Who’s in the NCAA Midwest Regional with Georgia Tech?

Georgia Tech guard Jose Alvarado (10) celebrates the 84-77 win over Syracuse Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021, at McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

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Georgia Tech guard Jose Alvarado (10) celebrates the 84-77 win over Syracuse Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021, at McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Georgia Tech, who earned an automatic bid with a stunning ACC Tournament title, will face March darling Loyola Chicago — the No. 8 seed — in the Midwest Regional Friday in Indianapolis.

Should the Jackets advance, they almost certainly would play No. 1 seed Illinois, the Big Ten champion at 23-6, on Sunday. The Illini’s first-round game is against No. 16 seed Drexel, which won the Colonial Athletic Association and is 12-7.

Find out more about the Midwest Regional first-round matchups:

1:15 p.m., Friday, March 18 (TBS) - (16) Drexel vs. (1) Illinois

1- Illinois Fighting Illini (23-6)

Coach: Brad Underwood.

Conference: Big Ten.

Tournament History: 40-31, 5 Final Fours in 30 appearances.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to Miami in the Second Round.

The Skinny: No. 3 Illinois claimed its first Big Ten Tournament title since 2005 by topping No. 9 Ohio State. Illinois has won seven straight, six in a row over top-10 foes and 14 of its last 15. The Illini are big, fast and strong and a legitimate national title contender. Kofi Cockburn and Ayo Dosunmu both scored 16 points, both grabbed nine rebounds and both made key plays in overtime against the Buckeyes.

16- Drexel Dragons (12-7)

Coach: Zach Spiker.

Conference: Colonial.

Tournament History: 1-4 in 4 appearances.

Last appearance: 1996, lost to Syracuse in the Second Round.

The Skinny: The sixth-seeded Dragons came into the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament with a near-.500 record before winning three games by single digits and making 29 of 51 of their 3-point tries. The Dragons are headed to their first NCAA Tournament in 25 years, one of two Philadelphia-areas City 6 schools to do so, along with Villanova. Tournament most outstanding player Camren Wynter leads Drexel in scoring, shooting 41.6 percent from 3-point range.

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4 p.m. Friday (TBS) - (9) Georgia Tech vs. (8) Loyola Chicago

8- Loyola Chicago Ramblers (24-4)

Coach: Porter Moser.

Conference: Missouri Valley.

Tournament History: 13-5, 2 Final Fours, and 1 National Championship in 6 appearances.

Last appearance: 2018, lost to Michigan in the Final Four.

The Skinny: The Ramblers return to the tournament for the first time since they and their team chaplain, Sister Jean, captivated the nation with their run to the Final Four. Loyola won the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament to secure a bid, but wouldn’t have needed it after a solid 24-4 season. They’ll bring the nation’s top scoring defense and perhaps also Sister Jean, now 101 years old, who has made it clear she wants to come to the dance, too.

9- Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (17-8)

Coach: Josh Pastner.

Conference: Atlantic Coast.

Tournament History: 23-16, 2 Final Fours in 16 appearances.

Last appearance: 2010, lost to Ohio St. in the Second Round.

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Yellow Jackets' recent history in the NCAA Tournament.

The Skinny: Don’t shortchange the Yellow Jackets for the fact Virginia withdrew from the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament due to COVID-19 protocols. The ACC champs went 2-1 against Florida State and set a conference tourney record with 15 steals against the Seminoles in the championship game. Walking in the footsteps of New York City’s point guards past, Jose Alvarado fills the bill with a 2-to-1 assists to turnover ratio, an average of just under three steals per game and seldom comes out of the game for rest.

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4:30 p.m. Friday (TNT) - (12) Oregon St. vs. (5) Tennessee

5- Tennessee Volunteers (18-8)

Coach: Rick Barnes.

Conference: Southeastern.

Tournament History: 22-23 in 22 appearances.

Last appearance: 2019, lost to Purdue in the Sweet Sixteen.

The Skinny: The Volunteers will be making their third straight NCAA Tournament appearance and 23rd all-time after falling to eventual champion Alabama 73-68. Tennessee is led by the SEC All-Freshman tandem of Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson, the Vols’ top scorers. The Vols will be hoping for the return of John Fulkerson, a senior forward who started all but one game this season until floored with an elbow to the head in a quarterfinal win over Florida.

12- Oregon State Beavers (17-12)

Coach: Wayne Tinkle.

