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Mid-major madness: NCAA Tournament bids up for grabs

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March 6th, 2020

The power conferences start their tournaments next week, but there are automatic bids for the NCAA Tournament up for grabs in conference tourneys this weekend. Let's take a look at some mid-major conferences ahead of the Big Dance.

Mountain West 

Semifinal matchups

#1 San Diego State Aztecs (29-1) vs. #5 Boise State Broncos (21-11)

#2 Utah State Aggies (25-8) vs. #11 Wyoming Cowboys (10-23)

Utah State is the defending champion, and there was buzz about the Aggies early in the season, before they dropped four of their first five games of 2020. While San Diego State has received much of the attention nationally, Utah State won six of its last seven headed into the conference tournament and could be poised for an upset of the Aztecs.

Also keep an eye on a Cinderella Wyoming squad, which pulled off an upset of Nevada in Thursday night’s quarterfinal.

Ohio Valley

Semifinal matchups

#1 Belmont Bruins (24-7) vs. #4 Eastern Kentucky Colonels (17-16)

#2 Murray State Racers (22-8) vs. #3 Austin Peay Governors (22-11)

Since 2014 the third or fourth seed has won the the Ohio Valley’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, so there’s potential for an upset.

While Belmont is the favorite and top seed, Tevin Brown has done his part to fill the hole left by Ja Morant for Murray State. Brown is averaging 17.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. If the Racers make a run, it will be dependent on Brown’s continued success.

Atlantic Sun

Championship game matchup

#1 Liberty Flames (29-4) vs. #3 Lipscomb Bisons (16-15)

Liberty and Lipscomb will face off in the Atlantic Sun Tournament championship for the second consecutive year.

Lipscomb earned its spot in the title game with a thrilling win over North Florida on Thursday night. Ahsan Asadullah tied the game at 71-71 with 41 seconds remaining, and Andrew Fleming hit a layup with three seconds on the clock to secure a 73-71 win.

While Liberty was the top-seeded team, Lipscomb is riding high off a big win and could carry that momentum into Sunday afternoon’s contest.

Big South

Semifinal matchups

#1 Radford Highlanders (22-10) vs. #5 Hampton Pirates (15-18)

#2 Winthrop Eagles (23-10) vs. #3 Gardner-Webb Bulldogs (17-15)

Defense wins championships, or so we’ve heard. If you buy into that adage, Radford is the team to back. The Highlanders held Charleston Southern to 48 points in the quarterfinals Thursday night, the fewest total by any Division I opponent the Radford faced this year. Radford is holding opponents to 65.5 points per game on 41% shooting.


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