Championship Festival Go-Round: March 6, 2011

Three are in.

120px-unca_medium 120px-belmont_medium 120px-moreheadstateeagles_medium

65 spots are left to be filled.

UNC Asheville clinched the first bid of the season, defeating Coastal Carolina, 60-47, in the Big South final in Conway, S.C. That's the second consecutive season the Chanticleers' NCAA dream died on their home floor. They'll advance to the NIT, while the Bulldogs are a strong candidate to head to Dayton for the Opening Round.

Belmont became entrant number two when they throttled Cinderella North Florida, 87-46,  in the Atlantic Sun Championship in Macon, Ga.

The Ohio Valley crown and third ticket to the Dance goes to Morehead State, led by rebounding machine Kenneth Faried. The Eagles ended Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles' season with a win.

Princeton could have been the fourth team to book a place, but they lost at Harvard, 79-67. That means we're likely to see an Ivy playoff late next week, if the Tigers beat Penn Tuesday night. If the Orange and Black lose, the Crimson get the bid.

One tournament played its semifinals last night, but will take a few days off before crowning a champion Tuesday night. No. 2 seed and bubble team Butler advanced to that game by topping Cleveland State for the third time this season, 76-68. The Bulldogs will face the top seed and host Milwaukee who took out four seed Valparaiso, 70-63.

The Big Sky tournament also opened with two campus site opening round games. No. 4 Northern Arizona advanced to Tuesday's semifinals by beating fifth seeded Montana State. The Lumberjacks will face host and top seed Northern Colorado. Semifinal two will feature second seed Montana and No. 3 Weber State, who defeated Eastern Washington in Ogden.

After the jump, a look ahead to today's conference tournament action, which will feature one championship game. For info on the final regular season games of the year, check out my other post for the day.

Missouri Valley Final

at St. Louis

No. 3 Indiana St. Sycamores vs. No. 1 Missouri St Bears, CBS (2 p.m. ET)

Just like in Friday's quarterfinal, Missouri State got behind early to No. 4 Creighton, but didn't need a last-second shot to grab a 10-point win. On the other hand, second seed Wichita State couldn't come back against Indiana State, who will look to return to the tournament for the first time since 2001. The Bears and Sycamores split their season series, with each winning at home.

America East Semifinals

at Hartford

Both games air on ESPN3 and Full Court.

No. 5 Stony Brook Seawolves vs. No. 1 Vermont Catamounts , 5 p.m. ET
No. 6 Hartford Hawks  vs. No. 2 Boston U. Terriers, approx. 7:30 p.m. ET

The Seawolves pulled off the mini upset of No. 4 Albany, while Vermont had a more difficult time than anticipated with Binghamton. The Catamounts swept Stony Brook in the regular season. The two seed, Boston University, needed a big second half to top No. 7 New Hampshire, but third-seeded Maine wasn't so lucky, as they lost to host Hartford by three. The Terriers lost to the Hawks on January 22nd at Chase Arena, Hartford's only win in a six-game stretch.

CAA Semifinals

at Richmond

All games air on various Comcast stations in the Mid-Atlantic and nationally on ESPN3 and Full Court.

No. 4 VCU Rams vs. No. 1 George Mason Patriots, 12 p.m. ET
No. 3 Hofstra Pride vs. No. 2 Old Dominion Monarchs, approx. 2:30 p.m. ET

All four bye teams moved on after slow starts. The top seeded Patriots used a 42-9 finishing run to dispatch Georgia State. VCU, on the other hand, got all they could handle from Drexel up until the end, needing a Jamie Skeen bucket at the buzzer to beat the Dragons after two Chris Fouch threes tied it up late. Old Dominion struggled with Delaware in another physical contest, but advances to Sunday where they'll meet fourth-seeded Hofstra, who used a big second half to get past William & Mary.

