We are only a week away from Selection Sunday, but before the field of 68 is set, teams will start earning automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament by winning their conference tournaments. The first of those automatic bids were handed out Saturday and three more tickets will be punched to The Big Dance on Sunday.
It was only fitting that Murray State and Belmont met in the Ohio Valley Conference title game Saturday after after they split their regular-season series and entered the league tournament as the top two seeds.
Plus, Belmont needed revenge after falling to Murray State in the last two OVC Tournament championship games. The Bruins finally got it on Saturday as they clinched an NCAA Tournament bid with a 76-75 victory over the Racers.
Tyler Scanlon made a backdoor cut, took a pass from Adam Kunkel and finished the lay-up with three seconds left to put Belmont ahead. After a timeout with two seconds left, Murray State could not get a clean look at the buzzer.
There were no such hopes for either team in the OVC Tournament final, however, and the celebration showed just how high the stakes were. The Belmont players poured onto the court to celebrate after the final buzzer sounded. The win was especially significant for the Bruins considering that it came under first-year coach Casey Alexander. Tasked with succeeding legendary Belmont coach Rick Byrd after Byrd’s 33-year tenure, Alexander to a 15-3 record in the OVC and what will be the program’s ninth NCAA Tournament appearance.
Utah State secured the first automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on Saturday when it defeated San Diego State in the Mountain West Tournament final. Utah State held hopes of receiving an at-large bid anyway, though.
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Here are the updating brackets, scores and schedules for conference tournaments in action Sunday:
CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT FINALS
OTHER CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS IN ACTION
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2020 conference tournament schedules Conference Tournament site Dates 2020 Champion AAC Fort Worth, Texas March 12-15 ACC Greensboro, N.C. March 10-14 America East Campus sites March 7, 10 & 14 Atlantic 10 Brooklyn, N.Y. March 11-15 Atlantic Sun Campus sites March 3, 5 & 8 Big East New York March 11-14 Big Sky Boise, Idaho March 11-14 Big South Campus sites March 3, 5, 6 & 8 Big Ten Indianapolis March 11-15 Big 12 Kansas City March 11-14 Big West Anaheim March 12-14 Colonial Washington D.C. March 7-10 Conference USA Frisco, Texas March 11-14 Horizon League Indianapolis March 3, 5, 9 & 10 Ivy League Cambridge, Mass. March 14-15 MAAC Atlantic City, N.J. March 10-14 MAC Campus sitesCleveland, Ohio March 9, 12-14 MEAC Norfolk, Va. March 10-14 Missouri Valley St. Louis March 5-8 Mountain West Las Vegas March 4-7 Utah State (26-8) Northeast Campus sites March 4, 7 & 10 Ohio Valley Evansville, Ind. March 4-7 Belmont (26-7) Pac-12 Las Vegas March 11-14 Patriot Campus sites March 3, 5, 8 & 11 SEC Nashville, Tenn. March 11-15 Southern Asheville, N.C March 6-9 Southland Katy, Texas March 11-14 Summit Sioux Falls, S.D. March 7-10 Sun Belt Campus sitesNew Orleans March 7, 9, 11, 14-15 SWAC Birmingham, Ala. March 10, 13-14 WAC Las Vegas March 12-14 West Coast Las Vegas March 5-7 & 9-10