FILLING THE BRACKETS

SI PICKS THE 48 TEAMS THAT WILL JOIN THE TOP 20 IN THE BIG DANCE NEXT MARCH
November 14, 2011

TEAM / CONFERENCE / RETURNING STARTERS

21 MARQUETTE / BIG EAST / 2

All-namer Vander Blue will support tandem of SG Darius Johnson-Odom and forward Jae Crowder as Golden Eagles return to the Big Dance.

22 MICHIGAN / BIG TEN / 4

Point guard is the only question mark as Tim Hardaway Jr. and Zack Novak lead veteran squad to first winning Big Ten record since 2003.

23 CALIFORNIA / PAC-12 / 4

Do-it-all senior guard Jorge Gutierrez (14.6 ppg, 4.5 apg) is Bears' emotional leader, and Cal's starting five is as good as any in the Pac-12.

24 MISSOURI / BIG 12 / 4

New coach Frank Haith will slow pace. Injury to Laurence Bowers hurts, but Big 12's leading returning scorer, Marcus Denmon (16.9 ppg) returns.

25 MICHIGAN STATE / BIG TEN / 2

McDonald's All-American Branden Dawson and Valpo transfer Brandon Wood get Sparty back on track after ugly 2010--11.

26 WASHINGTON / PAC-12 / 2

Return of Abdul Gaddy (torn ACL) and addition of freshman Tony Wroten give Pac-12's highest-scoring team a dynamic backcourt.

27 TEXAS A&M / BIG 12 / 3

In Big 12 farewell, talented Aggies will have to overcome uncertain status of new coach Billy Kennedy as he battles Parkinson's.

28 VIRGINIA / ACC / 4

Powerful Mike Scott returns from ankle injury, and impact freshmen join experienced roster to get Tony Bennett his first NCAA bid with Cavs.

29 TEMPLE / A-10 / 4

PG Juan Fernandez and SG Ramone Moore headline a starting five that features four seniors, as Owls will go dancing for the fifth straight season.

30 PURDUE / BIG TEN / 3

Rebuilding Boilermakers are hoping hard-luck senior forward Robbie Hummel can return to All--Big Ten form after two ACL surgeries.

31 VILLANOVA / BIG EAST / 2

Maalik Wayns is in line to be 'Nova's next great go-to guard—but he'll need help to erase bitter taste of Wildcats' 2011 late-season collapse.

32 OKLAHOMA STATE / BIG 12 / 1

With SF Le'Bryan Nash, a McDonald's All-American, coach Travis Ford will have Cowboys running like his UMass teams used to.

33 BYU / WCC / 3

Life after Jimmer begins in a new league with forwards Brandon Davies and Noah Hartock and enough talented freshmen to secure sixth straight NCAA bid.

34 MISSISSIPPI STATE / SEC / 2

UTEP transfer Arnett Moultrie and Renardo Sidney will make an imposing frontcourt—if Sidney can finally fulfill his vast potential.

35 CREIGHTON / MVC / 3

Jays end four-year NCAA drought thanks to coach's son Doug McDermott (14.9 ppg, 7.2 rpg) and Gregory Echenique (10.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg).

36 GONZAGA / WCC / 2

NCAA return is likely, but a 12th straight WCC title is in jeopardy with inexperienced backcourt and presence of league newcomer BYU.

37 DETROIT / HORIZON / 5

Titans' entire eight-man rotation returns, led by Horizon POY candidate PG Ray McCallum Jr. (13.5 ppg), son of the head coach.

38 UNLV / MWC / 4

New coach Dave Rice will put the run back in Runnin' Rebels and has the talent (swingman Chace Stanback and PG Oscar Bellfield) to win the MWC.

39 WEST VIRGINIA / BIG EAST / 2

Mountaineers will lean on seniors PG Truck Bryant and PF Kevin Jones as Bob Huggins makes it five tourneys in five years at W.Va.

40 WICHITA STATE / MVC / 3

NIT champs return five of top six scorers, including senior SG Toure' Murry (9.4 ppg), who is preseason All-MVC first team.

41 GEORGE MASON / CAA / 3

Do-it-all PF Ryan Pearson (14.4 ppg) leads Patriots as they try to replace their leading scorer (Cam Long) and coach (Jim Larranaga).

42 NEW MEXICO / MWC / 4

Steve Alford welcomes back two of the best players in the league—PF Drew Gordon (10.5 rpg) and SG Kendall Williams (42.6% 3FG).

43 CENTRAL FLORIDA / CUSA / 3

Leading scorer SG Marcus Jordan (15.2 ppg)—son of Michael—will be joined by brother PG Jeff, who transferred from Illinois.

44 TEXAS / BIG 12 / 0

Rick Barnes must start over again after another NBA exodus, but backcourt—led by junior J'Covan Brown—is in very capable hands.

