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If they want a chance to go dancing, they have to win:

CAA: No surprise James Madison is in the Finals, but their opponent is (somewhat surprising): the Blue Hens.

Discussing UD’s youth, Martin said, “This team has come so far this season. We’re so young and I’m so proud of these kids as they’ve grown so much in the past few months. Nobody thought Delaware would be sitting in this position right now. We’ve climbed the mountain all year long of people not believing in us and now we have a job to finish.”

Southland: Northwestern State (Lady) Demons v. the Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks. (Sounds like a CW show) The teams split the regular season, each winning at home by double digits.

Horizon: #1 Green Bay will face off against #2 Wright State.

NEC: Upstart Robert Morris and their star from Greece, Artemis Spanou, will try and overcome St. Francis (PA), who’ve had a less than .500 season, but made the finals after an epic triple-overtime win over Sacred Heart and a tight win over Mount St. Mary’s. Thank goodness there are a couple of days between games.

MVC: The Shockers have righted their ship —  if they sail by 5th seed Drake their season will continue. But don’t take the Bulldogs lightly – they rallied to take down top-seed Indiana State.

A-SUN: This seems to be the game of the day. 26-6, 16-2) Stetson faces off against (25-7, 17-1) FGCU.  Will the Eagles fans show?

As for those Dancers:

Ball State couldn’t sustain the magic, nor stop 5th years senior Rachel Tecca (30-12). So, after 40 years, it’s the Zips who earns their first MAC trip to the NCAAs.

“This group of seniors is very, very special,” said Kest, in her eighth season at the school. “They believed in us when we recruited them. It’s not easy to come into a program that has had some losing seasons and to take a chance on us. It’s easy to go to a school that already has been successful and already has fans.”

The Zips tied the program record for single-season victories, which was set in 2012-2013.

Prairie View A&M DID sustain the magic, upsetting SWAC #2 seed, Texas Southern, earning their fourth consecutive championship title and sending a 14-17 team onto the dance floor. 

Washington added 20 points in the winning effort, which capped a season-long turnaround after the Lady Panthers lost their first 11 games under first-year coach Dawn Brown.

“I just let them know that you can’t let Texas Southern take this moment from you,” Brown said she told her team. “Since 2011, this is what Prairie View A&M University does. You see our best basketball in March.”

The third time was almost the charm for Coppin State, but Hampton prevailed in the MEAC championship game — by three points.

“When I woke up this morning,” Hamilton said, “I said to myself, I had to be a point guard today. We needed everybody in order to win. I actually wanted to play a part in the championship.”

Hamilton’s fingerprints were all over the title game, with a game-high 20 points, seven rebounds, three assists and a couple of blocks.

“She was overdue,” HU coach David Six said. “Nikki’s a big-time player — first-team all-conference. She’s been in these situations before. I’m glad she’s on my team and she was able to make some clutch shots for us.”

Sun Belt: A lot has happened to the Hilltopper program since they sent Shea Mahoney to the New York Liberty – and some of it not good. Different story yesterday as Western Kentucky came back from 14 down against Arkansas State to earn a berth to the NCAA tournament. And the video of the coaches celebrating is worth a thousand words.

Middle Tennessee State left no doubt as to who rules the C-USA, rolling over Southern Mississippi. 84-55.

“I feel like Middle Tennessee is one of the top 20 programs in the country,” Blue Raiders coach Rick Insell said. “We’re not the best program in the country, but we’re in the top 20, and we’re there every year.

“We’re real proud of what our program stands for. The basketball gurus know about Middle Tennessee, and they know that Middle Tennessee is a tough, tough team.”

Patriot: Army entered the NCAA tournament on the shoulders of Kelsey Minato, who scored 31 points to lead the Black Knights over a resilient Holy Cross, 68-58.

 “We had the great equalizer,” Magarity said of his sophomore guard. “She’s an incredible player and as special a player as I’ve ever coached in my 32 years as a head coach.

Mountain West: Fresno State knocked off top seed Colorado State, 77-68, and earned its fourth consecutive conference championship.

“I think (tournament experience) does help a lot, especially when teams go on runs,” Farley said. “If you’re not experienced, you can get really frazzled in that type of situation. Us being more experienced, we learned to accept the runs and not freak out, if that makes sense. It definitely did help us today.”

Big West: It’s been 23 years, and this is only the second time the Cal State Northridge team has gone dancing, this time by virtue of their 15-point win over Cal Poly.

“Every day is a championship day for us,” Matadors coach Jason Flowers said. “The intensity never drops off, whether it’s a shootaround or weights or conditioning. These young women have prepared for this moment for the past two or three years. I was interested to see how they would respond to being on the big stage. They woke up this morning in great spirits, they were really relaxed and I just stayed out of their way and they worked their tails off.”

North Dakota left no doubt as to who was going to earn the Big Sky bid to the NCAA, handily beating Robin Selvig’s Montana, 72-55.

The win was historic for UND (22-9). The Green and White will play in the Big Dance for the first time in program history.

