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Preview: First Four Matchups


6:40 p.m.: No. 16 North Carolina A&T vs. No. 16 Liberty - Game Preview

Winner will play No. 1 Louisville on Thursday in Lexington, Ky.

NORTH CAROLINA A&T

Conference: Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (tie-sixth)

Record: 23-9

Etc.: Despite tying for sixth in the MEAC after the regular season, N.C. A&T earned its way in with a stunning run through the MEAC tournament. The seventh-seeded Aggies, who had not won more than two straight games in the regular season, won four straight capped by a 57-54 win over Morgan State in the title game. It’s the first appearance for the Aggies since 1995 and their 10th overall (0-9). The Aggies will be somewhat familiar with the trip to Dayton. Wright State beat N.C. A&T 56-44 at the Nutter Center on Nov. 14.

LIBERTY UNIVERSITY

Conference: Big South (fifth, North Division)

Record: 15-20

Etc.: The Flames are the second team with 20 or more losses to qualify for the tournament, joining the 2008 Coppin State team that was 16-20. Liberty started the season 0-8 and didn’t beat Division I opponents in consecutive games during the regular season. But they rattled off five straight wins for their first Big South title behind tourney MVP Davon Marshall, beating Charleston Southern 87-76 for the title. John Caleb Sanders (14.2 points), Marshall (13.4) and Tavares Speaks (13.1) are the leading scorers.

9:10 p.m.; No. 11 Middle Tennessee State vs. No. 11 Saint Mary’s - Game Preview

Winner will play No. 6 Memphis on Thursday in Auburn Hills, Mich.

MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE

Conference: Sun Belt (first, East Division)

Record: (28-5)

Etc.: The Blue Raiders are making their first appearance since 1989 after receiving an at-large bid. A 61-57 upset loss to Florida International in the Sun Belt title game snapped a 17-game winning streak, then the nation’s longest active stretch. Marcus Knight is the team’s leading scorer (12.5) and rebounder (5.8). Middle Tennessee State is 2-7 in six previous trips to the tournament.

SAINT MARY’S

Conference: West Coast (second)

Record: 24-10

Etc.: The Gaels, who also received an at-large bid, are making their eighth tournament appearance and bring in a 3-7 record. Three of Saint Mary’s losses are to No. 1 seed Gonzaga, including a 65-51 setback in the West Coast Conference championship game. Matthew Dellavedova (15.8) leads the offense.

6:40 p.m.; No. 16 LIU-Brooklyn vs. No. 16 James Madison - Game Preview

Winner will play No. 1 Indiana on Friday at Dayton

JAMES MADISON

Conference: Colonial Athletic Association (fourth)

Record: 20-14

Etc.: The Dukes are in for the first time since 1994 with a 70-57 win over Northeastern in the CAA title game. Rayshawn Goins (12.7 points, 7.4 rebounds per game) was the tournament MVP after going for 26 points to avenge a 66-64 loss to Northwestern on Feb. 20. The Dukes are 3-4 overall in the tournament and make their fifth appearance.

LONG ISLAND-BROOKLYN

Conference: Northeast (tie-second)

Record: 20-13

Etc.: After a three-way tie for second in the Northeast Conference, the Blackbirds became the first team to win the postseason tournament three years in a row. C.J. Garner went off for 31 points in a 91-70 win over Mount St. Mary’s in that title game. The Blackbirds are 0-5 going into their sixth NCAA appearance.

9:10 p.m., No. 13 Boise State vs. No. 13 La Salle - Game Preview

Winner will play No. 4 Kansas State on Friday in Kansas City

BOISE STATE

Conference: Mountain West (tie-fourth)

Record: 21-10

Etc.: The Broncos earned an at-large bid despite falling to San Diego State 73-67 in the quarterfinals. It’s their first at-large bid in program history and gives them their sixth overall appearance (0-5), the last coming in 2008. Boise State averages 73.3 points per game and boasts a trio of double-digit scorers in Anthony Drmic 17.3, Derrick Marks 16.3 and Jeff Elorriaga 10.3.

LA SALLE

Conference: Atlantic 10 (tie-third)

Record: 21-9

Etc.: Welcome back, La Salle. The Explorers are making their 11th appearance overall but first since 1992 and carry an 11-10 tournament record into the game. La Salle averages 72.4 points, a tick below Boise State’s average. La Salle, which has won 20 games in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1988-89 and 1989-90, could benefit from its A-10 schedule, which brings it to UD Arena most years. La Salle hosted Dayton in their only meeting this season. Ramon Galloway (17 points) and Tyreek Duren (15) spark the offense.



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