45 DREXEL / CAA / 4

Six of top seven scorers are back, including double double machine PF Samme Givens, for a team that must improve its 61.6% FT shooting.

46 BELMONT / ATLANTIC SUN / 4

Nation's leader in scoring margin (17.5) in 2011 brings back 10 players who averaged at least 10 minutes per game.

47 BUTLER / HORIZON / 2

The magical Brad Stevens must rebuild, with forward Khyle Marshall (51.1% FG), SG Chrishawn Hopkins and veteran PG Ronald Nored.

48 NEVADA / WAC / 5

In farewell to WAC, Pack features transfers from Indiana (SG Malik Story) and Duke (PF Olek Czyz), plus preseason WAC POY Deonte Burton (13.7 ppg).

49 OREGON / PAC-12 / 3

Former Wake big man Tony Woods fortifies frontcourt, while freshman SG Jabari Brown led the Ducks in scoring on preseason tour in Italy.

50 SAINT LOUIS / A-10 / 5

After yearlong suspension, stud PG Kwamain Mitchell (15.9 ppg in '09--10) returns to experienced team that will send Rick Majerus back to NCAAs.

51 NORTHWESTERN / BIG TEN / 4

Wildcats make history with first NCAA bid thanks to veteran frontcourt of John Shurna (16.6 ppg), Luka Mirkovic and Drew Crawford.

52 INDIANA STATE / MVC / 4

Defending MVC tourney champs feature brash PG Jake Odum, senior SG Dwayne Lathan and a deep rotation that's committed to defense.

53 HARVARD / IVY / 5

Five double-digit scorers return, led by Ivy POY Keith Wright and PG Brandyn Curry (Ivy-best 5.9 apg), giving Crimson first NCAA berth since 1946.

54 AUSTIN PEAY / OVC / 4

PF Anthony Campbell, a starter in '09--10, returns from knee injury to team with SG TyShwan Edmondson (17.1 ppg) to form nice one-two punch.

55 WEBER STATE / BIG SKY / 3

PG Damian Lillard, the '09--10 Big Sky MVP, returns after season lost to broken foot to join a rotation featuring two All--Big Sky first-teamers.

56 IONA / MAAC / 3

PG Scott Machado, the nation's top returning assist-man (7.6), PF Mike Glover (18.4 ppg) and Arizona transfer PG Lamont Jones get Gaels back to dance.

57 CENTRAL CONN. STATE / NORTHEAST / 4

After leading league in scoring and blocks, PF Ken Horton, the NEC POY, will get perimeter help from freshman PG Malcolm McMillan.

58 CHATTANOOGA / SOUTHERN / 4

SG Omar Wattad (14.3 ppg) and PG Keegan Bell (5.7 apg) lead veteran squad that leans heavily on the trey (46% of its attempts were threes).

59 KENT STATE / MAC / 4

Golden Flashes return the league's POY (PF Justin Greene), defensive POY (PG Michael Porrini) and sixth man of the year (Carlton Guyton).

60 ORAL ROBERTS / SUMMIT / 5

Four players who averaged at least 12 ppg, led by POY candidate SF Dominique Morrison, are back for team that won 10 of final 12 games.

61 LONG BEACH STATE / BIG WEST / 4

Senior-heavy team led by PG Casper Ware (Big West POY, 17.2 ppg) finally earns NCAA bid after losing Big West final last two years.

62 BOSTON UNIVERSITY / AMERICA EAST / 4

Back-to-back NCAA trips for Terriers for first time as PF Jake O'Brien returns from broken foot to complement guard Darryl Partin.

63 BUCKNELL / PATRIOT / 4

Patriot POY Mike Muscala and defensive POY Bryan Cohen lead experienced, sharp-shooting Bison (40.0% 3FG) to second straight tourney.

64 UNC-ASHEVILLE / BIG SOUTH / 4

Addition of stud recruit SG Keith Hornsby—son of Bruce—helps make Bulldogs the league favorites. That's just the way it is.

65 FLORIDA ATLANTIC / SUN BELT / 4

Mike Jarvis becomes the ninth coach to lead four schools to NCAA tourney thanks to guard-heavy lineup led by 5'6" PG Raymond Taylor.

66 LAMAR / SOUTHLAND / 4

Pat Knight does what he couldn't at Texas Tech—reach the NCAAs—thanks to senior backcourt of Mike James and Anthony Miles (40.0% 3FG).

67 MORGAN STATE / MEAC / 5

Thanks to big man Kevin Thompson, Bears make it three NCAAs in four years—and may get Todd Bozeman a second chance at a big program.

68 MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE / SWAC / 4

Improving Delta Devils feature four senior starters, who must survive a schedule that opens with 11 games away from home.

PHOTODAVID E. KLUTHOSOLID GOLDEN EAGLE With the sharp-shooting Johnson-Odom (15.8 points per game) leading the way, Marquette will earn its seventh consecutive NCAA tournament berth.