The last Sunday of the regular season for the BCS leagues was a busy one, and thrilling conference tournament action as well. Let's get right to the recap. As always, box scores are from Basketball State.
Only one team punched their ticket on Sunday. Northern Iowa is the second straight surprise Missouri Valley champion. The Panthers defeated Illinois State, 60-57 in overtime. Ali Farokhmanesh got the better of Valley POY Osiris Eldridge in the extra stanza, as Eldridge missed time with cramping. I feel bad for the people of Richmond, who couldn't see this game. Their CBS affiliate carried Raycom's telecast of Virginia Tech at Florida State instead.
Four teams will make the field this evening.
Colonial (ESPN2, 7 EDT)- VCU and George Mason survived ODU and Towson, respectively, after another thrilling afternoon of action in Richmond. The Tigers really gave the Patriots a battle. The predominantly VCU crowd definitely tried to give them a boost, especially since I didn't need both hands to count the number of Towson fans present at the Coliseum.
Southern (ESPN, 7 EDT) - College of Charleston upset CBS darling Davidson, 59-52, meaning the chances of seeing Stephen Curry in this year's tournament are slim. Curry managed 20 points, but only on 5-18 shooting, including 2-11 from outside. The homestanding Chattanooga Mocs will be the Cougars' next opponent, as they knocked out conference newcomer Samford, 80-71.
Metro Atlantic (ESPN2, 9 EDT) - Homestanding Siena defeated Fairfield handily, 80-65. The Saints had a lot of balanced last night, with five players hitting double figures. Kenny Hasbrouck was surprisingly not one of them, as he only scored 9. Next up for Siena is a rubber match with 2 seed Niagara. The Purple Eagles needed a Tyrone Lewis three to tie it at the end of regulation, but they ended up getting past Rider, 93-89 in double OT.
West Coast (ESPN, 9 EDT) - Gonzaga had no problem with Santa Clara, winning by 25. In the other semi, Saint Mary's got Patty Mills back. The Aussie was a bit rusty (12 points on 25% shooting with 4 assists), though he did look far better in the second half. The Gaels defeated Portland for the second time this year, 71-61.
Two other conferences had their semifinals Sunday, but their championship games won't be until later in the week because of TV considerations.
America East - Binghamton will host Maryland-Baltimore County on Saturday morning. The sixth-seeded Retrievers knocked off the homestanding and seventh-seeded Albany Great Danes, 64-58. The top-seeded Bearcats are on track for their first ever NCAA appearance. They defeated fourth-seeded New Hampshire, 72-67.
If that's not enough for you, the Summit League (7 EDT, Full Court) and Sun Belt (7:30 EDT, Full Court) semifinals are also on available. In the Summit, there was a big upset in the quarterfinals Saturday, as 7 seed South Dakota State knocked three-time defending champion Oral Roberts out. The Jackrabbits face 3 seed Oakland. Top seed North Dakota State looks to keep their hopes of a first-ever tournament bid (in their first year of eligibility) alive. The Bison face the 5 seed, Southern Utah. In the Sun Belt, the higher seeds were having their way in the quarterfinals, until sixth-seeded South Alabama upset the 3 seed, Troy. The Jaguars next face 2 seed Arkansas-Little Rock. Top seeded Western Kentucky takes on the 4 seed, 2007 tournament champion North Texas.
Outside of Auto-Bid Land
Virginia Tech lost to Florida State, 63-53. That means the Hokies are in the 8/9 game in the ACC tournament. Their opponent is Miami, which makes that first round tie a virtual bubble elimination game.
If Auburn has life in the SEC, Vanderbilt must as well. The Commodores made it to 8-8 in the stronger East division by (oddly enough) beating a Western opponent - Arkansas, 75-58.
UNC is in good shape for a #1 seed after beating Duke, 79-71. Michigan State continued to build their case for a 2, as they knocked off Purdue, 62-51. Wake has a case too after beating Clemson (who looks likely to be on the outside looking in when it comes to a protected seed), 96-88.
Ohio State got a big win over Northwestern, 52-47. Evan Turner had 17 for the Buckeyes, and it seemed like his sole purpose for the evening was to keep the Wildcats' dance drought going. I'm not ready to write Northwestern off yet, as they play Minnesota in the 8-9 game on Thursday in Indianapolis. If they win that, they get another shot at Michigan State Friday.
I'll be around this evening to talk about the four big championship games and whatever else you're thinking about here in the stretch run.