High-major (and some mid-major) teams have a luxury when it comes to scheduling flexibility: play a lot of good teams out of conference and lose, and those teams can make up for the losses in conference and build a profile deserving of an at-large NCAA Tournament berth. Mississippi Valley State didn't have that luxury, and endured a brutal non-conference slate, but turned things around in SWAC play to make the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
The Delta Devils began the 2011-12 season with a miserable 1-11 mark in non-conference play, with their lone win coming against Tennessee State and losses coming at the hands of Notre Dame, North Carolina, Florida, Wisconsin and Iowa State.
But that stretch likely only made MVSU tougher, and the Delta Devils dominated the SWAC, ripping off a 17-1 mark in conference that was only dented by Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the regular season finale and winning the SWAC Tournament to secure the conference's automatic NCAA Tournament bid.
As a No. 16 seed, MVSU will head to Dayton for a First Four matchup with Western Kentucky. Win that and the Delta Devils get to play No. 1 overall seed Kentucky in the Second Round.
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