NCAA basketball news Three players from France took part in "Selection Monday"
With the conference tournaments completed all the college basketball news media outlets focused on "ESPN Selection Monday" tv show and NCAA tournament brackets.
The easiest way for universities to qualify for the Big Dance is to win the conference title which is referred to an automatic bid.
In total 30 schools have qualified in this manner, while 1 Ivy League representative comes from the team that wins the regular season title.
The remaining 33 places are decided by a committee that uses a number of tools to select the qualifiers and then on the ESPN Monday show, the suspense reaches it climax when the final brackets are made with players and fans all over the country watching to see the teams drawn and the regional groupings. (There are four regions with 16 teams seeded 1 to 16.)
For the schools who expected to qualify or who had already an automatic bid, the "Selection Monday" party is a big event usually in front of the big screens.
This year three French players joined the party: Nina Déal, Melisa Mendes and Allison Vernerey
Allison Vernerey dances again in March
Duke missed out on the ACC title this year and hence had to leave their fate to the committee. However as ACC regular season winners and 6th best team of the season it was unlikely for Duke to miss out on their 18th successive trip to the finals.
Duke (24-5) picked up a number two seed for the tournament and have been drawn against Samford (20-12), the number 15 seeds.
The first round game will be played on Sunday, 18 March 2012 at the Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville, Tennessee.
For Allison Vernerey (in picture) this is her third trip to the finals. In her first two seasons Duke had been eliminated during the elite 8 (quarter-final).
Vernerey will be looking to match Aurélie Noirez, the first French player to win the NCAA Tournament in 2006.
Melisa Mendes has just one chance
For the followers of our youth international basketball news section the names of Baiba Eglite and Anete Steinberga both from Latvia should be familiar.
However Melisa Mendes (in picture in orange) is a newcomer to us although she had been an active youth player with Villeneuve d'Ascq. She had also played for her home town club Evreux as well as for Nice Côte d'Azur Basket before crossing over the Atlantic.
The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) have qualified for the Big Dance for only the second time in their history (2007 the first time).
This season the UTEP Miners compiled a 29-3 record and were seeded 13th for the NCAA tournament. They face number 4 seed and nationally ranked Penn State on Sunday, 18 March 2012.
Mendes started the season as a junior after two years at junior college but ends it as a senior. So this will be her only chance of dancing in March.
Nina Déal takes in the atmosphere of March Madness
Nina Déal (in picture) is experiencing the success of her team as a practice player.
Delaware University (the Blue Hens) have just lost once this season while winning 30 games. However this is only the third time in the school's history that they have qualified for the NCAA tournament.
They will face Arkansas Little Rock in their first round game.
Elena Delle Donne is the star of the team and the nation's leading scorer who is going into the final with an average of 27.5 points per game.