Florida Gulf Coast Eagles @ Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (6:40pm ET Tuesday, truTV)
The Eagles went into the Atlantic Sun tourney with the second-best record in the conference at just 8-6, but got hot at the right time and won three in a row, including the final, an 80-78 overtime stunner against Stetson. The 20-13 Eagles are led by junior forward Marc Eddy Norelia, who averaged 17.2 ppg and 9.2 rpg. In FGC’s only other tournament appearance in 2013, they upset second-seed Georgetown on their way to the Sweet 16, where they lost to the Florida Gators.
The Knights finished the regular season just 15-14, tied for second in the Northeast Conference, but beat number one-seed Wagner 87-79 to earn a ticket to the Big Dance. Sophomores Darian Anderson and Earl Potts, who’d led the team in scoring all season, stepped up once again in the final, scoring 28 and 27, respectively, to send FDU to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2005. The Knights are 0-4 in tournament play.
The winner gets to play the 28-6 North Carolina Tar Heels Thursday in the opening round as the number 16 seed in the East Regional.
Vanderbilt Commodores @ Wichita State Shockers (9pm ET Tuesday, truTV)
The Commodores started the season in the top 25 for the first five weeks before a 2-6 slide knocked them out of the national rankings. They still managed to go 18-13 and put together the third-best conference record in the SEC before suffering a first-round exit at the hands of an inferior Tennessee team, 67-65. Vandy had been down 12 at the half and fought all the way back to a 59-58 lead with 2:44 to play, but couldn’t make it stick. This is Vanderbilt’s first NCAA tourney since 2012 and they’re 10-13 in 13 previous appearances.
The Shockers were the Missouri Valley Conference regular season champs with a record of 16-2 (24-8 overall), but lost to Northern Iowa 57-52 on a night when neither team deserved to win as they shot a combined 39 for 115, including eight of 49 from three-point land. This is the Shockers fifth straight NCAA tournament, 14th overall, where they’ve gone 15-13 and made it as far as two Final Fours, most recently in 2013.
The winner goes on to play #15 Arizona (25-8, 12-6 in the Pac-12) Thursday in the South Regional opening round.