Filling the Brackets

SI predicts the 45 automatic bids and at-large picks that will round out the tournament field
November 17, 2008

TEAM // CONFERENCE // RETURNING STARTERS // SKINNY

21 WAKE FOREST // ACC // 5 //
Trio of frontcourt freshmen—led by Al-Farouq Aminu, a 6'8" McDonald's All-American—will have the Demon Deacons dancing for first time since 2005.

22 WISCONSIN // BIG TEN // 3 //
Seniors Marcus Landry and Joe Krabbenhoft lead the nation's No. 1 defense (54.4 points a game) as Badgers aim for their third straight 30-win season.

23 BAYLOR // BIG 12 // 4 //
With four double-digit scorers returning from the Big 12's second-most prolific offense (but worst D), Bears should get back-to-back NCAA bids for first time.

24 USC // PAC-10 // 3 //
Forward Demar DeRozan, a 6'7" leaper and the Trojans' latest superfreshman, will have more talent alongside him than previous USC one-and-doner O.J. Mayo.

25 ST. MARY'S // WCC // 4 //
Aussie point guard Patrick Mills lit up Team USA with 20 points in Olympics, prompting Coach K to say, "I'm glad [Duke] doesn't play St. Mary's" this season.

26 KANSAS // BIG 12 // 0 //
Champs reload after losing five players to NBA; holdovers Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich will lead talented seven-man recruiting class.

27 FLORIDA // SEC // 4 //
Sophomore Nick Calathes, one of two players in the nation to average more than 15 points, five boards and six assists, headlines roster of 11 underclassmen.

28 UNLV // MWC // 3 //
Star guard Wink Adams will be joined by Memphis transfer Tre'Von Willis, who averaged 15.2 points and led Runnin' Rebs in assists on summer tour Down Under.

29 SIENA // MAAC // 5 //
Up-tempo Saints, paced by guard Kenny Hasbrouck, the league tournament MVP, prep for return to NCAAs with tune-ups against Tennessee, Pitt and Kansas.

30 SYRACUSE // BIG EAST // 4 //
Guards Eric Devendorf and Andy Rautins return from injury to help relieve sophomore Jonny Flynn, who averaged 39.2 minutes in league play.

31 TEMPLE // ATLANTIC 10 // 4 //
Oh Come Owl Ye Faithful: Dionte Christmas, two-time A-10 scoring champ, will help deliver second straight tournament bid to coach Fran Dunphy.

32 CLEMSON // ACC // 3 //
Do-it-all senior swingman K.C. Rivers leads the rising Tigers, who improved their RPI for the seventh straight year—from No. 168 in 2001--02 to No. 19.

33 XAVIER // ATLANTIC 10 // 2 //
Former Indiana signee Terrell Holloway will help fill void left by departed Drew Lavender and Stanley Burrell as X-Men win 20 for 12th time in 13 years.

34 LSU // SEC // 4 //
Pac-10 coach of the year Trent Johnson, late of Stanford, turns things around quickly on the Bayou thanks to healthy Tasmin Mitchell and experienced, athletic roster.

35 TEXAS A&M // BIG 12 // 3 //
If Josh Carter regains outside touch (38% from the arc, down from 50% in '06--07) and Donald Sloan shores up point, lock-down D will do its job.

36 VA. TECH // ACC // 4 //
Hokies, who have third-most ACC wins over last two seasons, bring back 81% of their scoring from last year, led by guard A.D. Vassallo (16.9 points a game).

37 KENTUCKY // SEC // 3 //
Five-star freshman guard DeAndre Liggins must mesh with a healthy Patrick Patterson up front as Wildcats chase their 18th straight NCAA tournament bid.

38 NEVADA // WAC // 2 //
McDonald's All-American Luke Babbitt decided to stay home in Reno and will help the Wolf Pack return to the NCAA tournament for the fifth time in six years.

39 ALABAMA // SEC // 2 //
Injury-plagued fifth-year senior Ronald Steele is finally healthy and will get welcome help from freshman big man JaMychal Green, a top SEC recruit.

40 VCU // CAA // 3 //
The Rams were fourth in the nation in field goal percentage defense; now, can the offense, led by Eric Maynor (17.9 points and 5.5 assists a game), keep up?

41 OKLAHOMA STATE // BIG 12 // 4 //
Travis Ford brings an up-tempo attack from UMass to a team heavy on shooters but weak inside. Look for a Big 12 rarity—a four-guard lineup.

42 CREIGHTON // MISSOURI VALLEY // 3 //
Five Bluejays won at least one MVC newcomer of the week award last year. One—6'3" guard P'Allen Stinnett—is league POY candidate.

