NCAA Basketball: Top 10 teams who missed the Big Dance in 2018 but will return in 2019

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NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 01: Brad Davison

Nearly 300 NCAA Basketball schools missed out on the NCAA Tournament this past season. Who are the likeliest bets to return as an at-large?

There were 36 at-large teams in last season’s NCAA Tournament, with three coming from the mid-major ranks. That still left a bunch of power conference teams out of the Big Dance, with many going back to the drawing boards to put together a good enough of a team.

But this past season’s NIT Tournament showed that there are several teams ready to make the leap on to the biggest stage, planning on taking spots away from those who take a step back. Unfortunately for mid-majors, there doesn’t seem any that look like a true at-large team outside of Gonzaga and Nevada. And they’re heavy favorites to win their respective conference tournaments. So this list will be “power conference” heavy.

Before I get to my top-10, here are some that can make the 2019 NCAA Tournament, but questions remain.

Memphis Tigers 21-13 (10-8)

The team will bring back their top four scorers, and should make a play for the top of the AAC ladder. My only reservation is Penny Hardaway, the new head coach of Memphis. He’s already shown to be a great recruiter, but the X’s and O’s part of the job has yet to begun.

Penn State Nittany Lions 26-13 (9-9)

Had star guard Tony Carr elected to stay for another year, Penn State would’ve been a preseason top-25 team for next year. His departure hurts, but the trio of Lamar Stevens, Josh Reaves, and Mike Watkins are capable of making a run in the Big Ten.

Minnesota Gophers 15-17 (4-14)

If the pattern of Richard Pitino’s teams continues, then the Gophers will be a Sweet Sixteen team next year. Double-double machine Jordan Murphy will return, and hopefully for them the off-season drama doesn’t. There’s good talent coming back for Minnesota, they just have to prove it.

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