It's the hump day of Championship Week and the field of 65 is really starting to take shape. Three teams booked their Dance tickets on Tuesday night, in an evening of games that more than made up for a lackluster Monday of action.
Summit - North Dakota State qualified at their first attempt. Ben Woodside hit a pullup jumper just inside the old three-point line with 3.3 seconds left to beat Oakland, 66-64, as Johnathon Jones' 3-point attempt to win bounced off the rim. The Bison played from behind most of the game and showed a tremendous amount of grit to pull it off.
Horizon - The Horizon will be a two bid league this year, as Cleveland State knocked off Butler in a true battle at Hinkle, 57-54. Cedric Jackson had 19 for the Vikings, going 4 for 8 from three-point land.
Sun Belt - Western Kentucky is back in the tournament for the second straight year, after they knocked off South Alabama, 64-56. It didn't seem like it would be much of a game in the first half, as the Hilltoppers jumped out to a double-digit lead, but the Jaguars, spurred along by DeAndre Coleman's 27, actually took the lead with 13 minutes left in the second. The game went back and forth for a few minutes, but WKU ended up taking a five-point lead with 7:30 left that they never relinquished.
Two teams will qualify tonight.
Northeast (ESPN2, 8:30 EDT) - Top seed Robert Morris hosts #2 Mount Saint Mary's. The Colonials are looking to make it to the tournament for the first time, while the Mountaineers won the Opening Round game last season. The Colonials swept the Mount this year, winning by 7 in Emmitsburg and 3 in Moon Township.
Big Sky (ESPN2, 10:30 EDT) - Second seeded Portland State defeated Idaho State, 61-53, and is now the favorite, as sixth-seeded Montana State upset regular season champ Weber State, 70-61, to make the final. The Vikings and Bobcats split their two meetings during the regular season, with each winning on their home floor.
Major conference tournaments are just getting started too. The Big East enters its second day of competition at MSG. Providence's resume isn't going to be helped by facing DePaul, 67-57 winners over Cincinnati. That was the Blue Demons first win over Big East competition this season. In other games in New York, St. John's, who ended Georgetown's tournament hopes, 64-59, faces Marquette. Notre Dame, a 61-50 winner over the SUNJ, looks to get another win for their resume as they face West Virginia. Syracuse faces Seton Hall, 68-54 winner over South Florida, in the nightcap.
The Mountain West, Pacific 10, and Atlantic 10 (and apparently the Big 12 too, so they can have their final) also open up today, but there aren't any games with bubble implications in those tournaments (aside from Texas and Texas A&M's matchups in the Big 12), so we'll talk more about them tomorrow.