MAAC Semifinals

at Bridgeport, CT

All games air on MAACSports.com, MSG2, ESPN3, and Full Court

No. 4 St. Peter's Peacocks vs. No. 1 Fairfield Stags, 2 p.m. ET
No. 3 Rider Broncs vs. No. 2 Iona Gaels, approx. 4:30 p.m. ET

The Peacocks eliminated No. 5 Loyola to set up a meeting with the host Stags, who had no trouble with Marist, winning 55-31. The Red Foxes' total was the lowest in MAAC Tournament history. Two seed Iona knocked out three-time defending champ Siena by blowing them out by 30, while No. 3 Rider ensured chalk ruled the day by beating Canisius by 15 in the nightcap.

NEC Semifinals

Both games air on FCS Atlantic. Correction: Looks like only game 2 is on TV.

No. 4 Cent. Connecticut St. Blue Devils  vs. No. 1 Long Island U. Blackbirds, 12 p.m. ET
No. 3 Robert Morris Colonials vs. No. 2 Quinnipiac Bobcats, 2 p.m. ET (MSG/ESPN3/Full Court)

The top four seeds all advanced to the semifinals by winning homecourt quarterfinals on Thursday night. The winners meet at the higher seed's arena for the NCAA bid on Wednesday night. The two home teams are favored Sunday, as LIU swept CCSU during the regular season, and Quinnipiac won their only meeting with Robert Morris, beating the Colonials at home on January 27th.

Patriot League Semifinals

Both games air on CBS College Sports.

No. 6 Lafayette Leopards at No. 2 American U. Eagles, 5 p.m. ET
No. 4 Lehigh Mountain Hawks at No. 1 Bucknell Bison, 7:30 p.m. ET

The top two seeds will look to advance to Friday's final, which will be hosted by the highest remaining seed. Neither home team fell to their respective opponent during the regular season.

Southern Conference Semifinals

at Chattanooga

S2 Wofford Terriers vs. N1 Western Carolina Catamounts, 6 p.m. ET
S3 Furman Paladins vs. S1 College of Charleston Cougars, approx. 8:30 p.m. ET

Form held in the first two quarterfinals, as Wofford took care of UNC Greensboro, while Western Carolina eliminated Appalachian State. However, host Chattanooga is finished after they fell to Furman, 61-52. The Paladins will next meet College of Charleston, who has to be happy the Mocs are out, after falling to them at McKenzie Arena earlier this season and in the final of the 2009 SoCon Tourney.

Wofford beat Western Carolina in their only regular season meeting, while Charleston swept division foe Furman.

West Coast Semifinals

at Las Vegas

Both games air on ESPN2

No. 4 Santa Clara Broncos vs. No. 1 St. Mary's, Calif. Gaels, 8 p.m. ET
No. 3 San Francisco Dons vs. No. 2 Gonzaga Bulldogs, approx. 10:30 p.m. ET

Santa Clara ended last place Loyola Marymount's run, setting up a semifinal with a St. Mary's team they didn't beat in the regular season. Meanwhile, two seed Gonzaga faces a Don team who they famously split with.

Summit League Quarterfinals

at Sioux Falls, SD

Both games air on Midco Sports Net, ESPN3, and Full Court.

No. 5 South Dakota St. Jackrabbits vs. No. 4 IPFW Mastodons, 7 p.m. ET
No. 6 UMKC Kangaroos vs. No. 3 IUPUI Jaguars, approx. 9:30 p.m. ET

Top seed Oakland cruised last night, hammering Southern Utah, while two seed Oral Roberts just got by North Dakota State, winning by seven. Seeds three through seven play their quarterfinals this evening.

Sun Belt Quarterfinals

at Hot Springs, AR

All four games will be streamed on Sun Belt Extra.

E3 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. W2 Louisiana Ragin Cajuns, 7:30 p.m. ET
W4 North Texas Mean Green vs. E1 Florida Atlantic Owls, 7:45 p.m. ET
E6 Florida International Golden Panthers vs. E2 Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, approx. 10 p.m. ET
E4 South Alabama Jaguars vs. W1 Arkansas St. Red Wolves, approx. 9:45 p.m. ET

Yesterday, I forgot to include the Sun Belt Opening Round. Today, that conference reaches the quarterfinal stage with the top two in each division joining the action. There are two courts at the site in Hot Springs, which means simultaneous games! There was one upset on Saturday, as West 3 seed Denver fell to Isiah Thomas' FIU Panthers.

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

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