Tuesday marked the first day of March, and postseason action began to ramp up as the Atlantic Sun, Horizon League and Patriot League each began their conference tournaments. They joined the Northeast Conference, which kicked things off Monday, as the first leagues into the 2022 postseason fray.
If Tuesday night’s Atlantic Sun Tournament first-round game between Central Arkansas and Stetson was any indication, we’re in for a crazy ride as teams around the country jockey for automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament. UCA, which is the league’s No. 3 seed from the West Division, rallied from a 14-point deficit in the second half to beat Stetson 74-73 in a dramatic ending.
Stetson’s Christiaan Jones reached the free-throw line with 0.9 seconds left and his team trailing by a point. But he missed both free throws, which allowed the Bears to escape with the victory over a Stetson team that was the No. 6 seed from conference’s East Division. UCA will advance to play Jacksonville in Thursday’s quarterfinals.
The first automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament will be decided Saturday when the Ohio Valley Conference crowns its tournament champion. The Missouri Valley Conference and Big South will follow suit on Sunday before the action really heats up next week. But there is plenty of postseason basketball to keep an eye on in the first week of March.
For many who lose, though, their seasons will conclude on the spot. The single-elimination stakes and the fact that the competing teams are often quite familiar with each other — meeting for the third time in many cases — create a cauldron of emotion that produces epic moments. So keep it locked here as we track the 2022…