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Championship Festival Go-Round: March 8, 2011

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Eight is not yet enough...

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60 spots remain to be filled...

Monday night started with two epic championship games on the Eastern Seaboard.

In the Metro Atlantic No. 4 St. Peter's Peacocks followed up their upset of top seed (and host) Fairfield by holding off No. 2 Iona, 62-57, to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1995, when they earned a 15 seed. The Peacocks topped Alabama at the Paradise Jam back before Thanksgiving, so they could give someone a game next week. Down in Richmond in the CAA final, Old Dominion had an 18-point lead on No. 4 VCU at one point, but the Rams' comeback fell short, despite the best efforts of an energetic pro-VCU crowd at Richmond Coliseum. The Monarchs take the auto bid, and likely send their archrivals down the NIT, with a 70-65 victory.

Later in the evening, action moved South and West. Wofford, the defending Southern Conference champ and two seed in the South Division topped division champ College of Charleston, 77-67, to earn their second trip in a row, and ever, to the Tournament. Remember the Terriers gave four seed Wisconsin all they could handle in the First Round in Jacksonville last year.

No. 1 seed St. Mary's had some foul issues in the second half, which allowed rivals Gonzaga Bulldogs to take control of their West Coast Conference championship matchup and earn the auto bid, . The Gaels have a rare post-conference tournament game coming up against Weber State on March 11th, but they'll have to wait for Selection Sunday to see if they're good enough to get in.

After the jump, a look at the Tuesday schedule, which features three conference finals.

Sun Belt Final

at Hot Springs, AR

W5 Ark.-Little Rock Trojans vs. W4 North Texas Mean Green, ESPN2 (7 p.m. ET).

The Mean Green, preseason favorites, are in the final after taking care of Western Kentucky, 81-62, in Monday's first semifinal. They'll take on West Division rivals UALR, who stunned Middle Tennessee, the only bye team who made the semifinals. North Texas won both meetings between the two during the regular season.

Horizon League Final

at Milwaukee

No. 2 Butler Bulldogs vs, No. 1 Wis.-Milwaukee Panthers, ESPN (9 p.m. ET)

The Panthers will look to defeat the Bulldogs for a third time this season and book the Horizon's automatic bid . If Butler loses, will it have enough on its profile to earn an at-large?

Summit League Final

at Sioux Falls, SD

No. 2 Oral Roberts Golden Eagles vs. No. 1 Oakland Golden Grizzlies, ESPN2 (9 p.m. ET)

The top seeded Golden Grizzlies rolled No. 5 South Dakota State to reach the final, winning 110-90. The final hurdle between Oakland and the NCAAs is two seed Oral Roberts, who took out No. 3 seed IUPUI, the only team to beat the Grizzlies in the Summit regular season, .

The Big Sky conference reaches its semifinal stage with the doubleheader to be played at top seed Northern Colorado. The Bears are looking for their first ever NCAA bid. The other three teams involved have all made the Tournament before, including defending champion Montana, the two seed.

Big Sky Semifinals

at Greeley, CO

Both games air on Altitude and CSN Northwest.

No. 3 Weber St. Wildcats vs. No. 2 Montana Grizzlies, 6:30 p.m. ET
No. 4 Northern Arizona Lumberjacks vs. No. 1 Northern Colorado Bears, approx. 9 p.m. ET

The bottom half of the Big East begins that conference's marathon tournament with a quadruple-header this afternoon and evening at Madison Square Garden.

Big East Opening Round

at New York

No. 16 DePaul Blue Demons vs. No. 9 Connecticut Huskies, ESPN2 (12 p.m. ET)
No. 13 Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. No. 12 Seton Hall Pirates, ESPN2 (approx 2:30 p.m. ET)
No. 15 South Florida Bulls vs. No. 10 Villanova Wildcats, ESPNU (7 p.m. ET)
No. 14 Providence Friars vs. No. 11 Marquette Golden Eagles, ESPNU (approx. 9:30 p.m. ET)

The Atlantic 10 and Mid-American Tournaments open with campus site first round action today. Winners in the A-10 advance to Friday's quarterfinals in Atlantic City, while the MAC teams will play in quarterfinals in Cleveland on Thursday.

Atlantic 10 Opening Round

No. 9 Dayton Flyers at No. 8 UMass Minutemen, 9 p.m. ET (CBS College Sports)
No. 12 St. Joseph's Hawks at No. 5 George Washington Colonials, 7 p.m. ET (CBS College Sports)
No. 10 La Salle Explorers at No. 7 St. Bonaventure Bonnies, 5 p.m. ET (CBS College Sports)
No. 11 Saint Louis Billikens at No. 6 Rhode Island Rams, 7 p.m. ET

MAC Opening Round

No. 9 Central Michigan Chippewas at No. 8 Buffalo Bulls, 7 p.m. ET
No. 12 Toledo Rockets at No. 5 Ohio Bobcats, 7 p.m. ET
No. 10 Northern Illinois Huskies at No. 7 Bowling Green Falcons, 7 p.m. ET
No. 11 Eastern Michigan Eagles at No. 6 Akron Zips, 7 p.m. ET

The MEAC Tournament also opens this evening in Winston-Salem, with the two opening round winners moving on to quarterfinals on Wednesday.

MEAC Opening Round

at Winston-Salem, NC

No. 10 Md.-Eastern Shore Hawks vs. No. 7 Florida A&M Rattlers, 6:30 p.m. ET
No. 9 S. Carolina St. Bulldogs vs. No. 8 Delaware St. Hornets, approx. 9 p.m. ET

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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