March Madness in Music City

2018 OVC Champion Murray State Racers

NCAA basketball tournaments have taken center stage in Nashville this month. The Southeastern Conference (SEC) held its womens tournament last week in Bridgestone Arena and next weekend the “Big Dance” commences there for the mens national championship. Sunday, March 11 the NCAA will announce its selections for the mens collegiate Division I tournament and lineups, and on Monday, March 12 they will announce the womens selections and lineups for the womens collegiate Division I tournament.

The way the “Big Dance” works is that eight teams play a two-game single-elimination playoff at each of eight sites scattered across the country. This is known as Round One and Two and for the mens tournament takes place Thursday, March 15 through Sunday, March 18. Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena will be one of those eight sites with four games on Friday, March 16 and those four winners playing in two games on Sunday, March 18.

Round One and Two and for the womens tournament takes place Friday, March 16 through Monday, March 19. The two winners at each site join the 14 similar winners from the other seven sites at four Regional sites known as the “Sweet Sixteen” for two more single-elimination playoffs the following weekend.

The “Final Four” then meet to determine the mens national champion in SemiFinal competition on Saturday, March 31, with the championship game held Monday, April 1. The Womens “Final Four” then meet to determine the womens national champion in SemiFinal competition on Sunday, April 1, with the championship game held Tuesday, April 3.

Local Nashville college teams involved in NCAA Division I basketball tournaments this month have included Belmont, Lipscomb, TSU, and Vanderbilt.

Belmont’s womens team won the Ohio Valley Conference tournament in Evansville, IN on Saturday, March 3 and will represent the conference in the womens NCAA tournament. They currently hold a 31-3 overall record, and went undefeated in conference play this season. The Belmont mens team lost in the OVC championship game to Murray State, who will be the conference representative. The Belmont mens team (24-9 overall) may or may not receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

Lipscomb’s mens team hosted Stetson in the Atlantic Sun tournament 1st round last Monday, winning 89-73, then beat Jacksonville 77-62 at home on Thursday, before eventually winning the A-Sun championship on the road Sunday afternoon. Lipscomb held on to beat Florida Gulf Coast 108-96 on ESPN, and claim the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship. Garrison Matthews led the Bison with 33 points as they advance to their first-ever NCAA Tournament. The womens team hosted and defeated USC Upstate in the Atlantic Sun Conference quarterfinals on Friday, March 2. In the Semifinals on Wednesday, March 7, the Lipscomb women play at Florida Gulf Coast; results from the game were unavailable at press time. And the Championship game is on Sunday, March 11.

The TSU womens team (6-21, 4-14 OVC) failed to make the 8-team field for the OVC tournament. The TSU mens team (15-15, 10-9 OVC) ended their season in the first round of the OVC tournament in Evansville on Wednesday, February 28 against Eastern Illinois.

Vanderbilt’s womens team lost in the first round of the SEC tournament in Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday, February 28 against Arkansas. The Commodores finished their season with a 7-24 overall record, 3-14 in conference. This week the Vanderbilt’s mens team opens play against Georgia in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) mens tournament in the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, MO on Wednesday, March 7. They finished the regular season with an 12-19 overall record, 6-12 in conference. Results from the tournament were unavailable at press time.