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Bracket Bolster: Could Lipscomb surprise in March?

Lipscomb's nonconference schedule included a loss at Louisville. AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley

In the old days, when mid-majors didn't have to be perfect and the NCAA bracket wasn't bloated with mediocre power conference teams, a decent at-large case could be made for teams such as Lipscomb and conferences such as the Atlantic Sun.

The Bisons have a pair of "Grade A" road victories: against TCU, a near-lock NCAA tournament team, and SMU, more likely an NIT team but still very much top 100. And the A-Sun is creeping toward the top 20 in conference rankings after foundering in the bottom third of all leagues for much of the past decade.

The main sources of improvement are the dramatic nonconference successes of both Lipscomb and Liberty. The Bisons' pre-league mark of 9-4 is well-earned against the nation's No. 54 schedule. And Liberty, at 10-5, has played almost as well while also contributing quite recently to the firing of Steve Alford at UCLA.