Fourteen teams have booked their place...
13 more will join them today...
In terms of punching tickets, Saturday is the busiest day of the Championship Festival, as nearly as many teams will play their way in over the past seven days combined. Broadcast info for all of those games, along with the four sets of conference semifinals on the day's slate, is after the jump.
Conference USA Final
at El Paso, Texas
Host UTEP advanced to the final by handling No. 2 Tulsa, the highest remaining seed in the tournament heading into Friday. It's the second championship game appearance in a row for the Miners, who lost to Houston last year, but still earned an at-large. Their opponent will be a Memphis team they hammered by 27 two weeks ago. The Tigers advanced by blowing out an East Carolina team they lost to on March 2nd.
America East Final
With the Seawolves disposing of top seed Vermont in Sunday's semifinals, regular season runner-up BU hosts the championship game. The Terriers are in search of their first bid since 2002, while Stony Brook, last season's America East regular season champs, have never been. Boston U won both regular season meetings, winning by five at home on January 20th, then completing the sweep with a 13-point win on Long Island two weeks and a day later.
at Winston-Salem, NC
Two-time defending MEAC champs Morgan State will be looking for a third bid in a row today. Todd Bozeman's Bears sent regular season champ Bethune-Cookman to the NIT with a 61-48 win. To get to the tournament again, Morgan State will need to defeat Hampton, who blew Norfolk State out Friday night, winning by 24. The Pirates defeated the Bears in their only regular-season meeting.
Ivy League Playoff
at New Haven, CT
Typically, the Ivy League winner is the very first team to clinch a bid. This season, it will be among the last, thanks to the Crimson's win over the Tigers Saturday (in combination with Princeton's win at Penn Tuesday). The Ivy League doesn't use built-in tiebreakers, preferring to settle things on the court. So, these two will meet at Yale's Lee Amphitheater with the season series and bid on the line. Harvard is looking for its first bid since 1948, back when the NCAA Tournament played second fiddle to the NIT. Princeton's drought isn't as long, as they last appeared in 2004 under current Georgetown coach John Thompson III. Still, that's a long time for a team that's used to winning Ivy crowns.
at Katy, TX
An unpredictable Southland campaign will end today with either first-place McNeese State or a UTSA team that finished just two games behind them in the overall standings, claiming the crown. The Roadrunners won the only meeting between the two in the regular season, a 65-61 home win on February 16th. Both teams last reached the Dance earlier in the millennium, with UTSA advancing in 2004 and McNeese representing the Southland two years earlier.
Big 12 Final
at Kansas City
On Friday, Kansas continued their pursuit of a double Big 12 crown, but they struggled for a second game in a row, defeating Colorado by just seven to advance to Saturday night's final. The Jayhawks will look to avenge an earlier loss to Texas in that matchup, as the Longhorns took out Texas A&M to advance.
at Los Angeles
Arizona fought off a USC team that was missing coach Kevin O'Neill, thanks to an altercation with an Arizona booster, to move on to the final, while seriously damaging the Trojans' at-large hopes. The Wildcats next meet a Washington team that ended Oregon Ducks, 's run. The Huskies and Wildcats split their two regular season meetings, with UW winning easily in Seattle and the Cats claiming a thriller in Tucson.
Sixth-seeded Akron will meet rival Kent State in tonight's MAC final. The Zips upended West Division champ and No. 2 overall seed Western Michigan, 79-68, while the Flashes eliminated Ball State. The two split their meetings this season, with each winning at home, and Kent State claiming a victory to close the regular season.
Mountain West Final
at Las Vegas
Top seed BYU finally managed to beat New Mexico, while looking the best they have without Brandon Davies, to advance to tonight's MWC final. The Cougars wouldn't have made it if it wasn't for Jimmer Fredette, who scored more than 50 for the first time in his career, reaching 52 on the night. Next up for BYU, a third game with San Diego State, a team they swept in the regular season. The Aztecs needed a D.J. Gay jumper with a little less than 5 seconds left to eliminate host UNLV.
Big West Final
The top seeds from Long Beach ended UC Riverside's short Cinderella run, upending the Highlanders by 11 in the first semifinal of the night. Now, the only thing separating a the 49ers from their first Tournament bid since 2007 is a third win over UCSB. The Gauchos handled No. 3 seed Cal St.-Northridge in the night's other semifinal.
at Garland, TX
Grambling has a shot at earning its first-ever NCAA bid after they knocked off No. 2 Jackson State in OT in Friday's first SWAC semifinal. The Tigers will take on Alabama State, who upset runaway regular season winners No. 1 Texas Southern in the second semifinal. Again, these two split their regular season series, but the Tigers claimed a one-point home win to close the regular season.
Big East Final
at New York
Well, it wasn't a six OT classic, but UConn did need an extra session to end Syracuse's Big East tourney run, and extend their own. The Huskies will play their fifth game in five days Saturday when they take on Louisville for the title. The Cardinals also needed OT to beat Notre Dame a number one seed. These two met twice in the regular season with the Cards taking both meetings.
at Las Vegas
Games air on ACC Network and are streamed at TheACC.com in ACC Territory and appear on ESPN in the rest of the country.
Friday's action in Greensboro started with a thrilling North Carolina comeback, as the Tar Heels, down 16 midway through the second half, topped Miami, 61-59, to keep their slim hopes for a top seed alive. UNC will take on Clemson in the first semifinal of the day, after the Tigers handled Boston College in a bubble game. Game two will see Duke attempt to avenge their loss to Virginia Tech two weeks ago. The Hokies barely survived their game against Florida State as Derwin Kitchen's game winner at the buzzer was waived off, a millisecond too late.
Atlantic 10 Semifinals
at Atlantic City, NJ
Both games air on CBS College Sports.
Play opened in Atlantic City with a shocker, as Dayton build a big lead, then held off a Xavier Musketeers rally to win, 68-67, and advance to Saturday's first semifinal. The Flyers will play 12 seed St. Joe's who eliminated No. 4 Duquesne in an overtime thriller. Temple, the highest remaining seed, blew out Big Five rivals La Salle to advance. The Owls will take on Richmond who beat Rhode Island, 55-45, to move closer to a bid of their own.
Big Ten Semifinals
Both games air on CBS.
The slow starts that plagued top seeds on this Friday got to Ohio State too, as they needed OT to eliminate No. 8 seed Northwestern Wildcats, 67-61, a game that turned on Luka Mirkovic's technical (and disqualification) with three minutes left in the extra session. The Buckeyes will take on ancient rivals Michigan, who came from behind to beat Illinois in a three-point shot-filled festival. Michigan State picked up a key win in eliminating Purdue, a victory that set up a semifinal with Penn State, who managed only 35 points in their win over Wisconsin who scored 33.
Both games air on ABC.
Alabama moved one step closer to the NCAA Tournament by topping Georgia, 65-59 in overtime, after a long game-winning runner by the Bulldogs' Dustin Ware was not counted with 0.8 seconds left in regulation, thanks to Mark Fox calling timeout. The Bulldogs' hopes aren't dead yet, but they're on life support, particularly with no more games left to play.
The Crimson Tide will get a chance to grab another quality win against Kentucky, who eliminated Mississippi to close the evening session. Florida topped Tennessee for the third time this season to book a semifinal date with another team they'd like to beat for a third time, Vanderbilt, six-point winners over Mississippi State.
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