, will be the site of second- and third-round games in 2015.

• Will the ACC receive more than the five bids (Duke, Virginia, Syracuse, North Carolina, Pittsburgh) of which it is assured? We’ll see if N.C. State’s quarterfinal victory in the ACC tournament against Syracuse was enough for the Wolfpack (21-12). Florida State (19-13), which beat Maryland in the first round of the league tournament, is also firmly on the bubble.

• Four bubble teams to track:

Southern Methodist: Emergence of the Mustangs under former Charlotte Bobcats coach Larry Brown is one of the season’s top stories.

California: The Golden Bears (19-13) have quality victories against Arizona, Oregon and Stanford.

Tennessee: The Vols’ best nonconference victory came against Virginia in a 87-52 blowout. Tennessee could have really solidified its chances with a victory Saturday against Florida in the SEC semifinals.

Minnesota: The Gophers (19-13) didn’t do themselves any favors in an ugly 83-57 loss against Wisconsin in the Big 10 quarterfinals.

• Wofford (Southern), N.C. Central (Mid-Eastern Athletic) and Coastal Carolina (Big South) will be the Carolinas’ other representatives in the tournament. N.C. Central (28-5) goes for a first time in school history, while Coastal’s Cliff Ellis becomes the ninth coach to take a fourth team to the tournament (he also went with Auburn, Clemson and South Alabama). Wofford returns to the tournament for the first time since going two straight seasons in 2010 and ’11.

• Davidson’s name will be called later Sunday, and it won’t be how the Wildcats would have wanted. Coach Bob McKillop’s team, which lost in the semifinals of the Southern Conference tournament last week, will receive a bid to the National Invitation Tournament as the league’s regular-season champion.

Scott: 704-358-5889; Twitter: @davidscott14

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