On the first day of March and the beginning of the Patriot League and Atlantic Sun Conference Tournaments, NJIT was upset by Stetson (A-Sun), Al Skinner and Kennesaw State saw their season end at the hands of Florida Gulf Coast (A-Sun) and Holy Cross beat Loyola (MD) for the right to play number one seeded Bucknell in the next round (Patriot). There were also numerous exciting, down to the wire regular season games, including Indiana versus Iowa and Georgetown versus Marquette.
On Wednesday, the drama continues with three more conferences, the NEC, America East and Ohio Valley, opening up their postseason tournaments. Teams in all three leagues will look to maximize their chance to clinch an automatic bid to the Big Dance and hope to continue playing into the latter stages of the best month of the year.
No. 7 St. Francis (PA) @ No. 2 Fairleigh Dickinson 7 p.m. ET
No. 8 Robert Morris @ No. 1 Wagner 7 p.m. ET
No. 6 LIU Brooklyn @ No. 3 Sacred Heart 7 p.m. ET
No. 5 Mount St. Mary's @ No. 4 St. Francis (Brooklyn) 9 p.m. ET
The favorite in the NEC is clearly the Wagner Seahawks (who St. John's defeated in the first game of the season) as head coach Bashir Mason has the conference's top team playing aggressive defense. The Seahawks are led by Corey Henson (13.5 points per game) and Michael Carey (12.0 points per game and 9.1 rebounds), but they also rebound the ball successfully (35th in the nation) and are 17th in the country in points allowed.
Fairleigh Dickinson and Sacred Heart are the two biggest challengers to Wagner with both squads downing the Seahawks once during the regular season. Also, watch out for LIU Brooklyn. Despite being the six seed, the Blackbirds defeated the Seahawks twice (both home and away) during conference play and are led by junior forward Jerome Frink, who averages 16.9 points per game and 9.1 rebounds.
No. 8 UMBC @ No. 1 Stony Brook 7 p.m. ET (Broadcast on ESPN3)
No. 7 Harford @ No. 2 Albany 7 p.m. ET (Broadcast on ESPN3)
No. 6 Maine @ No. 3 Vermont 7:30 p.m. ET (Broadcast on ESPN3)
No. 5 Binghamton @ No. 4 UNH 7:30 p.m. ET (Broadcast on ESPN3)
Is this finally the year that Stony Brook breaks through and makes their first ever NCAA Tournament? This is their best possible chance as Jameel Warney, a potential future pro, is playing his final collegiate season and is averaging a monstrous 18.7 points and 10.2 rebounds. Add in counter-partner Carson Puriefoy (14.5 points per game) and the Seawolves should have little issue winning the auto bid.
Unfortunately, there is always some sort of an issue with the Seawolves. In four of the last five years Stony Brook has made the America East Conference Tournament final and slipped up. Last year, they lost at the hands of Peter Hooley and Albany and once again the Great Danes have been competitive along with the Vermont Catamounts.
The Great Danes and Catamounts spilt with the Seawolves during the regular season, but with home court advantage and a hungry senior forward don't expect anything less than a Stony Brook postseason conference title.
No. 8 Austin Peay vs. No. 5 Tennessee Tech 7 p.m. (in Nashville)
No. 7 Eastern Illinois vs. No. 6 Murray State 9 p.m. (in Nashville)
Top-seeded Belmont won't be in action on the first night, but Murray State is always a treat to watch come March. The Racers are led by Jeffery Moss (14.2 points per game), Wayne Langston (13.4 points per game) and Bryce Jones (12.3 points per game), while they also have experienced players in Texas transfer Damarcus Croaker and junior Justin Seymour.
Everything seems to be headed in Belmont's favor though with the Bruins gaining a double bye thanks to their terrific regular season record and of course, they have the presence of Craig Bradshaw and Evan Bradds. Bradshaw is averaging 16.3 points and Bradds is one of the more efficient players in America, averaging 17.3 points on 70 percent shooting.
If you want a sneaky, underrated team that could possibly shock the Bruins, take Tennessee State. Dana Ford's team has molded into a tough defensive squad that has a strong 1-2 punch in Keron DeShields and Tahjere McCall.