Four Dance tickets were punched: Winthrop, Eastern Kentucky, Central Florida and Chattanooga. Despite the two-digit numbers that the Selection Committee will hand them one week from today, all are champions.Bracket WrapBig South: (1) Winthrop 68, (7) Charleston Southern 46 (story)
One-seeds fell like mighty trees. Arkansas-Little Rock, the E1 in the Sun Belt, and Gardner-Webb of the Atlantic Sun both lost.
Other notable seasons came to possible ends yesterday - two-seeds Wisconsin-Green Bay (Horizon) and Missouri-Kansas City (Mid-Continent) went down.
Defending champions left the building: Northern Iowa (Missouri Valley) and Eastern Washington (Big Sky).
- When the bright lights of ESPN2 descended upon the Mid-Majority for another year, former MMBOW Torrell Martin
was the star of the show - he netted 13 and nabbing nine. Winthrop's (27-5, 18-1 BSC) victory seemed a foregone conclusion, but the conclusion finally came and the Eagles will be Dancing. "We had the home-court fans," senior James Shuler told the press
afterwards. "We had the chemistry, the confidence. There was no way we were going to lose." The Buccaneers of CSU made a brave run as road warriors out of the seven seed, pretty much living in their bus since last Monday.Ohio Valley: (2) Eastern Kentucky 52, (5) Austin Peay 46 (story)
- If space aliens - or, for that matter, national television viewers - touched down for the first time on the Ohio Valley Conference yesterday, they'd go away believing that the league had all the offensive output of the Ivy League circa 1948. Ridiculously bad shooting, fudgy fingers and defensive sludge aren't neccesarily the hallmarks of the OVC, but it doesn't diminish the fact that we have a deserving champion. Zach Ingles scored 15 points to lead the Colonels (21-8, 13-5 OVC), and it's EKU's first trip to the Dance in 26 years.Atlantic Sun: (2) Central Florida 63, (1) Gardner-Webb 54 (story)
- After two nailbiting wins to dispatch the eight and four seeds, the Runnin' Bulldogs from Boiling Springs finally saw their luck run out Saturday. G-Webb last saw the lead halfway through the first half, and then UCF made sure they'd never see it again with a scorching 15-2 run. The Golden Knights are conference champions for the second straight year and the fourth time in their history (1994, 1996) in their final A-Sun season (they're leaving the Mid-Majority for the C-USA). And they love proving people wrong - they were picked sixth last year, and eighth before this season began.Southern: (E1) Chattanooga 66, (E2) North Carolina-Greensboro 62 (story)
- Their three games this year make a nice little SoCon trilogy: Chattanooga ran out to huge leads in each game, and had to withstand furious second-half rallies by the Spartans. The first UNCG comeback, in Greensboro, was successful. The second rally at the McKenzie was stopped and stymied by a group of Mocs that wouldn't be fooled again. This third Spartan attack, in which UNCG cut a 14-point lead with six to go to a two-point deficit with 1:27 remaining, was pushed back with made free throws - the Mocs will be listed on the Big Bracket for the first time since 1997.Horizon:
After Saturday's semifinal games in Milwaukee, we have a title game matchup ready for primetime. That would be Tuesday in prime time, on ESPN2.(3) Detroit 61, (2) Wisconsin-Green Bay 55 (story)(1) Wisconsin-Milwaukee 94, Loyola (Ill.) 76 (story)
UWM won easily, and the path would seem to be cleared for the Panthers due to the upset on the other side of the bracket. But a young UDM guard named Brandon Cotton awaits - scored 26 points to lift the Titans past the favored Phoenix and bolster his case for tourney MVP.Missouri Valley:
The toughest mid-major league in the nation is down to its final four after Saturday's quarters. (official site)(5) Southwest Missouri State 70, (4) Northern Iowa 62(1) Southern Illinois 64, (9) Indiana State 49(2) Wichita State 72, (7) Drake 52(3) Creighton 69, (6) Illinois State 52
All three top seeds took care of business, but the streaky SMS Bears knocked out the defending Valley champs. Northern Iowa had been a sexy MVC pick about a month ago by chin-stroking and one-eyebrow-raising pundits, but the Panthers' Dance dreams are dashed.
