Reaching the Southwestern Athletic Conference summit was not easy for Mississippi Valley State.

The Delta Devils (21-12) held off a furious second-half rally to beat Texas Southern 71-69  to secure their first outright conference title, and NCAA tournament berth since 2008.

Now what awaits Mississippi Valley State is a likely trip to the First Four in Dayton, Ohio against a similar No. 16 seeded foe for the right to take on one of the four No.1 seeds in the first round.

After filtering through the many bracketlogy predictions, the Delta Devils are projected to square off versus conference tournament champions that include the likes of Western Kentucky, Vermont, Detroit, Lamar or Norfolk State.

Here is a breakdown of each of the possible opponents:

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
Conference: Sun Belt
Record: 15-18

Western Kentucky began the season 5-11, resulting in the firing of then head coach Ken McDonald on Jan. 5.

Ray Harper was named the Hilltoppers’ interim coach, and they responded with a 3-6 start under their former assistant before closing the regular season with three wins in their last four games. The No. 7 seed won four games in four days, giving them six wins in a row and setting the stage for their unexpected return to the NCAAs.

Tournament History:8-22

2009 1-1Defeated Illinois in first round, 76-72
Lost to Gonzaga in second round, 83-81

2008 2-1Defeated Drake in first round, 101-99
Defeated San Diego in second round, 72-63
Lost to UCLA in regional semifinal, 88-78

2003 0-1Lost to Illinois in first round, 65-60

2002 0-1Lost to Stanford in first round, 84-68

2001 0-1Lost to Florida in first round, 69-56

1995 1-1Defeated Michigan in first round, 82-76
Lost to Kansas in second round, 75-70

Vermont
Conference: America East
Record: 23-11

Vermont’s last NCAA appearance was in 2010 and all of its bids have been since 2003.

John Becker became just the second first-year coach to win the conference title, joining Karl Fogel of Northeastern in 1986.

Tournament History: 1-4

2010 0-1Lost to Syracuse in first round, 79-56

2005 1-1Defeated Syracuse in first round, 60-57
Lost to Michigan State in second round, 72-61

2004 0-1Lost to Connecticut in first round, 70-53

2003 0-1Lost to Arizona in first round, 80-51

Detroit
Conference: Horizon
Record: 22-13

The last time Detroit played in an NCAA tournament game they knocked off heritage program UCLA in the first-round back in 1999.

Tournament History: 5-5

19991-1Defeated UCLA in first round, 56-53
Lost to Ohio State in second round, 75-44

1998 1-1Defeated St. John’s in first round, 66-64
Lost to Purdue in second round, 80-65

1979 0-1Lost to Lamar in first round, 95-87

1977 1-1Defeated Middle Tennessee State in second round, 93-76
Lost to Michigan in regional semifinal, 86-81

1962 0-1Lost to Western Kentucky in second round, 90-81

Lamar
Conference: Southland
Record: 23-11

Pat Knight, in his first season, led Lamar to its first 20-win campaign since 1988. The 23 victories are the most since the 1983-84 season. However, Knight will be most remembered for a post game rant chiding  his own players that immediately went viral after a loss to Stephen F. Austin on Feb. 22.

Tournament History: 5-5

2000 0-1Lost to Duke in first round, 82-55

1983 1-1Defeated Alabama in first round, 73-50
Lost to Villanova in second round, 60-58

1981 1-1Defeated Missouri in first round, 71-67
Lost to LSU in second round, 100-78

1980 2-1Defeated Weber State in first round, 87-86
Defeated Oregon State in second round, 81-77
Lost to Clemson in regional semifinal, 74-66

1979 1-1Defeated Detroit in first round, 95-87
Lost to Michigan State in second round, 95-64

Norfolk State
Conference: MEAC
Record: 23-11

Tournament History N/A

The Spartans head into the NCAA tournament for the first time with an RPI ranking of 132 and a schedule-strength rating of 308th. However, they did beat bubble team Drexel back in November.

The Associated Press contributed to this report



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