Conference: Pac-12.

Tournament History: 10-17, 2 Final Fours in 14 appearances.

Last appearance: 2016, lost to VCU in the First Round.

The Skinny: Picked to finish last in the Pac-12, Oregon State won three games in three days to become a conference champion for the first time, ending a four-year NCAA Tournament drought. Coach Wayne Tinkle’s team clawed their way out of a 16-point hole to beat UCLA in an opener, upended top-seeded Oregon in the semifinals and kept Colorado from its first tournament title since 2012. It was the Beavers’ first conference title game in 33 years, marking the first Pac-10/12 team to win the championship after being picked to finish last.

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6:25 p.m. Friday (TBS) - (13) Liberty vs. (4) Oklahoma State

4- Oklahoma State Cowboys (20-8)

Coach: Mike Boynton.

Conference: Big 12.

Tournament History: 38-27, 6 Final Fours, and 2 National Championships in 28 appearances.

Last appearance: 2017, lost to Michigan in the First Round.

The Skinny: The Cowboys return to the NCAA Tournament for the 29th time with a No. 4 seed, their best since 2005, after reaching the Big 12 title game before losing to Texas 91-86. They are led by freshman conference player of the year Cade Cunningham, the probable No. 1 pick in the next NBA Draft. He’s been an all-everything talent while guiding the Oklahoma State attack with a team-best 20.2 points per game.

13- Liberty Flames (23-5)

Coach: Ritchie McKay.

Conference: Atlantic Sun.

Tournament History: 1-4 in 4 appearances.

Last appearance: 2019, lost to Virginia Tech in the Second Round.

The Skinny: The Flames have won 12 in a row, the fourth-longest active winning streak in the nation, and became the first team in ASUN history to win the regular season and conference tournament titles in three consecutive seasons. Coach Ritchie McKay, who left Liberty after setting the program’s then-Division I record for wins (23) in 2008-09 to join Randy Bennett’s staff at Virginia, went back to Lynchburg after the Flames went 8-24 under Dale Layer in 2014-15. After going 13-19 in McKay’s first year back (2015-16), they have won at least 20 games in five consecutive seasons. This season, Liberty ranks in the top-20 nationally in 11 statistical categories, including scoring defense (59.6, No. 3), fewest turnovers per game (9.7, No. 5), and scoring margin (plus-15.2, No. 7).

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9:40 p.m. Friday (CBS) - (11) Syracuse vs. (6) San Diego State

6- San Diego State Aztecs (23-4)

Coach: Brian Dutcher.

Conference: Mountain West.

Tournament History: 6-12 in 12 appearances.

Last appearance: 2018, lost to Houston in the First Round.

The Skinny: The 19th-ranked Aztecs are on a roll after their 14th straight win, s 68-57 victory over Utah State in the Mountain West Tournament championship game. That’s the third-longest active win streak. Tournament MVP Matt Mitchell and all-tournament pick Jordan Schakel have been part of four conference titles: two regular-season and two tournaments. As one would expect, the Aztecs are top ten in scoring defense.

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Georgia Tech forward Khalid Moore (12) shoots in the second half against Syracuse Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021, at McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta. Tech won 84-77. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Georgia Tech forward Khalid Moore (12) shoots in the second half against Syracuse Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021, at McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta. Tech won 84-77. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

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Georgia Tech forward Khalid Moore (12) shoots in the second half against Syracuse Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021, at McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta. Tech won 84-77. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

11- Syracuse Orange (16-9)

Coach: Jim Boeheim.

Conference: Atlantic Coast.

Tournament History: 64-36, 6 Final Fours, and 1 National Championship in 36 appearances.

Last appearance: 2019, lost to Baylor in the First Round.

The Skinny: Syracuse had a chance to take some of the stress out of Selection Sunday with a win over top-seeded Virginia in the ACC Tournament, but the Cavaliers prevailed 72-69 on Reece Beekman’s 3-pointer at the buzzer. Beekman was 0 for 5 from the field prior to that. Buddy Boeheim finished with a career-high 31 points against the Cavaliers, a day after he scored 27 in a tournament opener. The Orange entered conference tournament week near the cut line in most NCAA projections, though a win against North Carolina State helped that case.

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9:50 p.m. Friday (truTV) - (14) Morehead State vs. (3) West Virginia

3- West Virginia Mountaineers (18-9)

Coach: Bob Huggins.

