Viewer's Guide: Three automatic bids to be handed out
We're now less than a week until Selection Sunday, and three automatic bids will be won on Monday.
The regular season is now over, and we’re entering nothing but conference tournament action from here on out. Monday will see three automatic bids handed out, while the WCC semifinals features two teams that could really use a win to secure their NCAA tournament hopes.
Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP Poll.
Best game: Manhattan vs. Iona (7 p.m., ESPN2). This should be one of the best championship games of the week. The two teams split the regular-season meetings, but proved throughout the year that they were the two best teams in the league. Which one will be a potential upset pick in the Round 64? It’s a battle between the league’s best offense (Iona) and the league’s best defense (Manhattan). If the Jaspers are going to pull out the win in Springfield, they have to defend the perimeter. Sean Armand, A.J. English and Tre Bowman are all capable of big nights, and Manhattan can’t let that happen. On the other side, the Gaels have to be disciplined defensively and not foul. Manhattan manufactures a ton of points from the free-throw line.
Second-best game: William & Mary vs. Delaware (7 p.m., NBC Sports Network). William & Mary made sure we didn’t get to see a 1 vs. 2 battle between Delaware and Towson, as the Tribe made 11-pointers in a semifinal win over Jerelle Benimon and the Tigers. Can they keep the hot shooting going against the Blue Hens in the championship game? William & Mary is one of the best shooting teams in the country, ranking fourth nationally in 3-point percentage. Delaware counters with the three-headed attack of Devon Saddler, Jarvis Threatt and Davon Usher, a trio that combined to average 57.6 points per game. The Hens won the two regular-season meetings by a total of 22 points.
Another one to watch: Western Carolina at Wofford (9 p.m., ESPN2). Neither of the top two seeds from the Southern Conference will be playing for the title. Western Carolina knocked off No. 4 Elon before pulling off a major upset of top-seeded Davidson, which had lost only one SoCon game all season before Sunday. Wofford was fortunate and didn’t have to play No. 2 Chattanooga, instead cruising past Citadel and Georgia Southern to advance. Wofford won the first meeting back in January, by 11. Western Carolina has the advantage of experience, with six seniors and star guard Trey Sumler.
Saint Mary’s vs. Gonzaga (9 p.m., ESPN): The Bulldogs avoided a brutal eight-day wait by escaping Santa Clara on Saturday night, and one more win should leave them feeling safe on Selection Sunday. A loss here, and Gonzaga could sweat a little bit.
San Francisco vs. BYU (11:30 p.m., ESPN2): The Cougars are in a similar position to Gonzaga, as an appearance in the title game could be enough to get an at-large bid. Only an automatic bid would leave them feeling totally secure, but given their resume, it might be tough to leave them out with another win.
Other conference tournaments:
Summit: Semifinals. Top-seeded North Dakota State hosts Denver, while South Dakota State and IPFW battle on the other side of the bracket.
MEAC: First-round action, with Maryland-Eastern Shore playing Norfolk State, and Savannah State taking on South Carolina State.
MAC: Four first round games. Ball State at Ohio, Kent State at Miami (Ohio), Central Michigan at Eastern Michigan, Bowling Green at Northern Illinois.
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