Liberty secured the first NCAA Tournament bid on Friday via on a technicality that renders the outcome of Sunday’s ASUN championship game moot on the basis of its opponent, North Alabama, not yet being eligible for the Big Dance as it completes the transition to Division I. So that meant Saturday night’s Ohio Valley Conference Tournament final between No. 1 seed Belmont and No. 2 seed Morehead State would be the first time a team would enjoy an on-court celebration for securing a bid.
Morehead State earned its celebration with an impressive 86-71 win over the Bruins as the Eagles secured their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2011. The victory completes a turnaround for the program under coach Preston Spradlin, who first took over as the interim coach in the 2016-17 after Sean Woods was fired after allegations of abuse against players.
The Eagles cycled down in Spradlin’s first three seasons with the full-time gig, but they cycled up in a big way this year, thanks in large part to OVC Freshman of the Year Johni Broome. The 6-10 forward shined again Saturday, leading all scorers with 27 points while also pulling down 12 rebounds. Belmont (26-4) once boasted a decent at-large resume. But after dropping its final two regular season games, Saturday’s loss marked three defeats in last five games and likely spelled the end of the Bruins’ hopes to go dancing.
But Morehead State looked like it could be a potent force in the NCAA Tournament on the OVC’s behalf, and if history is is any indication, the Eagles will be a tough out. The last time they made it a decade ago, they knocked off No. 4 seed Louisville in a thrilling first round upset.
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By week’s end 15 conference tournaments will be underway or complete as more teams start securing automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament. We’re keeping up with the various tournament schedules and automatic qualifiers here as the madness of March begins to heat up.
Saturday’s conference tournament schedule, scores
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2021 conference tournament schedules Conference Tournament site Dates Championship Game, Time, TV AAC Fort Worth, Texas March 11-14 March 14, 3:15 p.m., ESPN ACC Greensboro, N.C. March 9-13 March 13, 8:30 p.m., ESPN America East Campus sites Feb. 27-28, March 6,13 March 13, 11 a.m., ESPN2 Atlantic 10 Richmond,/DaytonMarch 3-6, 14 March 14, 1 p.m., CBS ASUN Jacksonville, Fla.March 3-7March 7, 2 p.m., ESPN Big East New York March 10-13March 13, TBA, FOX/FS1 Big Sky Boise, Idaho March 10-13 March 13, 8 p.m., ESPNU Big South Campus sites Feb. 27, March 1,4,7March 7, Noon, ESPN Big Ten Indianapolis March 10-14 March 14, 3:30 p.m., CBS Big 12 Kansas City March 10-13 March 13, 6 p.m., ESPN Big West Anaheim March 9, 11-13 March 13, 11:30 p.m., ESPN2 Colonial Washington D.C. March 6-9March 9, 7 p.m., CBS Sports Network Conference USA Frisco, Texas March 9-13March 13, TBA, CBS Sports Network Horizon League Indianapolis Feb. 25, March 2, 8-9March 9, 7 p.m., ESPN Ivy League No Tournament in 2021 MAAC Atlantic City, N.J. March 9-13March 13, 4 p.m., ESPNU MAC Cleveland, Ohio March 11-13 March 13, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2 MEAC Norfolk, Va. March 7, 11-13 March 13, 1 p.m., ESPN2 Missouri Valley St. Louis March 4-7March 7, 2 p.m., CBS Sports Network Mountain West Las Vegas March 10-13March 13, 6 p.m., CBS Northeast Campus sites March 6 & 9March 9, 7 p.m., ESPN2 Ohio Valley Evansville, Ind. March 3-6Morehead State (23-7) Pac-12 Las Vegas March 10-13 March 13, 10:30 p.m., ESPN Patriot Campus sites March 3, 6, 10 & 14March 14, Noon, CBS Sports Network SEC Nashville, Tenn. March 10-14 March 14, 1 p.m., ESPN Southern Asheville, N.C March 5-8March 8, 7 p.m., ESPN2 Southland Katy, Texas March 9-13 March 13, 9:30 p.m., ESPN2 Summit Sioux Falls, S.D. March 6-9March 9, 9 p.m., ESPN2 Sun Belt Pensacola, Fla. March 5-8 March 8, 7 p.m., ESPN2 SWAC Birmingham, Ala. March 10-13 March 13, 6 p.m., ESPNU WAC Las Vegas March 10-13 March 13, 10 p.m., ESPNU West Coast Las Vegas March 4-6 & 8-9March 9, 9 p.m., ESPN