Move over Murray State, Belmont appears to be the new class in the OVC

Friday night in Nashville saw a changing of the guard:

Third seeded Eastern Kentucky survived a furious comeback from perennial OVC champion Murray State 86-83 in the second semifinal.  Earlier in the evening, Belmont did their best Wichita State impersonation and won going away 86-63. 

Wichita State remains perfect

No problems with Evansville, 80-58 was that final score.

At the MVC Tournament in St. Louis, Missouri State edged out Illinois State in a hard-fought 53-48 battle.  In the evening session, Indiana State really flexed their muscles in ending Loyola (Chicago) and their dreams of going to the Big Dance.  That final was 75-62, but the bigger seed upset was 6 seed Southern Illinois taking out the 3 seed in Northern Iowa, 63-58.

Later this afternoon, we will see if we get the 1/2 showdown that the OVC will not have for their automatic bid later this evening.

Other games of note…

In the Big South, dimmed lights and all if you were watching online:

Winthrop managed to get a Andre Smith three-pointer over two defenders with half a second left as Winthrop, the No. 4 seed out of the South Division, upset the top-seed in High Point 62-60.

The game of the night was in the early evening session, as the host school Coastal Carolina was in a real slugfest with the College of Charleston.  In spite of the Chanticleers’ having its’ second-worst shooting performance of the season, they hung tough by dominating the glass, out-rebounding the Buccaneers 59-41, including a whopping 25-9 on the offensive end.  CCU made 22 of 76 field goals (28.9 percent) and 9 of 36 from 3-point range (25 percent).  Charleston did not fare much better, 1 of 7 shooting in the second overtime and 3 of 20 from long range during the entire 50 minutes as Coastal Carolina earned a semifinal date with VMI, surviving 73-68.

Winthrop’s next opponent will be UNC Asheville, who got by Radford 96-87.

Dream season ends for Valparaiso

I guess Ginger Zee got to the warmth of the Florida Keys just in time on Friday morning.  Sadly for her alma mater, UW-Milwaukee left the Crusaders out in the cold by getting the better of Valpo, 74-57 in a Horizon League quarterfinal.  It will be an all intrastate affair as the Panthers try to knock out the top seed and the host school of Wisconsin-Green Bay, the second semifinal to start around 10:30 p.m. Eastern time.

The other tilt had Oakland (Michigan) ending their maiden voyage in the Horizon League with a 73-57 defeat at the hands of perennially tough Wright State.  Their next opponent is the second seed, Cleveland State at 8 p.m. Eastern time.

And yes, there was one automatic ticket punched to the 2014 NCAA Tournament on Friday night.

More on that in the next blog, plus the key slate of games to watch on TV and online during Saturday.

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