Today, three autobids to the NCAA Tournament will be awarded! The Big South, Ohio Valley and Atlantic Sun will crown champions.
The No. 6 was a lucky number yesterday -- surprising Tennessee State moved to the finals of the OVC, Northern Iowa upset No. 3 Southern Illinois in the MVC, and Valparaiso continued its Horizon League run by advancing into the semis.
The Colonial, Metro Atlantic, America East, SoCon and WCC had first rounds with few shocks, though No. 10 Canisius overcame No. 7 Iona in the MAAC and the CAA's Towson (No. 9) pulled off a mild upset over No. 8 Hofstra.
More tourneys continue on. The Horizon League and MVC will stage semifinal rounds today, and quarterfinal quadruple-headers are happening in the America East, Metro Atlantic and SoCon. The West Coast moves to a second round.
Two more conference tournaments get under way: the Summit League (Badlands Conference) kicks off in Tulsa, while the Big Sky will hold a campus-site first round.
Jacksonville took a 16-3 lead and never looked back against the No. 6 Runnin' Bulldogs, ending a season that began with a historic upset at Kentucky. Belmont had to come from behind with a 16-2 run to finish off ETSU.
Drake Reed's free throw with 2.2 seconds left to overcome OVC POY Lester Hudson and his 22 second-half points. Bruce Price scored 20 points to lead the Tigers to their first league title game since 1998.
Jarryd Loyd nailed four freebies in the last 12 seconds to lead Valpo to their second win over Wright State in under a week, and the Crusaders would be only the second team in league history to win the league in its first try if they survive two more rounds. Josh Mayo of UIC scored 12 points in the second half and outrebounded Loyola 36-20, as the Flames burned their crosstown rivals for the third and final time this season.
Drake rolled over sleepy Indiana State, as MVC POY Adam Emmenecker double-doubled with 13 and 10. Creighton's Cavel Witter, the star of that 111-110 BU-CU thriller last week, scored the last six for the Bluejays to eliminate the Braves. Four Redbirds scored in double figures in Illinois State's win, and Eric Coleman's 22-and-10 dub-dub sank the Saluki season.
A 3-pointer by W&M's David Schneider with 1.5 seconds left averted a Georgia State upset. A combined 42 points from Towson's Josh Thornton and Tony Durant helped Towson to a 9-over-8 win. Delaware and Northeastern advanced with easy wins.
Winthrop and UNCA will meet for the second time in a week, after their battle for the regular-season title last Saturday. That 13-point win for the Bulldogs is the reason this game is where it is. The No. 2 seed hasn't won this tournament since 2001, but Winthrop has won eight of these in the past decade.
This matchup isn't as cut and dry as you'd think: APSU just nipped TSU at the buzzer in their first meeting, and the Tigers used a second-half burst to drop the Govs last month. The venue for this game is also less than a mile from the Tennessee State campus.
The quarterfinals get under way in Binghamton, with UMBC the only team with an RPI better than 170. Should the Retrievers fall today or tomorrow, the league champion will likely be headed to the Dayton play-in game.
While the records would indicate that this round would end up chalky, the league has featured much less of a division between rich and poor this year. Expect at least one surprise out of these quarterfinals.
Fairfield is a dangerous No. 5, winning seven of its final eight regular season games. But whatever happens today, tomorrow's semifinals will likely be the most thrilling day of the one-bid portion of Championship Week.
It's a six-team tournament in a nine-team league, so Northern Colorado, Sacramento State and Eastern Washington didn't make the party. The bottom four survivors fight it out tonight in Utah and Idaho, the winners moving on to Portland State, which will host the next rounds by virtue of its regular-season title.
The Badlands Conference also holds an exclusive bash; North Dakota State and South Dakota State didn't show up due to their D-I transitional status. Two of the quarterfinal matches occur tonight; the other two go tomorrow.