Championship Festival Go-Round: March 10, 2011

A lucky 13 are in..

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Who will be the 55 who join them as championship games resume Friday?

One of the most exciting Championship Festivals in recent memory kept up its momentum on Wednesday night, as Northeast regular season champion No. 1 Long Island earned the conference's double crown by getting past two-time defending bid holder Robert Morris, 85-82, after an overtime forced by a Russell Johnson three in the dying seconds of regulation. It's the Blackbirds first trip to the Tournament since 1997.

 

The nightcap also saw a team add its league's tourney title to a regular season one as Big Sky champ No. 1 Northern Colorado defeated runner-up Montana, 65-60, to earn its first-ever NCAA bid, in its fifth season as a Division I member. p.m. ET)

After the jump, I'll run through a packed, but championship game-free Thursday schedule, starting with the only league playing semifinals today, the Southland.

Southland Semifinals

at Katy, TX

Both games air on the Southland TV Network, ESPN3, and Full Court.

No. 7 Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners vs. No. 3 Sam Houston St. Bearkats, 7 p.m. ET
No. 4 Texas State Bobcats vs. No. 1 McNeese St. Cowboys, approx. 9:30 p.m. ET

 

Though you would have expected more in a conference where three games in the standings separated the eight qualifiers, there was just one surprisesin the Southland quarters on Wednesday. No. 2 seed Northwestern State lost a 97-96 thriller to the seventh-seeded Roadrunners in the opener, thanks to a Jeromie Hill dunk with two seconds left. Top seed McNeese State got a game from final qualifier Nicholls State, winning by a 61-54 score, while four seed Texas State topped No. 5 SE Louisiana by four in the final contest of the night.

The semifinal winners get tomorrow off before meeting for the title on Saturday afternoon.

Big East Quarterfinals

at New York

All four games air on ESPN.

No. 9 Connecticut Huskies vs. No. 1 Pittsburgh Panthers, 12 p.m. ET
No. 5 St. John's Red Storm vs. No. 4 Syracuse Orange, approx. 2:30 p.m. ET
No. 7 Cincinnati Bearcats vs. No. 2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 7 p.m. ET
No. 11 Marquette Golden Eagles vs. No. 3 Louisville Cardinals, approx. 9:30 p.m. ET

The Big East's top four, who all earned a bye to the quarterfinals, jump into action today with no real surprises joining them (though it's hard to have a quarterfinal surprise when 11 of a conference's 16 teams look to be headed to the NCAAs). However, it didn't have to be this way, as No. 13 Rutgers fell to homestanding St. John's in a game where the refs simply gave up with about three seconds left on the clock (H/T: Timothy Burke at 30FPS Mocksession). The Red Storm now move on to face a Syracuse team who's sure to have plenty of support in MSG themselves. Cincinnati ended No. 15 USF's run in the first game of the evening session, which ended by Marquette all but booking their NCAA bid by topping defending champ West Virginia.

Big 12 Quarterfinals

at Kansas City

No. 9 Oklahoma St. Cowboys vs. No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks, ESPN2 (12:30 p.m. ET)
No. 5 Colorado Buffaloes vs. No. 4 Kansas St. Wildcats, Big 12 Network/Altitude/MASN/BHSN/ESPN3/Full Court.(approx. 3 p.m. ET)
No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners vs. No. 2 Texas Longhorns, Big 12 Network/Altitude/MASN/BHSN/ESPN3/Full Court (7 p.m. ET)
No. 6 Missouri Tigers vs. No. 3 Texas A&M Aggies, ESPN2 (approx. 9:30 p.m. ET)

Nebraska will be headed to the NIT after falling victim to Oklahoma State, a team that has never lost its first game in the Big 12 tourney. The Cowboys will look to get closer to the bubble by stunning regular season champ Kansas today. Colorado will look to go three-for-three against Kansas State after they escaped No. 12 Iowa State, a team that topped them in Ames seven days before. Perry Jones III was suspended by the NCAA for No. 7 Baylor's loss to Oklahoma, and may miss more time, as he apparently received improper benefits. Of course, those games will be in the NIT at this point.

