Make way on the big bracket for two more mid-major champions: Mount Saint Mary's, surprise winners of the NEC out of a No. 4 seed, and Portland State, double-champions of the Big Sky.
There were three exciting finishes in the Atlantic 14, with La Salle, Dayton and Charlotte pulling out thrilling first-round wins to keep their seasons alive.
A sizeable upset in the MEAC quarterfinals, as No. 7 seed Coppin State stunned No. 2 Hampton 75-74.
A big day for quarterfinals around Hoops Nation as the final wave of tourneys moves forward. The A-14, MAC, Southland and WAC whittle eights into fours. The SWAC and MEAC will complete quarterfinal rounds that began yesterday.
Three teams battled it out atop the NEC with gaudy records -- none of them were Mount Saint Mary's, which took out top seed Robert Morris and No. 3 Sacred Heart -- on the road, no less. The Mount's road warriors end their conference season with an 11-7 record away from Emmitsburg, Md..
Portland State won the regular season championship three years ago, but couldn't seal the Dance deal. This year, the Vikings are NCAA-bound for the first time in the school's 11-year Division I history after a cruise to the title. Senior guard Deonte Huff was the team's leading scorer in both tourney games, and had 17 last night.
Coppin's surprise win was its second in less than a month over the Pirates, closed by late free throws by Tywain McKee. Hampton's previously promising season ends with a 1-3 record against the MEAC's Baltimore schools.
Saint Louis dropped a 13-4 run in the last four minutes of regulation to force overtime, but eventually fell thanks to a Marcus Johnson pop in the lane with 32 seconds left in OT. URI blew a five-point lead with 1:49 remaining, tumbling from nationally ranked to broken 11-seed in just 11 weeks. Duquesne couldn't hold on to a seven-point lead with 5:42 left. Saint Joe's, on the other hand, dominated.
It's a mental adjustment preparing for this tourney and not using the "Team X has to get to at least Round Y" logic -- after over two-decades of consistent multi-bid performance, this event is a fight over a single Dance card.
This is the second round of the BWC, as seeds three and four make their first appearance on the staggered bracket. The two winners today will be reseeded going into tomorrow's semis. Before the games, check out the 7th Annual Big West mascot challenge at the ESPNZone near Disneyland. Here's your bracket for that.