The Washington Times - March 6, 2012, 12:37AM

The upshot of Monday’s action on the projected field of 68, in no particular order …

* Loyola locked up its first NCAA bid since 1994. Whether the Greyhounds remain a No. 14 seed depends on whether upsets occur in places like the Horizon and Patriot Leagues and the Mid-American Conference.

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* Speaking of which, the typical havoc of March MACtion was in full effect, with upsets in the 5-12 and 6-11 games. The league has some protection for top seeds – Akron and Buffalo got byes to the final – but weird things happen in that conference.

* Virginia Commonwealth locked up an automatic bid while fending off Drexel in the Colonial final. It will be a comfortable Sunday for the Rams. As for Bruiser Flint’s Dragons, their profile makes them a borderline (at best) possibility for an at-large bid. They need chalky conference tournaments with bubblers losing as quickly as possible.

* The Sun Belt winner can go ahead and book its itinerary to Dayton. Both North Texas and Western Kentucky have RPI figures around 200.

* Saint Mary’s outlasted Gonzaga to win the West Coast Conference. That should put the Gaels on the No. 5 or No. 6 line – and further help Murray State, which beat Saint Mary’s last month, do the same.

* Another top seed in a one-bid league fell, with Oral Roberts stumbling and giving South Dakota State the inside track to the Summit League crown. The Golden Eagles join Middle Tennessee as an NIT AQ, with Drexel and Iona also possibilities to be locked into the 32-team field.

* Davidson is back in the tournament for the first time in four years. And yes, the Wildcats will create a ton of misery for some poor No. 4 or No. 5 seed.

EAST REGION

Pittsburgh

(1) BIG EAST/Syracuse vs. (16) BIG SOUTH/UNC Asheville
(8) Iowa State vs. (9) Virginia

Portland

(4) ATLANTIC 10/Temple vs. (13) Northwestern/Iona
(5) MOUNTAIN WEST/San Diego State vs. Mississippi State

Omaha

(3) Missouri vs. (14) METRO ATLANTIC/Loyola
(6) Wichita State vs. (11) COLONIAL/Virginia Commonwealth

Louisville

(2) Ohio State vs. (15) PATRIOT/Bucknell
(7) Notre Dame vs. (10) Brigham Young

SOUTH REGION

Louisville

(1) SOUTHEASTERN/Kentucky vs. (16) MID-EASTERN/Savannah State-AMERICA EAST/Stony Brook
(8) CONFERENCE USA/Memphis vs. (9) Kansas State

Portland

(4) Wisconsin vs. (13) WESTERN ATHLETIC/Nevada
(5) Florida State vs. (12) South Florida

Albuquerque

(3) Baylor vs. (14) MID-AMERICAN/Akron
(6) OHIO VALLEY/Murray State vs. (11) Colorado State

Columbus

(2) Marquette vs. (15) HORIZON/Valparaiso
(7) Gonzaga vs. (10) Saint Louis

MIDWEST REGION

Omaha

(1) BIG 12/Kansas  vs. (16) SOUTHWESTERN/Mississippi Valley-SUN BELT/North Texas
(8) Purdue vs. (9) Cincinnati

Albuquerque

(4) Vanderbilt vs. (13) PAC-12/Washington
(5) UNLV vs. (12) BIG WEST/Long Beach State

Pittsburgh

(3) Michigan vs. (14) ATLANTIC SUN/Belmont
(6) WEST COAST/Saint Mary’s vs. (11) West Virginia

Greensboro

(2) Duke vs. (15) BIG SKY/Montana
(7) Louisville vs. (10) Southern Mississippi

WEST REGION

Greensboro

(1) ATLANTIC COAST/North Carolina vs. (16) NORTHEAST/Long Island
(8) Alabama vs. (9) Connecticut

Nashville

(4) Indiana vs (13) SOUTHERN/Davidson
(5) MISSOURI VALLEY/Creighton vs. (12) Texas/Xavier

Nashville

(3) Georgetown vs. (14) SUMMIT/South Dakota State
(6) Florida vs. (11) California

Columbus

(2) BIG TEN/Michigan State vs. (15) SOUTHLAND/Texas-Arlington
(7) New Mexico vs. (10) IVY/Harvard

Last four in: Texas, Xavier, Iona, Northwestern
On the doorstep: Seton Hall, Drexel, Miami, Oregon
Next four out: N.C. State, Dayton, Mississippi, Arizona

Conference call: Big East (9), Big Ten (7), Big 12 (6), Southeastern (5), Atlantic Coast (4), Mountain West (4), Atlantic 10 (3), West Coast (3), Conference USA (2), Metro Atlantic (2), Missouri Valley, Pac-12 (2)

Patrick Stevens