Conference: Big 12.

Tournament History: 31-29, 2 Final Fours in 29 appearances.

Last appearance: 2018, lost to Villanova in the Sweet Sixteen.

The Skinny: Having lost three of its last four to end the season is far from the end of the world, especially in the stout Big 12. It just could be the Mountaineers need a minute to regroup. In West Virginia’s favor is that it enters the tournament averaging 77.3 points per contest. After hitting an average of 82 per game in the 2016-17 season that figure has gone down (79.6, 73.1. 70.3).

14- Morehead State Eagles (23-7)

Coach: Preston Spradlin.

Conference: Ohio Valley.

Tournament History: 6-8 in 7 appearances.

Last appearance: 2011, lost to Richmond the Second Round.

The Skinny: After stumbling to a 4-6 start, the Eagles have won seven in a row and 19 of their last 20 as 6-foot-10 freshman Johni Broome a first-team all-OVC selection. Morehead State beat back-to-back regular-season conference, and 2020 tournament champion Belmont in the finale to snap a nine-game skid against the Bruins and then again in the title game. Broome is averaging 17.7 points, 12.1 rebounds and 2.2 blocks with eight double-doubles in the last 11 games.

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9:20 p.m. Friday (TBS) - (10) Rutgers vs. (7) Clemson

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Clemson head coach Brad Brownell instructs guard Al-Amir Dawes during an 83-65 upset loss to Georgia Tech Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2021, at McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Clemson head coach Brad Brownell instructs guard Al-Amir Dawes during an 83-65 upset loss to Georgia Tech Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2021, at McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

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Clemson head coach Brad Brownell instructs guard Al-Amir Dawes during an 83-65 upset loss to Georgia Tech Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2021, at McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

7- Clemson Tigers (16-7)

Coach: Brad Brownell.

Conference: Atlantic Coast.

Tournament History: 9-11 in 11 appearances.

Last appearance: 2018, lost to Kansas in the Sweet Sixteen.

The Skinny: Historically momentum tends to be important this time of year. In the midst of the pandemic, it’s hard to know what the Tigers have going or don’t right now. To end the season Clemson won three straight, had two canceled then lost two of its last three. With only one double-digit scorer in Aamir Simms, the Tigers are going to need more offensive input to make a lasting presence.

10- Rutgers Scarlet Knights (15-11)

Coach: Steve Pikiell.

Conference: Big Ten.

Tournament History: 5-7, 1 Final Four in 6 appearances.

Last appearance: 1991, lost to Arizona State in the First Round.

The Skinny: With their first NCAA Tournament selection in 30 years, the Scarlet Knights realize an accomplishment they have been building up to for years. Now, the question turns to whether they can get the first tournament win since 1983. During the Big Ten regular season grind, Rutgers demonstrated that it could play with anyone, most notably a 91-88 win against Illinois in December. But effort will be the key as the Scarlet Knights were outrebounded 44-19 by the same Illini in their 90-68 loss in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals.

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7:15 p.m. Friday (truTV) - (15) Cleveland State vs. (2) Houston

2- Houston Cougars (24-3)

Coach: Kelvin Sampson.

Conference: American Athletic.

Tournament History: 29-26, 5 Final Fours in 21 appearances.

Last appearance: 2019, lost to Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen.

The Skinny: With a 91-54 win over Cincinnati in the championship game, the Cougars asserted American Athletic Conference dominance after losing to the Bearcats in the last two championship games in 2018 and 2019. Quentin Grimes was the AAC Player of the Year as well as the tournament’s most outstanding player. The AAC Defensive Player of the Year, DeJon Jarreau, had a triple-double in the quarterfinals win against Tulane. Houston has the top field-goal percentage defense in the nation at 37.5%.

15- Cleveland State Vikings (19-7)

Coach: Dennis Gates.

Conference: Horizon.

Tournament History: 3-2 in 2 appearances.

Last appearance: 2009, lost to Arizona in the Second Round.

The Skinny: Cleveland State, which finished tied atop the regular-season standings, came into the Horizon League Tournament as the No. 1 seed and won three games to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009 when it scored an upset as a 13-seed over Wake Forest. Torrey Patton had double-doubles in all three tournament wins and Tre Gomillion had two. Patton, the team’s leading scorer, is one of eight JC transfers on the roster.