- Northern Iowa has qualified for the NCAA Tournament by winning the Missouri Valley championship.
- Davidson was eliminated in the Southern Conference semifinals by the College of Charleston.
- After semifinal rounds yesterday, finals are set in seven leagues: the CAA (George Mason vs. Virginia Commonwealth), America East (UMBC vs. Binghamton), Northeast (Robert Morris vs. Mount Saint Mary's), Patriot League (American vs. Holy Cross), SoCon (Charleston vs. Chattanooga), Metro Atlantic (Siena vs. Niagara) and West Coast (Gonzaga vs. Saint Mary's).
- The Badlands (Summit) and Sun Belt are down to fours, and will contest semifinals this evening.
- Four of those championships will be decided tonight: the CAA, Metro Atlantic, SoCon and West Coast.
- There are eight elimination games on tap tonight.
Retrievers proved that they truly are the ironmen of the America East, using a six-man rotation to fend off homestanding Albany
. The Great Danes were the better team on offense, but it was the defending champions' ball control (seven turnovers) and foul shooting (18-for-25, 17 more chances) that sent the local fans home unhappy after their upset win over Vermont on Saturday. Top-seeded Binghamton
fought off a brave challenge from a New Hampshire
squad that flew under the A-East radar all season. Packed with upperclassmen-to-be, the Wildcats with their positive playoff experience looks like a breakout team for 2010. Maryland-Baltimore County 64, at  Albany 58
| GameFlo Binghamton 72,  New Hampshire 67
Don't let the eight-point margin fool you -- plucky No. 11 seed Towson
gave George Mason
all it could handle. In a physical, low-possession slog, the Tigers held on to a slim lead for over 14 minutes of the second half before the Patriots used guts and free throws to dump a team that won five games in the CAA regular season, then knocked off two higher seeds in Richmond. Old Dominion
controlled the action in the first half of its final stand against No. 1 VCU
, but Eric Maynor
can't be held down forever. The CAA POY had 23 points on 7-for-13 shooting, and Larry Sanders contributed a strong 12-and-14 double-double. ODU's 6-10 force Gerald Lee
, who posted a career-high 30 points on Saturday against Hofstra, only managed five points on 1-for-7 shooting. Virginia Commonwealth 61,  Old Dominion 53
| GameFlo George Mason 56,  Towson 48
| GameFloMetro Atlantic
For the second straight day, top-seeded Siena
barely broke a sweat, ending the competitive portion of the program early by jumping out to a 28-11 lead on Fairfield
. With five Saints in double-figures, it was more a full-squad practive than anything else. They'll need it. The other side of the bracket produced a classic MAAC game for the ages, a double-overtime thriller that fans will save their ticket stubs for proof of presence purposes. Both Rider
traded runs and the lead (15 times). Niagara's Tyrone Lewis
heaved in a 30-footer at the regulation buzzer to force the first OT, then Rider came back from six points down in the first extra period to force a second. After building a lead of their own in the second OT, Purple Eagle Bilal Benn
(20 points, 19 rebounds) stole the ball from the Broncs' Ryan Thompson
(27 points, 13 rebounds, all 50 minutes played) to diffuse a potential rally and end the game.at  Siena 80,  Fairfield 65
| GameFlo Niagara 93,  Rider 89
| GameFloMissouri Valley
In a game that temporarily held up the beginning of Duke-Carolina, Northern Iowa
emerged as the Valley tourney winner for the first time since 2004, and became the second straight team to match its regular-season title with an autobid (Drake, 2008) after a decade-long stretch with split titles (Illinois State, 1998). The first half lacked much drama at all, as the Panthers methodically piled up points as Illinois State
self-destructed. But Osiris Eldridge
was determined to cement his Valley legacy, and scored all 21 of his points after halftime -- including several long contested 3's that left the assembled crowd breathless... Eldridge was named tourney MVP because overzealous league staff collected ballots with three minutes left in regulation. The real MVP was a more esoteric concept: UNI's unshakeable, unrattleable calm that's produced steady 40-minute (or 45, or 50) performances since January resulted in the MVC's Most Valuable Placidity. It's fitting that in a year when the Missouri Valley turned into the Bizarro Valley, sanity and calm and poise emerged victorious in the end. Northern Iowa 60,  Illinois State 57
| GameFloNortheastRobert Morris,
hoping to avoid the semifinal exit that ruined last year's marvelous campaign, built a 13-point lead on Quinnipiac
by halftime and pushed it out to 23 by the 10-minute mark. Senior Jeremy Chappell
, who's been prone to lackluster performances in games that don't matter, had a huge game with 25 points, including five 3-pointers. Sacred Heart
