Oral Roberts players celebrate after the Summit League tournament championship NCAA college basketball game against North Dakota Stater Tuesday, March 7, 2023, in Sioux Falls, S.D. (AP Photo/Josh Jurgens)

March Madness: Four More Teams Punch Their Tickets to the Big Dance

Tuesday night was a big night for the little guys, as four teams from lesser-known conferences punched their tickets to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Gonzaga, Oral Roberts, Charleston and Northern Kentucky will all be dancing this year.


Gonzaga: West Coast Conference

The least surprising success of these four teams is Gonzaga.

Under Head Coach Mark Few, the Zags have dominated the West Coast Conference. They have appeared in the WCC title game in all 24 years Few has been coaching, and they have won the conference four years straight.


In the championship game against Saint Mary’s, forward Drew Timme scored 18 points, becoming Gonzaga’s all-time leading scorer.

The Zags won 77-51.


Additionally, they have had recent success on a national level, making it past the second round of the NCAA Tournament in seven of the last eight years.

Oral Roberts: Summit League Conference

Another team that has had recent success in the NCAA Tournament is Oral Roberts. In 2021, the Golden Eagles made it all the way to the Sweet 16 before barely losing to 3-seed Arkansas, 70-72.

It was a Cinderella-story run, but now they’re back to try to finish what they started.

ORU had a great run in the Summit tournament and a dominant 92-58 win over North Dakota State in the finals.

Charleston: Colonial Athletic Association

As a mid-major school, it is very difficult to earn an at-large bid from the tournament selection committee.

The College of Charleston Cougars (31-3) decided they did not want to leave their selection up to chance.

With a 63-58 win over UNC-Wilmington, the Cougars clinched the CAA and an automatic bid to the Big Dance.


Northern Kentucky: Horizon Conference

Perhaps the most surprising and least renowned team to clinch a bid Tuesday night was Northern Kentucky. The Norse have an underwhelming 22-12 overall record, and they play in a conference with a relatively low level of competition.

However, regular-season records are of little importance when March Madness commences on March 14.


Undecided Conferences

Conference tournaments are heating up, and over half of them are still undecided.

All of the Power 5 conferences will be played within the next week, so look out for the automatic bids from the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC.

About Steven Hieneman

Senior Sports Media/Business Administration dual major at the University of Florida, ESPN Gainesville WRUF sports correspondent.

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