The Big South was a soul crusher today for the schools looking to make history for the first time, as both Gardner Webb and Longwood bowed out in quarterfinal action today. However, just up the road, Lipscomb picked up an Atlantic Sun semifinal win and will now only have the conference juggernaut Florida Gulf Coast standing between them and Selection Sunday. Quinnipiac also picked up a win in MAAC first round action. We have 27 programs still in play from The List.
The Ohio Valley saw Tennessee Tech end their run today, and the seventh longest drought will tack on another year. Jacksonville, Marist, Charleston Southern, Navy, Campbell, Eastern Illinois and Evansville also dropped a postseason game to prolong their dry spells as well. A quick shout out to Rutgers for knocking off Indiana, and the 14 seed lives another day in the Big Ten tournament. They’ll take on Purdue in quarterfinal action tomorrow, and again the Scarlet Knights are the Power 6 Drought leader with 26 straight tournament misses.
We’re now up to eight tournaments in action tomorrow. The Big Ten will have four quarterfinal games, the Ohio Valley has two semifinals, and the Big South will feature two semifinals. Some broader notes on the remaining brackets follow below.
The MAAC splits their quarterfinals into two nights with the top two seeds taking the floor Friday. The top seed Rider has not been invited to the NCAAs since 1994, while the second seed Canisius is just a couple years behind at 1996. Canisius will be facing Quinnipiac who as mentioned above has never made the field.
The Valley has four quarterfinals tomorrow and the top seed starts things off the first game. Loyola is the one seed, and also has the longest drought in the conference, with their last appearance coming in 1985. The one seed has not lost in Arch Madness, so there is plenty of pressure for the Ramblers in this one against Northern Iowa. Illinois State and Missouri State have some reasonable long droughts as well, and can be found in the two games in the evening session.
The Southern Conference tournament begins tomorrow, and like the Big South will also be in Asheville, North Carolina. In the first game The Citadel will begin the journey to extricate themselves from the Futile Foursome. Their opponent will be the VMI Keydets who have a bit of history as well. They have made three trips, but none since 1977. Samford will take on Chattanooga in the second first round game looking for their first trip to the NCAAs since 2000.
The Horizon begins first round games in Detroit. Youngstown State is the only league member without an NCAA appearance in 36 years of Division I existence.
Finally, the West Coast Conference slides into Las Vegas with two first round games. Loyola Marymount hasn’t made the Dance since the Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble days in 1990. The Lions will take on Portland in the first game, and the Pilots will also be looking for their first trip since 1996. In the second first round game Santa Clara will be looking to punch their first ticket since 1996 when some point guard named Steve Nash was running the show. The Broncos will be taking on the Pepperdine Waves who have not made the NCAA tournament since 2002. Weird, it’s almost like a team or two have been dominating this league for some time.
Notable Games (predictions in italics, 4-0 tonight, 0-1 from pending games previous night, 73-46 overall, 1 game pending from tonight)
Friday's top five as I see them:
#5 Eastern Michigan at Toledo- Toledo 75, Eastern Michigan 71
#4 Michigan vs Nebraska- Michigan 70, Nebraska 68
#3 Jacksonville State vs Murray State- Murray State 72, Jacksonville State 69
#2 Ohio State vs Penn State- Ohio State 71, Penn State 70
#1 Rhode Island at Davidson- Davidson 73, Rhode Island 71