photo by Ray Acevedo, Valpo Athletics

The Little Dances: Championship Week Day 8 preview

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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.

(CLICK HERE to browse through all of our conference tournament previews)

Here’s what to watch for on Tuesday.

Game of the Night: North Dakota State vs. South Dakota State
It’s a good ole fashioned border war in the Summit League finals as the Fightin’ Nate Wolters of South Dakota State take on the Fightin’ Taylor Brauns of North Dakota State. The two squads split the regular season series, with both teams holding serve on their home courts. SDSU likes to get out and run, NDSU wants to turn this into a dogfight.

Player to Watch: Ryan Broekhoff, Valparaiso
The senior forward has the driving force behind Valparaiso’s recent success during his collegiate career and is coming off of a 25-point performance against Green Bay in the Horizon League semifinals. But Broekhoff is still looking for his first trip to the NCAA dance. If he can put the Crusaders on his back once more, he will finally be able to get fitted for dancing shoes.

Miscellaneous Madness:
The Mountain West Conference tournament tips off tonight with Wyoming versus Nevada. Most of the pundits agree that the MWC tournament has the potential to be the most entertaining and unpredictable championship week event. Do not miss a minute of this.

Saturday Schedule:

Big East Conference First Round
7 p.m. – South Florida (13) vs. Seton hall (12)
9 p.m. – DePaul (14) vs. Rutgers (11)

Horizon League Finals
9 p.m. – Wright State (3) at Valparaiso (1) ESPN

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference First Round
4 p.m. – Coppin State (9) vs. Bethune-Cookman (8)
6:30 p.m. – Florida A&M (10) vs. North Carolina A&T (7)
9 p.m. – Howard (11) vs. Delaware State (6)

Mountain West Conference First Round
8 p.m. – Nevada (9) vs. Wyoming (8)

Northeast Conference Finals
7 p.m. – Mt. St. Mary’s (5) at LIU-Brooklyn (3) ESPN2

Summit League Finals
9 p.m. – North Dakota State (3) vs. South Dakota State (1)ESPN2

Western Athletic Conference First Round
9 p.m. – Seattle (10) vs. Texas State (7)
11:30 p.m. – UT-San Antonio (9) vs. San Jose State (8)

You can find Troy Machir on Twitter at @TroyMachir

Florida Gulf Coast’s Demetris Morant out 3-4 months

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Florida Gulf Coast redshirt junior forward Demetris Morant is expected to miss the next 3-4 months after undergoing surgery last week to repair a stress fracture in his right shin, the school announced on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 4.5 points, 4.4 blocks and 1.3 blocks per game in 33 appearances (18 starts) for the Eagles during the 2014-15 season.

“This is obviously an unfortunate setback for Demetris, but it was a procedure that needed to be done,” Florida Gulf Coast head coach Dooley said in a statement. “We decided it would be best to have it completed now to hopefully get him back for A-Sun play. It’s an opportunity now for other guys to step up in his absence, and I have confidence they’ll get the job done.”

The Eagles have the top frontline in the Atlantic Sun, one that returns Marc-Eddy Norelia and Filip Cvjeticanin, a 3-point shooter who missed all of last season recovering from back surgery. VCU transfer Antravious Simmons becomes eligible in the second semester.

Florida Gulf Coast begins the 2015-16 season on Nov. 14 against Ohio.

Bill Self on Cheick Diallo: ‘It may be a couple of more weeks’

2015 McDonald's All American Game
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Cheick Diallo is currently practicing with Kansas, but his eligibility still remains in question.

On Monday, Kansas head coach Bill Self appeared on “The Border Patrol” on WHB-AM 810 and was asked to update the status of his freshman big man.

“He’s been cleared to practice,” Self told hosts Steven St. John and Nate Bukaty. “(His status) is depending on what they find throughout from the information we submit to them whenever we get it all together.

“A lot of people think, ‘Well, why wouldn’t it all be together?’ Well there’s a lot of reasons why. It’s because they told us recently some things that they just wanted. Instead of just throwing it to them piece by piece, they requested we to just submit it all together, so it may be a couple of more weeks before we’re able to submit everything when you’re talking about getting information from schools in Mali and everything like that.

“But we hope in two weeks, maybe three weeks, before we have a definite answer. But right now, Cheick is like everybody else. He’s practicing.”

Diallo, a 6-foot-9 forward from Mali is allowed to practice with the Jayhawks, but has been waiting to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center despite enrolling in classes over the summer and earning six credits. Self anticipated this would be a long process, but has remained confident Diallo, the top-5 recruit in Class of 2015, will eventually be cleared to play this season.

For three years, Diallo attended Our Savior New American School in Centereach, New York, which is currently under NCAA review. In September, Pitt freshman Damon Wilson, Diallo’s teammate at OSNA, was cleared to play.

Kansas opens the season on Nov. 13 against Northern Colorado.