This weekend, the first four automatic berths for the 2010 NCAA Tournament will be given out. From Macon, GA to St. Louis, MO, conference tournaments will be played. Here is the preview for all four conferences.
Atlantic Sun (Macon, GA)
1. Lipscomb 2. Jacksonville 3. Belmont 4. Campbell 5. East Tennessee St. 6. Mercer 7. North Florida 8. Kennesaw State
Start of Tournament: Wed., Mar. 3
2009 Tournament Champion: East Tennessee State (lost to Pitt in NCAA 1st Round)
Wednesday: (1) Lipscomb v. (8) Kennesaw State, (2) Jacksonville v. (7) UNF
Thursday: (3) Belmont v. (6) Mercer, (4) Campbell v. (5) ETSU
Saturday: Final, 6:00pm, ESPN2
Lipscomb was on top at the end of the regular season but Mercer is playing at home and could pull a shock run to the automatic bid. The Atlantic Sun will only get one team into the NCAA Tournament—no team has the resume to make an at-large.
Big South (Conway, SC)
Seeds: 1. Coastal Carolina 2. Radford 3. Winthrop 4. NC-Asheville 5. High Point 6. Liberty 7. Charleston Southern 8. VMI
Start of Tournament: Tues., Mar. 2
2009 Tournament Champion: Radford (lost to UNC in NCAA 1st Round)
Results from Quarterfinals: (1) Coastal Carolina 82-(8) VMI 73, (2) Radford 64-(7) Charleston Southern 61, (3) Winthrop 80-(6) Liberty 72, (4) NC-Asheville 84-(5) High Point 73
Thursday: (1) Coastal Carolina vs. (4) NC-Asheville, (2) Radford vs. (3) Winthrop, both games on ESPNU
Saturday: Final, 4:00pm, ESPN2
Coastal Carolina has the home court advantage but will face strong competition from perennial contenders Radford and Winthrop. Just like the A-Sun, whoever wins will take the single bid to the NCAA Tournament for the conference.
Ohio Valley (Quarterfinals at Highest Seed, Semis and Finals in Nashville)
Seeds: (1) Murray State (2) Morehead State (3) Austin Peay (4) Eastern Illinois (5) Eastern Kentucky (6) Tennessee Tech (7) Jacksonville State (8) Tennessee St.
Start of Tournament: Tues., Mar. 2
2009 Tournament Champion: Morehead State (Won play-in game, lost to Louisville in NCAA 1st Round)
Results from Quarterfinals : (1) Murray St. 84-(8) Tennessee St. 51, (2) Morehead St. 87-(7) Jacksonville St. 54, (4) E. Illinois 68-(5) E. Kentucky 65 (6) Tennessee Tech 68-(3) Austin Peay 65
Friday: (1) Murray State vs. (4) Eastern Illinois, (2) Morehead State vs. (6) TN Tech, both on ESPNU
Saturday: Final, 9:00pm, ESPN2
The only, slight chance of having two teams from the OVC in the NCAA Tournament is if Murray State loses in the final and has a lot of help from teams on the bubble from the BCS conferences losing early in their conference tournaments.
Missouri Valley (St. Louis)
Seeds: (1) Northern Iowa, (2) Wichita St. (3) Illinois St. (4) Creighton (5) Bradley (6) Indiana St. (7) Missouri St. (8) Drake (9) Southern Illinois (10) Evansville
2009 Tournament Champion: Northern Iowa (lost to Purdue in NCAA 1st round)
Thursday: (7) Missouri St. vs. (10) Evansville, (8) Drake vs. (9) Southern Illinois
Friday: (1) Northern Iowa vs. 8/9 Winner, (4) Creighton vs. (5) Bradley, (3) Illinois St. vs. (6) Indiana St., (2) Wichita St. vs. 7/10 winner
Sunday: Final, 2:00pm, CBS
Arch Madness, as it is called, is always one of the most exciting of the early conference tournaments, because it has had teams on the bubble for the past decade with multiple bids going to the MVC numerous times. This season, Northern Iowa is the only team worthy of an at-large bid if they lose, and that will be the only way to get more than one team. But expect the Panthers, with the return of Jordan Eglesder from suspension, to make their best effort to lock up an automatic bid.
Coming Up Later This Week: Previews of the first four finals and conference tournament previews for the rest of the mid-major schools.