Conference tournament brackets: Saint Mary's steals WCC, Northern Kentucky and North Dakota State also in the Big Dance - CBS Sports
13 Mar, 2019
13 Mar, 2019
13 Mar, 2019
Well, we have a stunner. On Tuesday night in the WCC final, second-seeded Saint Mary's -- which had little-to-no-chance at earning an at-large bid with a loss to No. 1 Gonzaga in the championship game -- upset Gonzaga 60-47 to earn the automatic bid and give the program its seventh NCAA Tournament appearance in 18 seasons under Randy Bennett. It was the school's first win over a No. 1-ranked team in history. In fact: Saint Mary's had been 1-35 all-time against top 10 teams before beating No. 1 Gonzaga to win WCC tournament title and NCAA bid.
Saint Mary's snapped Gonzaga's perfect run in WCC and potentially put the Zags' No. 1 seed outlook in peril. We'll have to wait and see on Selection Sunday. It's still a crowded field for the top line; as of Thursday morning, the only true luck for a No. 1 seed is Virginia. SMC was one of five teams to get a bid on Tuesday night. Here are all the others that will have their name called by Greg Gumbel on Sunday.
In the early window, No. 2 Northern Kentucky was dominant from the outset of the Horizon League title game, beating No. 1 Wright State 77-66 and avenging last season's champ-game defeat. This is the second Big Dance appearance in three seasons for the Norse, who are not even a decade into Division I existence. John Brannen is an underrated coach.
In the NEC title game, No. 2 Fairleigh Dickinson defeated No. 1 St. Francis (PA) 85-76 on the Red Flash's home floor, giving the Knights their second NCAA tourney appearance under coach Greg Herenda; FDU last made it into the big bracket in 2016. The NEC title game is often a dramatic one, but FDU controlled St. Francis most of the night. It's FDU's sixth appearance in the NCAAs.
And in the CAA final, No. 1 Hofstra fell at the hands of Vasa Pusica and No. 2 Northeastern, 82-74. Pusica was out of his mind, sinking seven 3-pointers and downing the Pride and their standout senior, Justin Wright-Foreman, who is the second leading scorer in college basketball this season (27.0). For Northeastern, it's the Huskies' second trip under coach Bill Coen, the first coming back in 2015.
Meantime, the Summit League championship saw No. 4 North Dakota State upset No. 2 Omaha 73-63 to make its second NCAAs in five seasons under Dave Richman. The Bison figure to be a 16 seed. Incredibly, just two out of 11 leagues have seen their No. 1 seed win the auto bid: Wofford in the SoCon and Iona in the MAAC. Check below our schedule table to see what teams are already dancing come next week and from which leagues.
MAAC: Iona The MAAC Tournament championship game went to Iona for the fourth straight season. Tim Cluess' Gaels won 81-60 over Monmouth in a No. 1 vs. No. 6 matchup. Iona has made the NCAAs in six out of nine seasons under Cluess, making them one of the most consistent mid-major programs of the past decade. Iona is likely to be a 16 seed in what's been a good year, but this is not a vintage, high-level-offense Gaels squad.
SOCON: Wofford The Wofford Terriers will take a 20-game winning streak and the Southern Conference automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament with what's surely to be a quality seed. The Terriers came back to win on Monday night against UNC Greensboro, 70-58, in the SoCon title game. In doing so, Mike Young's team could bump up another seed line. Heading into the title game, Jerry Palm projected Wofford as an 8 seed. Might a 7 or a 6 be possible? Why not? This is the fifth NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, all coming since 2010.
ATLANTIC SUN: Liberty The Liberty Flames are on their way to the fourth Big Dance in school history. Liberty won at top-seeded Lipscomb for the second time this season, doing so in a game that featured 23 lead changes. A 74-68 final means the 2018-19 Flames squad joins the 1993-94, 2003-04 and 2012-13 teams to break on through to the big bracket. A 13 seed is likely for the 28-6 Flames. Liberty won in spite of what was unequivocally the most hilarious and egregious flop in college basketball this season.
BIG SOUTH: Gardner-Webb On Sunday afternoon, Gardner-Webb defeated second-seeded Radford -- the reigning Big South tourney champs -- to make its first NCAA Tournament in program history. The Runnin' Bulldogs earned it: prior to beating Radford, Gardner-Webb upended top-seeded Campbell on its home floor in the Big South semis. The tourney newcomers figure to land as a 16 seed on Selection Sunday.
MISSOURI VALLEY: Bradley In the Missouri Valley Tournament, Bradley made history: the Braves scored just 15 points by halftime against Northern Iowa, then roared back from an 18-point deficit to pull off the biggest comeback victory in MVC title game history. The final: 57-54. The Braves will be in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 13 years. Back in 2006, Bradley was in via an at-large; Sunday's victory is the first conference tournament championship for the school since 1988. Bradley will either be a 15 or 16 seed depending on how the low-major conference tournaments unfold in the coming week.
OHIO VALLEY: Murray State On Saturday night, the Ohio Valley Conference tourney handed out the first of 68 bids to the 2019 NCAAs. Murray State played a strong game and won 77-65 over top-seeded Belmont, creating an interesting bubble debate in the process. Murray State's win means Ja Morant, a potential top-five pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, will be back in the NCAAs for a second consecutive season. The Racers, who figure to be a 13 seed, will be must-watch no matter what team they wind up against in the first round. With Morant's talent, this squad is obviously a prime candidate for one a first-weekend Cinderella story. At 27-4, Matt McMahon's team poses a real threat to just about anyone it will see in the NCAA Tournament. The Racers will have the longest official wait of any team until
Selection Sunday: eight days.
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