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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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all that’s left is to prepare for the second guessing of the committee. Until then, argue with Charlie.

Amongst those who are in, but awaiting word on where they are going:

Four, count’em FOUR overtimes. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.  In the end, Prairie View A&M had the legs and the points to secure the victory over Mississippi Valley State. That’s the third SWAC title in a row for coach Wilson’s Panthers.

“To be honest with you, I didn’t even know how many overtimes we played,” Prairie View A&M coach Toyelle Wilson said. “I credit our girls; relentless. They said they could go five more (overtimes).”

Hampton did what it’s been doing all season. Rollin’ over opponents. That’s four straight conference tournament championships for the Pirates.

Cal Poly did what it’s never done: Punch their ticket to the Big Dance. And they did it in style, upsetting top-seed Pacific, 63-49.

Cal Poly overcame the loss of star forward Kayla Griffin on Saturday to upset top-seeded Pacific, 63-49, in the Big West Conference women’s basketball tournament final at Honda Center.

The win earned the second-seeded Mustangs their first trip to the NCAA tournament.

Griffin tore knee ligaments early in the second half, but Cal Poly was able to maintain the 11-point lead it built in the first half. Griffin had four points in her 24 minutes.

“We wouldn’t be in this position without Kayla, there’s no question,” Cal Poly Coach Faith Mimnaugh said. “I hated that she couldn’t be on the court at the end of the game.”

That’s the way to make an impression: Change coaches, join the Southland, win the Conference Championship. Sam Houston couldn’t make up the five point first half difference, and so Oral Roberts has a ticket to ride. Obviously, the Bearkats are disappointed, but consider this: the program hasn’t  had a winning season since 1996 before going 17-14 last year.

Central Michigan proved that finishing strong in the regular season can pay dividends in the conference tournament. They carried their momentum through the tournament and earned their first trip to the Dance since 1984. (Lordy, I was a year out of college and “When Doves Cry” was the #1 song). You’ll recall the heartbreak last year.

“I wanted to put 1.5 seconds on T-shirts,” coach Sue Guevara said. “This was the goal. To get to this tournament and win because it was such a heartbreaking loss last year.”

I’ve got to believe that for Guevara, it was both heartbreaking and galling, considered the post-tourney revelations.

Speaking of 1984, 1985 was the last time Idaho went to the tourney. (I know you’re wondering: Wham, “Careless Whisper.”) They’re going back by virtue of their win over Seattle U.

“Survive and advance has certainly been our motto in this tournament and we did it all the way till the end, and it’s a great feeling,” Idaho coach Jon Newlee said. “I’m so happy for my players and I’m so happy for my staff. I feel that I have the greatest staff in America and our players have just worked their tails off to get to this moment and it’s fantastic, it’s a great feeling.”

Montana grabbed a lead over Northern Colorado, and the Bears couldn’t recover. Grizz go Danzin. From Bill Speltz:

After 35 years of coaching the same team, you figure a guy is bound to develop some hard bark on his personality.

Not Montana women’s basketball skipper Robin Selvig. His heart was so filled with happiness Saturday he couldn’t help shedding a few tears after the Lady Griz beat Northern Colorado 56-43 for the Big Sky Conference tournament championship.

His emotional postgame news conference prompted the senior sitting to his left, UM standout forward Katie Baker, to get a little misty herself. Then the Lady Griz beat writer in the front row, who thinks the world of Selvig and doesn’t care who knows it, started getting a little teary-eyed.

Navy left no doubt about who rules the Patriot League: 72-53 winners over Holy Cross, the senior-free Midshipmen have won three consecutive conference championships. How long will Pemper stay in Annapolis?

I’ve been told I need to look at the end of this game to check out a game-changing technical. That aside, sounds like it was a rockin’ environment in upstate New York as Hartford refused to roll over for the Great Danes. A back-and-forth game, it was tied at 52, and then Albany reeled off 9-straight points to secure the win and an NCAA berth.

UCF’s magical run in the C-USA conference tournament ended at the hands of Tulsa, who was making a nice run of their own. 

Tulsa coach Matilda Mossman sounded as stunned as anyone when she let the realization dawn that a season that began 0-5 was going to culminate with the school’s second berth in the NCAA tournament.

“I’m just so excited, a chill went through my body when I said we’re going to the tournament,” said the second-year coach after Tulsa defeated Central Florida 75-66 in the championship game of the Conference USA tournament Saturday. “We’ve been talking about it, but now it’s real.”

Writes Joel Klein at the Tulsa World:

Tulsa’s Taleya Mayberry, one of the best players in school history, took over the tournament and is taking the Golden Hurricane to the NCAA Tournament.

“She was great for us and she had to be for us to win,” said Mossman.

Mayberry, fantastic for four days, was at her best in a 75-66 victory over UCF in the Conference USA Women’s Basketball Tournament final on Saturday night at the BOK Center.

Mayberry scored 25 points in the final and averaged 25 in the four games.

The Sooners tweet: OU Women’s Hoops ‏@Congrats to our friends @TUWBasketball on their C-USA title! For 1st time, all 4 D1 teams in Oklahoma playing in NCAA Tourney.

San Diego State was on a roll, but clearly Wiggins didn’t leave the Fresno State cupboard bare.

