As the nation gets in the thralls of March Madness this weekend, the annual frenzy surrounding the championships of men’s and women’s college basketball grips the sports world. Here in Nashville, we are preparing to welcome and host the women’s national championship rounds, affectionately know as the ‘Final Four.’
The four finalists in the 64-team field participating in the NCAA women’s single-elimination tournament will meet at the Bridgestone Arena on Sunday, April 6, for semifinals and the championship game Tuesday, April 8. The men’s championship will be determined in the Final Four competition on Saturday, April 5, and Monday, April 7, in the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, North Texas. Yes, that is the $1.2 billion home of the Dallas Cowboys.
There will be two teams representing the Ohio Valley Conference in the NCAA tournaments. The OVC is headquartered here in Nashville, and has two teams in the city—Tennessee State University and Belmont University.
UT Martin won its fourth consecutive OVC championship on Saturday, March 8, in the OVC Championship game. UT Martin was led in scoring by Jasmine Newsome, who netted a game-high 25 points. The UT Martin Skyhawks open NCAA tournament play against the University of North Carolina Tar Heels in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Chapel Hill, N.C. on Sunday, March 2, at 2:05 pm, CT, at Carmichael Arena and can be seen live on ESPN.
In the 2014 Ohio Valley Conference Men’s Basketball Championship Game, Eastern Kentucky University defeated Belmont 79-73 on March 8 in Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium. Eastern Kentucky’s men’s basketball team will face Kansas University in the NCAA Tournament on Friday, March 21, at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo. at 3:10 pm, CT. The Colonels (24-9), making their eighth NCAA Tournament appearance and first since 2007, are the No. 15 seed in the South Region; Kansas (24-9) is the No. 2 seed. The winner of the Eastern Kentucky/Kansas game will play the winner of No. 7 seed New Mexico/No. 10 Stanford on Sunday in St. Louis.
While neither hometown team made the NCAA championship field, both Belmont’s men’s and women’s teams made it to the finals of the conference tournament and TSU’s women competed in the OVC tournament. Belmont’s men’s and women’s teams are participating in further postseason play, both in the National Invitation Tournament, or NIT and Women’s National Invitation Tournament, or WNIT.
The Belmont men’s team played a first round game at Green Bay, Wisconsin on Tuesday, March 18. Results were unavailable at press time. A win would place them in the second round against the winner of a matchup between St. John’s (N.Y.) and Robert Morris.
The Belmont women’s team traveled to Bloomington to face Indiana University on Thursday, March 20. Results were unavailable at press time. A win places them in the second round against the winner of a matchup between Indiana State and Marquette.