Big West Quarterfinals

at Anaheim, CA

No. 8 UC Irvine Anteaters vs. No. 1 Long Beach St. 49ers, 3 p.m. ET
No. 5 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. No. 4 Pacific Tigers, approx. 5:30 p.m. ET
No. 7 UC Riverside Highlanders vs. No. 2 Cal Poly Mustangs, 9 p.m. ET
No. 6 Cal St.-Fullerton Titans vs. No. 3 Cal St.-Northridge Matadors, approx. 11:30 p.m. ET

Big West action opens at the building formerly known as the Pond this afternoon with regular season champ Long Beach State a heavy favorite. Note that the conference reseeds the four quarterfinal winners for the semifinals.

Conference USA Quarterfinals

at El Paso, Texas

All four games air on CBS College Sports.

No. 8 East Carolina Pirates vs. No. 1 UAB Blazers, 1 p.m. ET
No. 5 Southern Miss. Golden Eagles vs. No. 4 Memphis Tigers, approx. 3:30 p.m. ET
No. 6 Marshall Thundering Herd vs. No. 3 UTEP Miners, 7:30 p.m. ET
No. 10 Rice Owls  vs. No. 2 Tulsa Golden Hurricane, approx. 10 p.m. ET

Conference USA's top four, including host UTEP and at-large candidates UAB and Memphis, play their first games at the Haskins Center today. The two biggest surprises were that ninth-seeded Central Florida's season, which began with so much promise, ended on the first day of the league tournament at the hands of an East Carolina team that Jeff Lebo seems to be getting on track, and 10 seed Rice stunning No. 7 SMU in the final game of the first round.

MEAC Quarterfinals

at Winston-Salem, NC

No. 6 Norfolk St. Spartans vs. No. 3 Coppin St. Eagles, 6 p.m. ET
No. 5 North Carolina A&T Aggies vs. No. 4 Morgan St. Bears, approx. 8:30 p.m. ET

Last night, top seed Bethune-Cookman and No. 2 Hampton Pirates knocked out No. 9 seed South Carolina State and No. 10 Maryland-Eastern Shore respectively to earn a day off and a place in Friday's semifinals. The winners of today's two quarterfinals, featuring seed three through six, will need to play on consecutive days to reach the Saturday's championship game

Mid-American Quarterfinals

at Cleveland

All four games air on SportsTime Ohio, ESPN3, and Full Court.

No. 7 Bowling Green Falcons vs. No. 2 Western Michigan Broncos, 12 p.m. ET
No. 6 Akron Zips vs. No. 3 Miami (Ohio) RedHawks, approx. 2:30 p.m. ET
No. 8 Buffalo Bulls vs. No. 1 Kent St. Golden Flashes , 7 p.m. ET
No. 5 Ohio Bobcats vs. No. 4 Ball St. Cardinals, approx. 9:30 p.m. ET

On Tuesday night, the four higher-seeded home teams won their opening round games and advanced to today's quarterfinals in Cleveland, where you can bet there will be at least one upset in the bunch.

Mountain West Quarterfinals

at Las Vegas

All four games air on The Mtn.

No. 9 TCU Horned Frogs vs. No. 1 BYU Cougars, 3 p.m. ET
No. 5 New Mexico Lobos vs. No. 4 Colorado St. Rams, approx. 5:30 p.m. ET (also on CBS College Sports)
No. 7 Utah Utes vs. No. 2 San Diego St. Aztecs, 9 p.m. ET
No. 6 Air Force Falcons vs. No. 3 UNLV Runnin' Rebels, approx. 11:30 p.m. ET (also on CBS College Sports)

Action begins in Las Vegas with the second game of the early session the most crucial, as the Rams and Lobos each have a chance at an at-large, with Colorado State's case being slightly stronger. Top seed BYU will look to send TCU back to Fort Worth, as the Horned Frogs stunned No. 8 Wyoming Wednesday afternoon to earn a quarterfinal place.

Pac-10 Quarterfinals

at Los Angeles

All four games air on FSN and Comcast SportsNet.