The Aztecs had their 17-game winning streak snapped as they fell behind by 22 points and couldn’t come all the way back in a 76-70 loss to Fresno State in the championship game of the Mountain West Conference tournament on Saturday.

“We picked a bad time to have a bad time,” San Diego State coach Beth Burns said. “I think Fresno State had an awful lot to do with that.

The result: Dawgs go Dawncin’.

Doug Feinberg didn’t get his wish granted by Quinnipiac (another game coming down to the final shot). Instead, the Bobcats blew away St. Francis (PA) to get their first invite to the NCAA Tournament.

‘‘We are kind of waking people up a little bit,’’ said forward Brittany McQuain, a junior from Independence, Mo., who acknowledges she had never heard of Quinnipiac before an assistant coach came to recruit her. ‘‘It’s good to be a part of this, and great that people are starting to recognize who we are.’’

The Blue Hens are doing their own version Chicken Dance, as Delaware escaped a stubborn Drexel, 59-56. Great for fans and the team that they’re hosting the first two rounds. Says Graham:

Elena Delle Donne scored the final points in her final Colonial Athletic Association game.

But the coach who ended up face down on the court doing water angels Sunday afternoon had a point of her own about Delaware.

Delaware is more than a one-woman team, as coach Tina Martin preached all weekend. It is more than the greatest player the program will ever have. And the one woman who proved it Sunday was Trumae Lucas, whose drive to the basket and two subsequent free throws in the final minute gave the Blue Hens their final lead in a 59-56 win against Drexel that nearly went the other way.

There really was no doubt, even with a stunningly ugly opening to the second half, Green Bay managed to rout Loyola (IL), 54-38 and earn their fifth consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament.

Kevin Borseth’s goal when he returned to coach UWGB this season was to not screw up the success he helped build before he left for Michigan and continued when Matt Bollant roamed the sideline here for five years.

He didn’t.

Their regular season game went to overtime. Their rematch in the A-10 finals came down to the last possession: Fordham with the ball, a chance to shoot for the win, but an offensive foul ended the game. St. Joseph’s goes to their first NCAA tournament in 12 years.

One the game: Four thousand plus came to the game — primarily Fordham fans. Had a lovely pre-game chat with the mom of their point guard and, as always, enjoyed WFUV’s play-by-play folks. College kids who are serious about the product, their professionalism… and the future of their team. “Coach is very excited by her incoming class.”

It was wonderful having some women’s hoops happening in NYC during conference tournament time. Very much enjoyed my Barclay experience. Staff was helpful, friendly and on point. Lighting focused ON the court, not the arena (like The Rock does in NJ). Seems to me, if the gentlemen continue to use the Garden for the NIT, there’s no reason Brooklyn shouldn’t look to host the women’s Final Four.

About that waiting game:

From the Naples News: ‘Deserving’ FGCU hoping against hope for NCAA at-large bid

It’s a strange feeling for Karl Smesko, being unable to control his team’s destiny.

Smesko has orchestrated the Florida Gulf Coast University women’s basketball team’s rapid rise in Division I the past six seasons. He’s turned the Eagles into a dominant lower-major program, yet he’s done all he can do for his team this season.

From Louisiana, Lady Tigers eye NCAA berth

Around the LSU women’s basketball program, it’s become known as the Tim Tebow speech.

Her team reeling after back-to-back losses in early February dropped the Lady Tigers to 13-10 and out of any reasonable hope of making the NCAA tournament, Jeanne Kenney gathered the Lady Tigers around her in the locker room after their heartbreaking 64-62 loss to Tennessee and told them they couldn’t let seniors Bianca Lutley and Adrienne Webb go out on such a low note.

From the Washington Post: Maryland, Navy women’s basketball await NCAA tournament seedings

Meanwhile, the Army women are turning their focus to the WNIT

From Jerry Brewer: Seattle U women fall short of NCAA bid, but hope to refuel for WNIT

Sylvia Shephard walked to the Seattle University bench and bent over as her tears began. Her coach, Joan Bonvicini, patted her on the back, whispered that she was proud of her and tried to minimize the pain.

There was no relief, however.

In college basketball, nothing hurts like March.

She knows she’s going, but Purdue’s Mingo knows how to pay it forward

School? Yikes, we still have school? Marist begins preparation for NCAA tournament

After a week of midterms, Emma O’Connor and Kristina Danella walked through the doors at McCann Arena Friday morning ready to get back to work.

“We were like, ‘We feel like we haven’t been here forever,’ ” said Danella, a fifth-year senior forward on the Marist College women’s basketball team.

From Brian Howard at the Daily Camera: CU Buffs’ Chucky Jeffery closing out storied career

Chucky Jeffery looks at the waiter.

“Can I have the …”

“Teriyaki chicken, no vegetables,” the waiter said, smiling as he finishes the sentence.

“Yes, absolutely!” Jeffery replied with a laugh.

She’s clearly been here before.

While Jeffery’s dinner choice may lack originality, very little else about Colorado’s senior point guard is that predictable.

This is, after all, a girl who grew up preferring to participate in football and karate to basketball and dance classes. She’s a student who admits, “I’m not big on school,” yet has the desire to pursue a graduate degree. And, she’s a player who was once a challenge to coach, but looks forward to coaching in the future.

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