“Credit Montana, a very well-coached team that battled,” North Dakota coach Travis Brewster said. “But it’s an exciting experience for these players to get a chance to play in the NCAA tournament and to do it in front of our fans was awesome. It’s a pretty unique honor and takes a special group.”

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UNC got coach Hatchell her 900th win with a healthy stomping of Boston College.

North Carolina women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell never misses an opportunity to market her team, whether it’s printing shirts in her kitchen, buying ads in the student newspaper or driving a car that’s fully wrapped with promotional material.

When it came time to celebrate Hatchell’s own accomplishment Thursday, her players returned the favor. Sophomore guard Erika Johnson designed hats with the words “Sylvia Hatchell 900 wins,” which everyone on the team wore proudly after the Tar Heels defeated Boston College 80-52.

“I am so excited for her,” Johnson said. “It’s just cool to be in the presence of someone who has accomplished so much.”

Mechelle has Hatchell’s milestone moments.

Three ranked SEC teams had surprising battles on their hands, but prevailed.

In OT, it was Kentucky over Arkansas, 80-74.

Auburn served notice, pushing Georgia until the Bulldogs prevails, 61-58.

Graves continues to impress. Her steal and last bucket secured Tennessee’s two-point win over LSU.

Marist is rollin’, rollin’, rollin‘.

Woot! Woot! Da Penguins are at 6-2 in the Horizon.

Hello, Sam Houston — with their win over McNeese St., they get a little revenge (the Cowgirls gave them their only conference loss) and are now 9-1 in the Southland.

That sigh of relief may have come out of Michigan: the Wolverines get back on the winning side with their 72-69 win over Illinois.

Whoa! Lookee here! Ball State took down Central Michigan, 68-61! That puts them in a tie for the best record in the (entire) MAC.

Another upset: North Dakota (5-8 Big Sky) defeats Montana St (8-5).

Montana (10-3) kept pace, though, losing to Northern Colorado (9-3), 54-41.

A near upset: Green Bay(8-0, Horizon) squeaked by Loyola (IL) (2-5), 65-62.

The wheels seem to have come off the Presbyterian (8-4 Big South) bus: they lost to Gardner-Webb (4-7, Big South), 55-38. It was coach Reeves 400th win.

In a key C-USA match up, it was an undermanned Tulane (6-2) over UTEP (5-3). (Contrary to what the ESPN scoreboard said earlier.)

Ouch. Pacific  (8-2, Big West) got some national attention, but couldn’t take down Cal Poly (7-3).

Hawai’i is 7-2 in the Big West. I’m just sayin’.

Jen Azzi’s Dons still have a ways to go: Gonzaga (9-1) dismissed them, 84-46.

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’tweren’t easy last year, and it looks like it ain’t going to be easier this year. Amidst conflicting stories (Pat Summitt Says Tennessee Forced Her Out As Women’s Basketball Coach and Summitt says she wasn’t forced out at Tennessee), Holly tries to move forward (Lady Vols first official basketball practice up-tempo) and still honor the past: Pat Summitt at Lady Vols’ 1st practice.

Wonder if we’ll get a little Bobbitt-redux: Lady Vols juco transfer Jasmine Phillips out to prove she’s No. 1

Speaking of honoring the past: Statues unveiled of Pat Summitt, her UT Martin coach Nadine Gearin and former women’s AD Bettye Giles

’tis the season to be bronzed: Texas unveils statue to honor Hall of Fame women’s basketball coach Jody Conradt

Speaking of distractions: Auriemma seeks to dismiss security guard’s lawsuit

In Kentucky, Merlene is a bit cranky: Cal’s women’s clinic entertained fans, but didn’t help my hoops acumen

Then, the women watched a fashion show featuring the players in clothes bearing the UK logo. (I wonder: Do men who attend similar clinics get makeovers?)

On the West Coast, Cori Close and the Bruins try and build on last season: Women’s basketball holds first practice, stresses defense and discipline on the court

Interesting that this was “a first” for Oregon State: Women’s Basketball Hosts Successful Inaugural Tip-Off Dinner

Odd news at the high school level: Alston says he was fired over Chicken flap

Bishop Loughlin girls basketball coach Kasim Alston used the memory of Tayshana (Chicken) Murphy as the catalyst for the Lions’ run to a state Federation Class ‘A’ championship last March. Now, it seems that Alston’s request to have a one-day basketball event named in Murphy’s honor at the school was the cause for his dismissal on Sept.24.

better news: Basketball star Zabielski named to Ridgewood High School Hall of Fame

In the 1990’s, some of the best girls basketball in Bergen County was played, and Ridgewood High School was one of the premier programs of that era. Linda Zabielski was the player that set the bar and led the Ridgewood team that began what was a magical run for the Lady Maroons.

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sent two teams to the Dance.

In what could easily be dubbed an “instant classic,” Eastern Michigan kept trying to put away Central Michigan, but they would not stay gone. It came down to a missed free throw and a last second layup, and EMU wins the MAC. Heartbreak, obviously, for the Chippewas, but yikes — look at all the players they get back next year. Bowling Green’s gotta be hearing footsteps.