is broken again, a solidly strengthening program that has three straight seasons with at least 12 NEC regular-season wins but no NCAA bid as of yet. In the rematch of last year's title tilt, Mount Saint Mary's
eliminated the Pioneers again, dropped a 10-2 run late in the game to move into winning position, and a key travel call on SH with two minutes left, and a missed 3 on the next possession, pulled the plug on the comeback attempt.at  Robert Morris 75,  Quinnipiac 48
| GameFloat  Mount Saint Mary's 68,  Sacred Heart 63
| GameFloPatriot LeagueAmerican
had an easy time with Army
during the regular season, but found the Black Knights an evenly-matched foe and an extremely tough out at elimination time. Eagles forward Brian Gilmore
went to the line with 3.6 seconds to go, and split his free throws to give the defending champions the final one-point advantage. The Colgate
Red Raiders would have benefitted greatly from a scouting report from the future: "Do not underestimate the ass-kicking power of Eric Meister." Holy Cross'
(center) exploded for a career-high 19 points on 9-for-10 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds. The title game will be held in Washington, D.C. on Friday.at  American 61,  Army 60
| GameFloat  Holy Cross 61,  Colgate 44
tried to lure Chattanooga
into a slow, high-percentage game, and the Mocs beat them at it... it was that simple. Meanwhile, Charleston
for the second time this season. OK, so now what? Unless the bubble is weaker than that of the South Sea Company
, Davidson is out of the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats' team sheet
is nowhere near those in the true top 11 percent of the country, and their only hope is that clowny hype
will save their chances. But the gist of the December joke about Stephen Curry
(20 points on 5-for-18 shooting) having to be three superheroes at once
came from the fact that he, well, had to be three superheroes at once for this team to succeed. Let's just all say it together: this was a rebuilding year, they were consistently pushed around by bigger teams, and the freshman bigs will be ready for a real run next year. And please, Flash
, come back. You'll have a better chance to make the players around you look better as a senior.[S3] College of Charleston 59, [S1] Davidson 52
| GameFloat [N1] Chattanooga 81, [N3] Samford 70
| GameFloBadlands Conference
We'll keep using the word "dangerous" when describing Oakland until you believe us. The No. 3 Golden Grizzlies opened playoff play by shooting 62 percent against an overwhelmed IPFW squad, and put five players in double figures. Expect another shock-and-awe performance tonight, as Oakland gets the No. 7 seeded Jackrabbits instead of the triple-champ Oral Roberts Golden Eagles due to an early upset. In the other game, Southern Utah needed 48 percent shooting and big rebounding to overcome sloppy play (21 turnovers) and horrid foul shooting (7-for-17) to oust IUPUI.
 Southern Utah 53,  IUPUI 48 | GameFlo
 Oakland 75,  IUPU-Fort Wayne 62 | GameFlo
The top-seeded Western Kentucky Hilltoppers dumped FIU by force of muscle, if not selection of shot. WKU shot 39 percent but still blew out the Golden Panthers, thanks to a 45-30 margin on the boards. The next opponent will be North Texas, which won its fourth straight, clinched its third consecutive 20-win season, and sent underachieving preseason favorite Middle Tennessee packing. The locals from Little Rock had their hands full with Denver, which dictated tempo (turtley) and kept the game close until the very end; the Pioneers had the score tied in the final minute, but John Fowler of UALR bailed his team out with a pair of 3's. In a minor shock, No. 6 South Alabama (an at-large team a year ago) dropped a Troy team that beat the Jaguars twice during the regular season. Dominic Tilford, an important holdover from that NCAA squad, scored a team-high 20 points to lead South-In-Your-Mouth to victory.
 Western Kentucky 66,  Florida International 48 | GameFlo
 North Texas 88,  Middle Tennessee 79 | GameFlo
 Arkansas-Little Rock 58,  Denver 55 | GameFlo
 South Alabama 78,  Troy 75 | GameFlo
Take away the whole comeback story, and Patty Mills had a game that typified his season previous to his hand injury: 12 points on 3-for-12 shooting, and a virtually flat assist-to-turnover ratio. His hype precedes him (don't worry, he has two more years to hone his game), but let's talk about the underrated yet overproductive Best Frontcourt in Mid-majordomâ„¢, eh? Both Diamon Simpson and Omar Samhan submitted nasty double-doubles and combined for 27 points and 27 rebounds as Saint Mary's dispatched Portland. Santa Clara's John Bryant had his career end last night with 13 points and 10 rebounds (his 16th straight double-double)-- we're going to miss the big fella, a very deserving WCC player of the year. Gonzaga delivered an elimination blow to the Broncos that could only be described as a "sandblasting."
