The NCAA Tournament doesn’t get going until March 19, but for the real college hoops fans, the days leading up to Selection Sunday is when the madness really begins. Over the next two weeks teams will fight for the postseason lives. Bubbles will burst and tickets will be punched, and Cinderellas will be born. This is the real March Madness.
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Here’s what to watch for on Friday.
Game of the Night: Eastern Kentucky vs. Murray State
The two best OVC teams not named Belmont square off in the nightcap of the OVC tournament on Friday night in Nashville. The Colonels won the only meeting between the two schools during league play. Last time out, Isaiah Canaan dropped 24 points, but two EKU players scored twenty as well. It’s likely that Murray State gets invited to one of the smaller postseason tournaments, but nonetheless, it’s also possible that this could be Isaiah Canaan’s final game as a collegiate player.
Player to Watch: Colt Ryan, Evansville
The last time Evansville was on the hardwood, Colt Ryan dropped 31 points on the very same Indiana State team he faces today. Ryan is the best scorer in the MVC not named Doug McDermott. The senior guard has only failed to score at least 20 points in just one of his last ten games, and is averaging 28ppg in his last four.
Three teams with at least 20 losses won games in their conference tournament, and two of those teams still remain alive. Liberty (13-20) defeated No.1-seed High Point in the Big South Quarterfinals and will now face No.2-seed Gardner-Webb in the semifinals on Saturday. Loyola Marymount (10-22) defeated both Portland and San Francisco in the WCC Tournament and face Santa Clara tonight. Prior to beating Portland, the Lions had not won in 55 days. They’ve now won on back-to-back nights.
Atlantic Sun Conference Semifinals
2:30 p.m. – USC-Upstate (5) vs. Mercer (1)
8:30 p.m. – Stetson (3) vs. Florida Gulf Coast (2)
Horizon League Quarterfinals
6 p.m. – Youngstown State (6) vs. Wright State (3)
8:30 p.m. – Illinois-Chicago (5) vs. Green Bay (4)
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference First Round
7:30 p.m. – Siena (9) vs. Marist (8)
9:30 p.m. – St. Peter’s (10) vs. Fairfield (7)
Missouri Valley Conference Quarterfinals
1:05 p.m. – Drake (9) vs. Creighton (1)
3:30 p.m. – Indiana State (5) vs. Evansville (4)
7 p.m. – Missouri State (7) vs. Wichita State (2)
9:30 p.m. – Illinois State (6) vs. Northern Iowa (3)
Ohio Valley Conference Semifinals
7 p.m. – Tennessee State (4) vs. Belmont (1)
9 p.m. – Eastern Kentucky (3) vs. Murray State (2)
Southern Conference First Round
11:30 a.m – Georgia Southern (9) vs. Wofford (8)
1:30 p.m. – Furman (12) vs. Samford (5)
6 p.m. – UNC-Greensboro (10) vs. Chattanooga (7)
8 p.m. – The Citadel (11) vs. Western Carolina (6)
Sun Belt Conference First Round
7 p.m. – Louisiana-Monroe (11) vs. Western Kentucky (6)
7:30 p.m. – North Texas (9) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8)
9:30 p.m. – Troy (10) vs. Florida Atlantic (7)
West Coast Conference Quarterfinals
9 p.m. – Loyola Marymount (9) vs. Santa Clara (4)
11:30 p.m. – San Diego (6) vs. BYU (3)
You can find Troy Machir on Twitter at @TroyMachir