In the battle of the H’s, Howard couldn’t get over the hump that is Hampton. Again, a hard-fought game decided by a last second layup sends the Pirates to their third straight MEAC championship.

It’s not that I forgot about them (though I kinda did): Congrats to North Dakota, which proved the third time is the charm by finally winning the Big West Conference title. They’ll play in the WBI, and the Big Sky next year.

Look, up in the air! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a Fresno State threeeee! A tournament record 15, to be precise. There wasn’t a lot of fight in LaTech, and the Bulldogs roared to the WAC title, 89-61.

In a battle of the unexpected finalists, the Midshipmen of Navy fitted themselves with dancing shoes courtesy of a 57-49 win over Holy Cross (their first win over the Crusaders in seven tries).

It was a dogfight in the Am.East Finals, but eventually the Great Danes of Albany overcame the Retrievers of UMB, 69-61,  earning their first trip to the NCAA tournament.

The victory, of course, means UAlbany women’s basketball has arrived as a bona fide Division I program, and that’s great for the school.

But just as important, there was excitement for women’s basketball Saturday night, and it’s been a long time since you could say that around here. That’s great for the sport.

Alcorn State had the lead at the half, but they could hold on against Prairie View. The 63-50 win gives Toyelle Wilson’s Panthers their second consecutive Southwestern Conference tournament championship.

It wasn’t particularly elegant, but Mountain West COY Beth Burns will take it: San Diego State takes down New Mexico and wins the conference championship, 57-43.

It wasn’t particularly pretty, but never underestimate the power of your home court: Idaho State took the Big Sky final with a 49-46 win over Northern Colorado.

Here’s a game Debbie and Beth would have liked: Down 11 with 5:30 left, CS Bakersfield fought back until Lauren Carter’s three pointer with just over a minute left gave them the lead over Seattle University. They held on and secured a 89-87 win – and, oddly enough, completes their worst season ever.

Long Beach didn’t have one last upset in them, and so it’s the UCSB Gauchos who win the Big West Championship and get the chance to dance in the Tournament.

UTEP won the program’s first C-USA title, but it wasn’t easy. They were down 12 with 15 minutes to go in the second, but rallied back to take the 69-65 win. Tulane is going to kick themselves all the way home: The missed 10 of 25 free throws.

The Battle of the Bays, redux, wasn’t all wet, but it was pretty damp. The Nerd City Kids made sure the Cal Bears didn’t get any ideas, and Stanford won its “first” Pac-12 Championship. Writes Michelle:

Less than a minute into Saturday’s Pac-12 championship game against Cal at Staples Center, Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike took an elbow to the face.

She bent over at the waist under the basket in obvious pain.

Nneka Ogwumike went straight to her younger sister, lifted her face in her hands, wiped her tears and gave her a talk. She got Chiney straightened out and headed to the bench before the trainer could even get there.

Maybe it’s not a stretch to say that Nneka Ogwumike really does do everything for Stanford.

Baylor said fare-the-well to Texas A&M with a mauling, 73-50, and it wasn’t all Big BG. Writes Mechelle:

Wherever it’s played in the future, though, it’s hard to imagine there will be a more dominant performance in the title game than the one Baylor had Saturday. The No. 1 seed, after an 18-0 regular-season record in Big 12 play, won its three league tournament games by an average of 22.7 points. The Bears’ 23-point margin of victory over Texas A&M was the largest in a Big 12 title game, surpassing Oklahoma’s 19-point win over Texas in 2004.

Superstar Griner — the Big 12 Player of the Year and favorite for that honor nationally, too — had season lows in points (11) and rebounds (three) in her 26 minutes Saturday. But it didn’t even matter.

Check out Charlie’s latest bracketology and see what you think about the College Sports Madness bracket.

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Marist (8-0) didn’t run its win streak to 8 and fellow MAAC member Fairfield (6-1) didn’t keep pace. The Stags’ only loss is to the Red Foxes. They meet again Feb. 10th. Or, maybe they don’t….

Oh, and in the battle of the Dakota States, it wasn’t Jackrabbits stampeding over the Bison.

As for today, FGUC looks to take command of the A-Sun with a win over Stetston.

As for tomorrow — how cool is this: Delaware gets its first sellout. The Hens battle the Dragons at 3:30EST.

Oh, and there’s a job opening in North Dakota: UND women’s basketball coach Roebuck to retire after season. Big shoes to fill though: Roebuck is 616-143 with the Sioux.

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A Thump! (Georgia-Southern Miss)

A Thump! (Baylor-Notre Dame)

A Thumpity, Thump! (Oklahoma- Sam Houston St)

A Thumpity, Thump! (Green Bay-North Dakota)

A Thumpity, Thump, Thump! (Tennessee-Lamar)

A Squeak! (Georgetown-Richmond)

A Thumpset! (Michigan St-Florida St)

And another Thumpset (Bowling Green-Vanderbilt)

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