March Mania in the Music City

(l-r) NC Central coach LeVelle Moton and Texas Southern coach Mike Davis.

As reported here recently, NCAA basketball tournaments have taken center stage in Nashville this month. The Southeastern Conference (SEC) held its womens tournament in Bridgestone Arena already and this weekend the “Big Dance” commences there for the mens national collegiate basketball championship. Sunday, March 11 the NCAA announced its 72 selections for the mens collegiate Division I tournament and lineups, and on Monday, March 12 they announced the 64 womens selections and lineups for the womens collegiate Division I tournament. There are two local Nashville college teams involved in the NCAA Division I basketball tournament this month including Belmont’s womens team, winner of the Ohio Valley Conference, and David Lipscomb, winner of the Atlantis Sun Conference mens tournament.

Round One and Two and for the mens tournament runs Thursday, March 15 through Sunday, March 18. Eight teams play a two-game single-elimination playoff at each of eight sites scattered across the country. Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena is one of the eight sites for the mens tournament, with four games on Friday, March 16, for Round One. Those four winners play in two games on Sunday, March 18, for Round Two. Round One and Two for the womens tournament takes place Friday, March 16 through Monday, March 19. The two surviving 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, producing an “Elite Eight” which battle to become the “Final Four.” These “Final Four” then meet to determine the mens national champion in SemiFinal competition in San Antonio, TX on Saturday, March 31, with the championship game held Monday, April 2.

The Womens “Final Four” will meet in Columbus, OH, to determine the womens national champion in SemiFinal competition on Sunday, April 1, with the championship game held Tuesday, April 3. Belmont’s womens team opens play as a #12 seed (out of 16) in the womens NCAA tournament against #5 seed Duke. The game will air live on ESPN2 at 10:00 am CDT on March 17. Lipscomb’s mens team opens play as #15 seed vs. #2 seed UNC. The game will air live on CBS at 1:45 p.m. CST on Friday, March 16.

Locally, fans will be treated to eight talented mens teams from across the country batting it out for the national collegiate championship in Bridgestone Arena beginning this Friday, March 16. First up, at 1:00 pm, #15 seed Georgia State faces #2 Cincinnati. 30 minutes after the conclusion of that game, at approx. 3:30 pm or so, #10 seed Texas takes on # 7 seed Nevada. These four teams are grouped in the NCAA South Region, and the two winners square off on Sunday, with the winner advancing to compete the following weekend in the South Regional in Atlanta.

In the NCAA West Region, the top seed is Xavier. They will play the winner of a play-in game held Wednesday, March 14 in Dayton, OH as part of what they call the “First Four,” which are four games between eight extra teams to fill four slots of the field of 64. The winners of the two HBCU conferences, the SWAC and the MEAC have to play each other to be admitted to the tournament as the lowest seed in the West Region. I personally find it racist as hell that the two black conferences have to play each other and eliminate one of the two before the “real” tournament begins. Then, if that isn’t bad enough, they have to play the top team in the field. I am still appalled that no one has put an end to this crap yet. It galls me to no end that 30 other conferences have an automatic bid, but the two black ones basically have to share theirs. The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference may be represented by North Carolina Central University or the SouthWestern Athletic Conference may be represented by TSU – Texas Southern University, that is. The play-in game had yet to be played at press time.

The other teams in the West Region are #8 seed Missouri and #9 seed Florida State. Their game should begin around 8:50 pm on Friday after the matchup between #1 seed Xavier and #16 seed NCCU or TSU, which tips off at 6:20 pm. The NCAA West Region winners advance to compete the following weekend in the West Regional in Los Angeles. All four games played in Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Friday will be broadcast live on TBS. Sunday’s games will be aired on either CBS, TBS, TNT, or TruTV, with the matchups and times to be determined.