Today is the first day of Championship Fortnight, with three leagues getting under way with elimination games.Brackets
The Big South and Ohio Valley kick off with campus-site quarterfinals, and the Horizon League begins with a three-game first round.
The intriguing thing in the Big South
is whether or not Winthrop makes it out alive. The Eagles just finished up the first undefeated league season in history, and with just four losses to Top 25 teams, it's going to be a quandary for the Selection Committee if they don't win out. A fun diversion is trying to figure out how deep into this event they have to go, but I'll say this: three dominant wins might get them the No. 13 seed that's eluded them during the Gregg Marshall Era.Previews
(will become boxscores once play is complete):(8) Charleston Southern at (1) Winthrop(7) Radford at (2) High Point(6) Virginia Military Institute at (3) Liberty(5) North Carolina-Asheville at (4) Coastal CarolinaAustin Peay rocketed to the top of the Ohio Valley but looked vulnerable in its final week; the Govs are a finesse team that needs its 3's to fall in order to win. Speaking of vulnerable, Samford fell from preseason favorite and first place to tourney road team in three short weeks; the Bulldogs have suffered from defensive breakdowns and finished the regular season winning just three of its last 10. Murray State won it all last year and pushed North Carolina to within a minute of its NCAA life in the first round, but is in rebuilding mode.
(8) Tennessee State at (1) Austin Peay
(7) Morehead State at (2) Eastern Kentucky
(6) Southeast Missouri at (3) Tennessee Tech
(5) Samford at (4) Murray State
The Horizon League will feature three lower-seed games at campus sites. Check out YSU and star Quin Humphrey, just off its best Horizon League finish ever and hosting a HL playoff game. Wisconsin-Milwaukee is the defending champion, but lost all five starters to graduation last summer and begins this event on the road.
(9) Cleveland State at (4) Wisconsin-Green Bay
(8) Detroit at (5) Youngstown State
(7) Wisconsin-Milwaukee at (6) Illinois-Chicago
The Big Sky playoff picture keeps getting weirder, and only the close of the regular season will solve most of the playoff scenarios. Last night at my game, defending champs Montana (10-6) beat Idaho State in overtime, 72-71, which keeps alive Eastern Washington's (8-8) chances of making the No. 6 seed and getting into the six-team tourney. Idaho State (7-8) must now win tonight against Montana State to even get in. But up at the top, eliminated Sacramento State unleashed the fury of hellfire upon Weber State 105-83. Weber already knows it's the No. 1 seed...
Long Beach State (20-7, 10-2) got to clinch the Big West title, and they did it on national TV. In the first-ever BWC Big Monday gig, the 49ers held off Pacific on the road, 82-76... the Northeast Conference concluded with a three-way tie at 9-9; tiebreakers concluded that Robert Morris is the No. 4 seed, with Mount Saint Mary's the No. 5 and Fairleigh Dickinson the No. 6. Three teams get left home, and the campus-site fun starts on Thursday... The West Coast league slate concluded last night, and Santa Clara's 89-82 loss to lowly Pepperdine means the Broncos finish 10-4, one game back of UMPFN. The Unnameds have a 69 RPI and SC has a 99, so this is no two-bid league without an UMPFN title-game loss...
In the MEAC, No. 1 seed Delaware State (15-2) nipped and tucked Bethune-Cookman 47-40; the real battle is for the No. 2 seed, with Florida A&M, Morgan State and North Carolina A&T all with a chance... While you were watching Trey Johnson, defense-first Mississippi Valley State quietly took control of the SWAC with its conference-best 58.1 ppg allowed in conference play.The Delta Devils have won three straight and own a 12-5 record. The other hot team is Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the second-best defensive team in the league; the Golden Lions have also won three straight to move to 9-8. Thursday marks a slowdown throwdown between the two.
We know a place where no planes go, and we know a place where no ninth-place teams go. These seasons are over. Sacramento State, you missed out on the Big Sky tourney, and you, Long Island-Brooklyn and Saint Francis (PA) and defending champions/2006 play-in game winners Monmouth, failed to make the NEC's mini-dance. Now all four programs wait for next year, between the click of the light and the start of the dream.
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