2021 NCAA Tournament automatic bids: Conference title games, scores; Rick Pitino gets back to the Big Dance

Iona Athletics

The 31 conference tournaments that supply the NCAA Tournament with a flurry of automatic qualifiers have helped reintroduced the sport to some coaches who had otherwise faded from the public eye. While Iona coach Rick Pitino is in the spotlight on Selection Sunday again, so are a couple of former SEC caches who have resurfaced as successful mid-major coaches.

Former LSU Johnny Jones has already been to the NCAA Tournament as the coach at North Texas and LSU. Now he’s going back with Texas Southern after coaching the Tigers to the SWAC Tournament title on Saturday night in his third season with the program. 

Bryce Drew is still best remembered by many for hitting a buzzer-beating 3-point shot with Valparaiso to knock off Ole Miss in the first round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament. But he’s also been to the Big Dance as the coach at Valparaiso and Vanderbilt and will now be taking a third team to the tournament. In his first season as the coach at Grand Canyon, Drew guided the Antelopes to their first NCAA Tournament berth by winning the WAC Tournament title.

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We’re keeping up with the various tournament schedules and automatic qualifiers here as the madness of March begins to heat up.

Sunday’s conference tournament championship games

All times ET

Patriot LeagueColgate 85, Loyola-Maryland 72Colgate led the Patriot League in scoring by a wide margin thanks to a group of four veteran guards who are quality outside shooters. Jordan Burns, Jack Ferguson and Tucker Richardson were also part of this team’s NCAA Tournament appearance in 2019, when the Raiders took Tennessee down to the wire in a first-round game. But this team also has a couple of quality bigs in Keegan Records and Jeff Woodward who help make the Raiders a tough team to defend.Atlantic 10SECAACBig Ten

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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 9-13Georgia Tech (17-8) America East Campus sites Feb. 27-28, March 6,13 Hartford (15-8) Atlantic 10 Richmond,/DaytonMarch 3-6, 14 March 14, 1 p.m., CBS ASUN Jacksonville, Fla.March 3-7 Liberty (23-5) Big East New York March 10-13Georgetown (13-12) Big Sky Boise, Idaho March 10-13Eastern Washington (16-7) Big South Campus sites Feb. 27, March 1,4,7 Winthrop (23-1) Big Ten Indianapolis March 10-14 March 14, 3:30 p.m., CBS Big 12 Kansas City March 10-13Texas (19-7) Big West Anaheim March 9, 11-13UC Santa Barbara (22-4)Colonial Washington D.C. March 6-9 Drexel (12-7) Conference USA Frisco, Texas March 9-13North Texas (17-9) Horizon League Indianapolis Feb. 25, March 2, 8-9 Cleveland State (19-7) Ivy League No Tournament in 2021 MAAC Atlantic City, N.J. March 9-13Iona (12-5) MAC Cleveland, Ohio March 11-13 Ohio (16-7) MEAC Norfolk, Va. March 11-13 Norfolk State (13-7) Missouri Valley St. Louis March 4-7 Loyola Chicago (24-4) Mountain West Las Vegas March 10-13San Diego State (23-4) Northeast Campus sites March 6 & 9 Mount St. Mary’s (12-10) Ohio Valley Evansville, Ind. March 3-6 Morehead State (23-7) Pac-12 Las Vegas March 10-13 Oregon State (17-12) Patriot Campus sites March 3, 6, 10 & 14Colgate (14-1) SEC Nashville, Tenn. March 10-14 March 14, 1 p.m., ESPN Southern Asheville, N.C March 5-8 UNCG (21-8) Southland Katy, Texas March 9-13 Abilene Christian (23-4) Summit Sioux Falls, S.D. March 6-9 Oral Roberts (16-10) Sun Belt Pensacola, Fla. March 5-8 Appalachian State (17-11) SWAC Birmingham, Ala. March 10-13Texas Southern (16-8) WAC Las Vegas March 10-13 Grand Canyon (17-6) West Coast Las Vegas March 4-6 & 8-9 Gonzaga (26-0)

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