College Hoops Player of the Day for Saturday, March 7, 2015
What a weekend of college hoops!
Only one of two potential dance tickets were punched on Saturday, and the fancy stepping will be done by the Belmont Bruins, who shocked the Murray State Racers in a shoot-out for the Ohio Valley Conference tournament title with an 88-87 thriller, earning themselves a trip to the NCAA championship tournament.
Craig Bradshaw led the Bruins with 25 points on 10-for-17 shooting, including five threes.
The game saw multiple ties and lead changes and a plethora of big plays and three pointers. The top two scoring teams in the conference combined for 26 bombs from beyond the arc.
It was the second time in three seasons that Belmont has knocked off the Racers in the conference tourney final.
Murray State went 16-0 through the regular season Ohio Valley schedule, but were tripped up by a perennial tournament-tested team.
It will be up to the selection committee to determine whether the Racers' record of 27-5 - and, prior to Saturday's defeat, a string of 25 straight wins - is worthy enough for inclusion into the NCAA tournament field. Selection Sunday is March 15.
After winning at Harvard, 62-52, Friday night, all the Yale Bulldogs had to do was win at Dartmouth and a ticket to the NCAA tournament would be in their hands.
Despite shooting 62 percent in the first half against the Big Green, the Bulldogs turned the ball over 11 times and could only claim a one-point lead, at the break, 30-29. Their struggles continued in the second half, unable to pull away, and eventually losing on a last-second layup by Gabas Maldunas, resulting in a 59-58 Dartmouth, which forces a playoff game between the two top teams in the conference, Harvard and Yale.
Harvard ran their record to 11-3 in the conference with a 72-62 win over Brown
The playoff game will be played on Saturday, March 14 at Penn, a neutral site in Philadelphia. The winner gets the automatic bid. Harvard has won or tied for the Ivy League title five years running.
Saturday Hoops Highlights:
Kentucky completed a perfect regular season with a routine, 67-50, victory over an out-gunned Florida Gators team. The win was the 31st straight for the Wildcats and completed an 18-0 mark in the SEC. Next up for the Wildcats is the SEC Tournament which begins Wednesday, March 11, in Nshville, TN.
#16 Louisville topped #2 Virginia, 59-57, handing the Cavaliers just their second loss of the season. Both teams are looking forward to the ACC tournament, starting on Tuesday, March 10, at Greensboro, NC.
Led by Tyus Jones' 25 points and eight assists, Duke dominated the second half - scoring 53 points - to defeat the North Carolina Tar Heels for the second time this season, 84-77.
Eighth-ranked Wichita State was unceremoniously bounced from the Missouri Valley conference tournament in a 65-62 win by Illinois State, leaving the tourney title wide open for Northern Iowa, an easy, 63-49 victor over Loyola (IL). The Redbirds (21-11, 11-7 MVC) could steal a bid with a win over Northern Iowa in the final, slated for Sunday at 2:05 pm ET.
With one conference tourney complete (Ohio Valley) and the Ivy to be determined by a playoff game next Saturday, that leaves 30 conference tournaments to be decided over the next eight days and nights, resulting in a total of 32 automatic bids to the NCAA tournament. College Basketball Daily will feature expanded coverage as the hoops bonanza goes ballistic.
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