43 TULSA // C-USA // 3 //
Potent inside-out duo of 7-footer Jerome Jordan (3.7 blocks a game) and Ben Uzoh (15.6 ppg), and tough schedule, will earn Golden Hurricane at-large bid.

44 OHIO STATE // BIG TEN // 2 //
Buckeyes backcourt is strong, but they need latest star freshman big man—7'1" B.J. Mullens—to be more Greg Oden than Kosta Koufos.

45 SAN DIEGO // WCC // 5 //
Five starters, led by Gyno Pomare and Brandon Johnson, return for a team that beat Kentucky, St. Mary's and Gonzaga, and then upset UConn in the NCAAs.

46 WASHINGTON // PAC-10 // 3 //
Rebounding machine Jon Brockman gets lift from addition of flashy freshman guard Isaiah Thomas (so named because his dad says he lost a bet).

47 BYU // MWC // 2 //
League co--player of the year Lee Cummard leads a program that has the nation's longest home-court winning streak (47) but 0--5 record in NCAAs since 1993.

48 MINNESOTA // BIG TEN // 2 //
Tubby Smith has landed a talented recruiting class in his second season in Minneapolis, headlined by Ralph Sampson III.

49 OLE MISS // SEC // 3 //
Sub-6-foot guard Chris Warren led the Rebels in scoring, assists and minutes as a freshman and will get Ole Miss back to NCAAs after two straight NITs.

50 CLEVELAND STATE // HORIZON // 4 //
Behind league's top two players—forward J'Nathan Bullock and guard Cedric Jackson—Vikings went from 21 losses to 21 wins in a year.

51 CAL STATE--NORTHRIDGE // BIG WEST // 2 //
Matadors welcome back league's top rebounder, Tremaine Townsend (9.8 per game), and top assist man, Josh Jenkins (6.4).

52 MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE // SUN BELT // 5 //
Blue Raiders, led by junior forward Desmond Yates (16.0 ppg), have top six scorers back from team that went to conference title game.

53 KENT STATE // MAC // 3 //
The Golden Flashes add talented and controversial guard Tyree Evans, a juco transfer who was a coveted recruit before being convicted of three crimes.

54 AMERICAN // PATRIOT // 3 //
Eagles went to their first NCAAs in '08 and will make it back with smallish backcourt of Garrison Carr and Derrick Mercer (a combined 30.8 ppg).

55 CORNELL // IVY // 3 //
Big Red, which won first outright Ivy title in 20 years, will miss guard Adam Gore (torn ACL), but league player of the year Louis Dale has enough help for repeat.

56 VERMONT // AMERICA EAST // 4 //
Michigan State transfer Maurice Joseph joins junior Marqus Blakely, nation's only returning player to average at least 19 points, 11 boards.

57 GARDNER-WEBB // BIG SOUTH // 4 //
Bulldogs, late of Atlantic Sun Conference, will stun new league with backcourt of Grayson Flittner (15.3 ppg) and Aaron Linn (12.5).

58 TENNESSEE-MARTIN // OHIO VALLEY // 4 //
Lester Hudson, who dropped 35 points on Memphis and 36 on Vandy last season, will lead Skyhawks to first NCAA tournament.

59 BELMONT // ATLANTIC SUN // 4 //
Bruins' relentless three-point attack (36.5%), which almost upset Duke in NCAAs, has quartet of seniors seeking fourth straight bid.

60 STEPHEN F. AUSTIN // SOUTHLAND // 4 //
Conference player of the year Josh Alexander and center Matt Kingsley pace a veteran team that racked up a school-record 26 wins.

61 NORTH DAKOTA STATE // SUMMIT // 5 //
In first year of Division I tournament eligibility, guard Ben Woodside and forward Brett Winkelman (combined 39.9 ppg) lead Bison.

62 JACKSON STATE // SWAC // 4 //
Coach Tevester Anderson, 71, has SWAC preseason player of the year Grant Maxey and veteran crew that missed NCAAs by 0.4 of a second last season.

63 MOUNT ST. MARY'S // NORTHEAST // 4 //
Diminutive point guard Jeremy Goode directs a fast-paced attack as The Mount becomes first NEC champ to repeat in 14 years.

64 PORTLAND STATE // BIG SKY // 3 //
League MVP Jeremiah Dominguez will be joined by talented transfers Phil Nelson (Washington) and Dominic Waters (Hawaii).

65 MORGAN STATE // MEAC // 2 //
Former Cal coach Todd Bozeman directs these Bears to the NCAAs, too, thanks to Cal transfer Marquise Kately and a strong incoming class.

PHOTOBOB ROSATOSWAT TEAM Krabbenhoft (45) and a suffocating defense have Wisconsin set to secure its 11th straight tournament bid.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)