No. 5 California Golden Bears vs. No. 4 USC Trojans, 3:10 p.m. ET
No. 9 Oregon St. Beavers  vs. No. 1 Arizona Wildcats, approx. 5:40 p.m. ET
No. 7 Oregon Ducks vs. No. 2 UCLA Bruins, 9:10 p.m. ET
No. 6 Washington St. Cougars vs. No. 3 Washington Huskies, approx. 11:40 p.m. ET

 

Two of the four Pac-10 quarterfinals deserve particular attention, as USC can't afford to lose game one to Cal if they want to sneak in as an at-large or make a run at the auto bid. Meanwhile, the nightcap, Apple Cup III, sees Washington State's Klay Thompson return from a one-game suspension after being caught with marijuana, while Washington will be without Venoy Overton, who sits because he provided alcohol to a minor. The Huskies will be in serious bid trouble if they lose without him.

SWAC Quarterfinals

at Garland, TX

No. 6 Grambling St. Tigers vs. No. 3 Mississippi Valley St. Delta Devils, 1:30 p.m. ET
No. 5 Alabama A&M Bulldogs vs. No. 4 Alabama St. Hornets, 9 p.m. ET

The first two SWAC quarterfinals took place on Wednesday when No. 2 seed Jackson State, had little trouble with seventh-seeded Prairie View, 50-38, and runaway league winners Texas Southern struggled to get by No. 8 Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the defending champions, 50-45. Today, teams No. 3 through 6 look to join them in Friday's semifinals.

WAC Quarterfinals

at Las Vegas

Both games air on ESPNU.

No. 8 San Jose St. Spartans vs. No. 4 Idaho Vandals, 3 p.m. ET
No. 6 Nevada Wolf Pack vs. No. 3 New Mexico St. Aggies, approx. 5:30 p.m. ET

Yesterday afternoon, the bottom four qualifiers met in the first round where Adrian Oliver's pullup with five seconds to go pushed eighth-place San Jose State past No. 5 Hawaii and Nevada took out seventh-seeded Fresno State by ten.  Today's winners move on to Friday's semifinals where the top two seeds, Utah State and Boise State, await.

ACC First Round

at Greensboro

Games 1, 2, and 4 air on ACC Network and are streamed at TheACC.com in ACC Territory and appear on ESPN3 and Full Court in the rest of the country.

No. 9 Miami Hurricanes vs. No. 8 Virginia Cavaliers, 12 p.m. ET (also on FS Florida)
No. 12 Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs. No. 5 Boston College Eagles, approx. 2:30 p.m. ET (also on FS Florida)
No. 10 N.C. State Wolfpack vs. No. 7 Maryland Terrapins, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
No. 11 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. No. 6 Virginia Tech Hokies, approx. 9:30 p.m. ET (also on FS Florida)

You only need to pay attention to the late game in each of today's sessions in Greensboro, as Boston College and Virginia Tech would each be toast with a loss.

Big Ten First Round

at Indianapolis

No. 9 Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. No. 8 Northwestern Wildcats, ESPN2 (2:30 p.m. ET)
No. 10 Iowa Hawkeyes vs. No. 7 Michigan St. Spartans, ESPN2 (approx. 5 p.m. ET)
No. 11 Indiana Hoosiers vs. No. 6 Penn St. Nittany Lions, Big Ten Network (approx. 7:30 p.m. ET)

LIkewise, plan on joining the action in Indianapolis at about 5 Eastern, when Michigan State will look to win its rubber match with Iowa. Penn State's slim hopes would be over if they fall to Indiana in their backyard in the final game of the day.

SEC First Round

at Atlanta

All four games air on SEC Network, ESPN3, and Full Court.

W5 Auburn Tigers vs. E4 Georgia Bulldogs, 1 p.m. ET
E6 South Carolina Gamecocks vs. W3 Mississippi Rebels, approx. 3:30 p.m. ET
E5 Tennessee Volunteers vs. W4 Arkansas Razorbacks, 7:30 p.m. ET
W6 LSU Tigers vs. E3 Vanderbilt Commodores, approx. 10 p.m. ET

The first game in each session in Atlanta is the key one. Georgia will open the day looking to top Auburn, which would set up a potential elimination game with West champ Alabama on Friday afternoon. Meanwhile, Arkansas will look to stun Tennessee and damage the Volunteers' chance in the first evening game.

Please share your thoughts about today's action in the comments, after you sign up for a free SB Nation account, of course.

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