Championship Week begins as Atlantic Sun, Horizon League, Patriot League tournaments tip tonight

Atlantic Sun top seed North Florida puts its best-ever season on the line against Stetson tonight. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Atlantic Sun top seed North Florida puts its best-ever season on the line against Stetson tonight. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

By: Kels Dayton

The long, painful wait is over. March Madness is here again!

Complete Conference Tournament Schedule

The first night of Cinderella-creating, single-elimination, season-on-the-line-with-every-bounce conference tournament action begins tonight, as the Atlantic Sun, Horizon League and Patriot League all get closer to naming their champions.

We like to think of championship week as the unofficial start of the NCAA Tournament, as teams will be eliminated from national title contention beginning tonight. OK, so Stetson wasn’t going to win the national title this year. But they still have a chance at shocking everyone in the A-Sun, grabbing a spot in the field and making a run to the Sweet 16, knocking off someone else that could have taken home the title in the process. You never know. And that’s what makes March Madness so special, right?

We’ve listed all of the conference tournament games scheduled for tonight below.

Check back every day this week for a complete schedule of that day’s games.

Atlantic Sun Quarterfinals

(1)  North Florida   vs.

(8) Stetson

7:30 p.m. Available on Watch ESPN

Game Note: The Ospreys cruised through the A-Sun schedule at 12-2 and just beat eighth-seeded Stetson by fifteen on Saturday. Now they’ll have to do it again with everything on the line. North Florida has only been a D-1 school for nine years, and already it’s a conference champ with a chance to reach the Big Dance.

(4)  Northern Kentucky  vs.

(5)  Lipscomb

7:00 p.m. Available on Watch ESPN

Game Note: The Northern Kentucky Norse, D-1 since 2012, earned a 4-seed with a 7-7 conference record this season. NKU has afforded itself pretty well against league powers North Florida and FGCU, playing close games with the two despite an 0-4 record. That means they’re dangerous. To get past Lipscomb, they’ll have to stop the Bisons’ one-two punch of Josh Williams (17.2 ppg) and Malcolm Smith (14.5 ppg).

(3)  South Carolina-Upstate  vs.

(6)  Kennesaw State

7:00 p.m. Available on Watch ESPN

Game Note: Ty Greene (20.1 ppg) leads the Upstate Spartans, who, like most teams in this league, have a short D-1 history and zero previous trips to the NCAA Tournament.

(2) Florida Gulf Coast  vs.

(7) Jacksonville

7:00 p.m. Available on Watch ESPN

Game Note: FGCU has quickly become this league’s flagship school, especially after Belmont and Mercer bolted for greener pastures following tournament successes of their own. (The Bears beat Duke in the Round of 64 last season). There are still a few names you might remember from Dunk City’s run to the Sweet 16, including point guard Brett Comer (12.4 ppg, 7 apg).

Horizon League- Opening Round

(5) Detroit  vs.

(8) Youngstown State

7:00 p.m. Available on Watch ESPN

Game Note: Senior Juwan Howard Jr. (17.8 ppg), leads the Titans into the Horizon tourney for the final time. The league’s bracket gives the top two seeds automatic byes to the semifinals, so the winner here will face fourth-seeded Cleveland State next and then top-seed Valpo if they can advance. Big difference between a four and a five seed in this format.

(6)  Illinois-Chicago  vs.

(7) Wright State

8:00 p.m. Available on Watch ESPN

Game Note: UIC or Wright State would face the third-seeded Oakland Grizzlies if they win tonight, and then two-seed Wisconsin-Green Bay in the semis.

Patriot League- First Round

(8) Holy Cross vs.

(9) Loyola-Maryland

Game Note: The normally-contending Crusaders have fallen on hard times this season, stumbling to an 8-10 conference record. MAAC transfer Loyola-Maryland was equally disappointing. The winner here gets top-seeded Bucknell next.

7:00  p.m.

(7)  Navy  vs.

(10)  Army

7:00 p.m.

Game Note: Army vs. Navy with the season on the line? Are you kidding me?  This one is bigger than the football game. It should be a fantastic atmosphere in Annapolis.

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Day 2 of Championship Week features America East, Big South, Ohio Valley tournaments tipping off

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