 Gonzaga 94,  Santa Clara 59 | GameFlo
 Saint Mary's 71,  Portland 61 | GameFlo
On Tap Tonight
This here's a rematch of the classic 2007 CAA title game. That was a close match until the final minutes, when then-sophomore Eric Maynor conducted one of the great historical takeovers and the Rams brought out the chain. It's a safe bet that he'll be a key factor tonight as well. Over the past decade, George Mason has beaten VCU in the city of Richmond just three times in 11 tries... the last time was 2006.
7:00 pm ET -  George Mason 22-9 (13-5) vs.  Virginia Commonwealth 23-9 (14-4) | Preview
Recent: 01/24/2009 GMU 71 @VCU 76 01/29/2008 VCU 51 @GMU 63
Yeah, that high-scoring ESPNU game 11 days ago was sort of important. If Niagara had been just another in a long series of Siena romps, tonight's game might not have the same level of drama it does. If Siena were to lose, its team sheet would be held up to the harsh light of day. The Saints are 0-4 against the RPI top 50, and losing this game would likely elevate No. 56 Niagara into the left column to make it 1-6. But after last night's double-OT thriller-chiller, do the Purple Eagles have anything left?
9:00 pm ET -  Niagara 26-7 (14-4) vs.  Siena 25-7 (16-2) | Preview
Recent: 02/27/2009 SIE 85 @NIAG 100 01/24/2009 NIAG 65 @SIE 82
Chattanooga has the home-court advantage as the pre-determined tourney host, but Charleston is coming out of the stacked SoCon SoDiv with a far superior record, which includes two strong wins over the Mocs during the regular season. A Chatty win puts them on a low-seed line, but if Charleston ends up repping the league, the Cougars will likely get high enough to face one of the doomed, juicy power-conference runner-ups that will litter the No. 3 through No. 6 seed lines next week.
7:00 pm ET - [S3] College of Charleston 26-7 (15-5) at [N1] Chattanooga 17-16 (11-9) | Preview
Recent: 02/23/2009 COFC 86 @CHAT 77 02/14/2008 CHAT 73 @COFC 79
North Dakota State was probably hoping for IUPUI as a semifinal opponent, as SUU holds that Valentine's Day win that forced the potential tiebreaker drama on the regular season's final day. The Thunderbirds are the best free-throw shooting team in the nation at 79.4 percent, so if Bison Fever is to continue unabated, keep the hands in the pockets. South Dakota State has an overtime winner over Oakland, but that was back when the G'Grizzlies were having road problems (0-4 in January). Oakland hasn't lost since that game.
7:00 pm ET -  North Dakota State 24-6 (16-2) vs.  Southern Utah 11-19 (8-10) | Preview
Recent: 02/14/2009 SUU 74 @NDST 69 01/15/2009 NDST 76 @SUU 53
9:30 pm ET -  South Dakota State 13-19 (7-11) vs.  Oakland 21-11 (13-5) | Preview
Recent: 01/31/2009 OAK 68 @SDST 74 12/31/2008 SDST 81 @OAK 86
In their only meeting this year, Western Kentucky engineered a heroic comeback against the Mean Green at Diddle Arena, shooting 58 percent in the second half and obtaining 22 points from A.J. Slaughter. Yet another game where tempo will be key: if WKU can push it out in transition and run its stuff quickly, they could end the night quickly; UNT will try to slow things down to a mean, green, nasty pace. UALR pulled it out in the final seconds last night, just like they did against Team USA back in January. The Trojans won their league games by an average of just five points... how much cardiac is left in these kids?
7:30 pm ET -  North Texas 20-11 (11-7) vs.  Western Kentucky 22-8 (15-3) | Preview
Recent: 01/31/2009 NTEX 67 @WKU 71 03/09/2008 WKU 84 NTEX 70
10:00 pm ET -  South Alabama 19-12 (10-8) vs.  Arkansas-Little Rock 23-7 (15-3) | Preview
Recent: 01/22/2009 UALR 61 @USA 59 01/19/2008 USA 72 @UALR 65
The first matchup, when Mills injured his hand after a strong first half, ended in stunned defeat as the Gaels tried to figure out how to make do. The second time, SMC backcourt players had adjusted to new roles and those frontcourt studs outrebounded the Zags by 13, coming just two points short of an epoch-defining win. Don't turn the ball over, limit Mills' shots, get the big guys the ball, and this could be another multi-bid year for the WCC.
9:00 pm ET -  Saint Mary's 24-5 (10-4) vs.  Gonzaga 25-5 (14-0) | Preview
Recent: 02/12/2009 GONZ 72 @SMC 70 01/29/2009 SMC 62 @GONZ 69