So here's the semifinal situation: SMS will play the top-seeded Salukis of SIU, and Wichita State will take on Creighton. Valley observers with excellent intermediate-term memory will remember that Southwest beat Southern in an eerily similar situation last year.Sun Belt:
Two quarterfinals in the books, two to go. One upset yesterday, one non-upset. (site)(E5) Florida International 69, (E1) Arkansas-Little Rock 64(W1) Denver 64, (E4) Arkansas State 57
The Golden Panthers of FIU are a surprise semifinalist to everyone who didn't witness their 114-111 win over Little Rock back in January (is that the highest two-team total in D1 this year? I think it is.) FIU awaits the winner of Louisiana-Lafayette
and Middle Tennessee State
; SBC Player Of The Year Yemi Nicholson and his Denver Pioneers - who won despite Mount Yemi's foul trouble - will take on New Orleans
or Western Kentucky
The semifinals are set in the CAA.(5) Hofstra 89, (4) Drexel 77 (story)(1) Old Dominion 64, (9) William & Mary 51 (story)(2) Virginia Commonwealth 74, (8) Delaware 61 (story)(3) North Carolina-Wilmington 60, (6) George Mason 47 (story)
The top of the seeding arrangement played out as planned, but Drexel suffered yet another first-round exit because of their fatal weakness - size. The Dragon guards produced in double-figure fashion, but a 37-31 rebounding advantage proved crucial. So here are your CAA semis: ODU plays Hofstra at 3:00, and VCU and UNCW go at it in the 5:30 game.Mid-Continent:
Same as in the SBC, we've got two semifinalists and two more quarters today.(7) Oakland 67, (2) Missouri-Kansas City 63 (story)(1) Oral Roberts 82, (8) Southern Utah 59 (story)
Hosts ORU made it through easily, but their regular season nemesis did not as Oakland won their first-ever tournament game. We've had a lot of fun with the UMKC Kangaroos this season, what with their horrible logo, fun team characters, their seven-game season-opening losing streak and their 11-game tear directly thereafter. We're going to miss them here at TMM, but nobody ever said the conference tournaments weren't cruel. Actually, someone probably has said that, but they're tragically misinformed.
Here are today's other quarterfinal matchups in Tulsa: the three-six game will feature Valparaiso
and Chicago State
squares off with Western Illinois
in the 4-5 axis game.Metro Atlantic:
The second round is in the books, and now there are four left standing.(3) Fairfield 62, (6) Manhattan 60 (story)(2) Rider 79, (7) Canisius 59 (story)(5) Iona 97, (4) Saint Peter's 73 (story)
Iona's Steve Burtt's 36 eclipsed two-time national scoring champ Keydren Clark's 22 (5-for-20 FG's) and the Gaels rolled for the second straight day. They'll get one-seed Niagara
in today's first semifinal at 2:00. The other matchup will be Rider against a Stag squad that nipped the three-time defending champs at the buzzer - the Jaspers' Peter Mulligan could not hit a three-pointer or get himself fouled as time expired.West Coast:
Out in lovely Santa Clara, the top two seeds now have their sparring partners - the second round of the WCC's staggered bracket is complete.(3) Santa Clara 67, (6) San Francisco 60 (story)/a>
(4) San Diego 86, (5) Pepperdine 80 (story)
Brandon Gay of the USD Toreros scored a career-high 36 points to lowtide the Waves, and the Broncos used Total Team Effort and a boisterous home crowd to dump the Dons. The wraps come off the two top protected seeds today: Santa Clara will face 2 St. Mary's
, and San Diego gets 1 UMPFN
in the early game. Big Sky:
The campus-site second round is done in the biggest little league in the Northwest, now it's on to Portland.(5) Weber State 74, (4) Sacramento State 71 (story)(3) Montana 58, (6) Eastern Washington 48
Getting to play a 4-5 game at home is nice, but loads of historical postseason experience is even nicer. Weber sped to an 18-2 lead and spent the rest of the game fighting off pesky Sac State at an arena officially called The Hornets Nest. A disappointing season for defending champion Eastern Washington is complete as Montana stopped them in Missoula. On Tuesday, 1 Portland State
will get Weber State, and the Grizzlies will take on their instate rivals Montana State
in the other semi.What's On Tap
No finals today, but lots of semis. Pairs of games today in the NEC, America East, Colonial, Mid-Continent, Missouri Valley, MAAC and West Coast conferences. The Sun Belt quarterfinals continue in Denton.Automatic Bids Pennsylvania
(19-8, 12-1 Ivy) clinched the Ivy League regular season title on February 27. Winthrop
(27-5, 18-1 BSC) won the Big South tournament on March 5. Chattanooga
(20-13, 13-6 SoCon) won the Southern tournament on March 5. Eastern Kentucky
(21-8, 13-5 OVC) won the Ohio Valley tournament on March 5. Central Florida
(24-8, 15-7 A-Sun) won the Atlantic Sun tournament on March 5.