College Hoops Player of the Day for Friday, March 8, 2013
Here come the bracket busters, the teams which can only hope to get an invitation to the NCAA Tourney by winning their conference tournaments.
With post-season tourneys already underway in eight conferences - Metro Atlantic, Sun Belt, Horizon, West Coast, Missouri Valley, Ohio Valley, Atlantic Sun and Southern - there are a number of hopefuls still in the mix.
Illinois State downed Northern Iowa, 73-65, in the quarter-finals of the Missouri Valley tournament, possibly ending the Panthers' chances of making it any further toward March Madness.
The Redbirds, 8-10 during the regular season, were led by Tyler Brown's 28 points and nine rebounds, the senior guard taking charge with 11-for-17 shooting from the field with six of eight from three-point range. The Redbirds avenged a season-ending loss to UNI just six days ago, and have the opportunity to turn the Missouri Valley into a scramble.
Illinois State faces Wichita State in the semi-final at 5:05 pm ET Saturday, the winner advancing to the final to face the winner of Creighton vs. Indiana State.
NOTABLE: The Ivy League is one conference that doesn't hold a post-season tourney, and Friday's results put the ball back in the hands of the Harvard Crimson for the NCAA invite, as they slipped past Columbia, 56-51. With Princeton losing at Yale, 71-66, Harvard only has Cornell in their path to the tourney. The Crimson host Cornell at 5:30 pm ET Saturday. A win puts them into the NCAA field unless Princeton can win on the road at Brown on Saturday and at Penn on Tuesday.
In the case that Princeton and harvard tie for the title, there will be a one-game playoff, but Harvard has already beaten the Tigers twice this season.
In the Ohio Valley, Belmont, the new kid on the block after exiting the Atlantic Sun last year after three straight conference championships, will play in the tourney final against Murray State on Saturday. The Tigers, a fixture in the NCAA tourney recently, knocked off Tennessee state, 82-73, making the final on Saturday. Murray State, the #2 seed, defeated Eastern Kentucky, 81-73.