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The Morning Dish – Saturday, March 8th, 2003

by Phil Kasiecki

Championship Week hit a busy spot on Friday. Five conference tournaments got started on Friday and four others had semifinal games. All of the latest recaps are detailed at our Championship Week section, but here are some highlights.

The Atlantic Sun title game will have one surprise team, as Central Florida knocked off top-seeded Mercer on Friday, 79-59. The Knights will take on Troy State, which ended Georgia State’s Cinderella attempt in a 71-61 victory.

In the Big South, Winthrop’s run is over. The Eagles were the top seed in attempting to win their fifth consecutive championship, but fifth-seeded UNC-Asheville had other ideas in their 81-80 overtime victory in the semifinals. They will take on another underdog in the final, as No. 6 Radford edged No. 2 Liberty, 55-52.

In Milwaukee, No. 5 Detroit and No. 3 Illinois-Chicago both advanced to the Horizon League semifinals with double-digit victories.

In St. Louis, the underdogs ruled in the first round of the Missouri Valley Tournament as No. 9 Illinois State and No. 10 Indiana State each pulled out one-point victories.

The Ohio Valley championship game is set, and will feature regular season champion Austin Peay and a surprise team, as No. 6 Tennessee Tech shocked No. 2 Morehead State, 88-71.

College of Charleston might not be dancing, as the Cougars were knocked off by East Tennessee State in the Southern Conference semifinals. They have 24 wins, but it might not be enough.

Arkansas-Little Rock was the only favorite to win in round one of the Sun Belt Tournament.

Side Dishes

Almost There: With a 63-39 thumping of Columbia, Pennsylvania has now clinched a tie for the Ivy League title. In improving to 20-5 overall and 12-0 in the Ivy League, The Quakers won their 20th straight Ivy League game, and sent the Lions to their 17th straight Ivy League defeat. If Princeton beats the Lions on Saturday night, Columbia will have the dubious distinction of being the first school in Ivy League history to go winless in both football and basketball in the same year.

Milestones: All of the Ivy League favorites won on Friday night, as Brown beat Dartmouth 79-67, Princeton beat Cornell 71-61, and Yale knocked off Harvard 95-82. In Brown’s win, Earl Hunt became the fourth Ivy League player to surpass 2,000 career points with an 18-point effort, and in Yale’s win, Chris Leanza passed 1,000 career points with a 30-point effort.

Tonight’s Menu:

Don’t forget to check the latest recaps during Championship Week.

• Four automatic bids will be handed out today, as championship games are played in the Atlantic Sun, Big South, Ohio Valley and Southern Conference tournaments.

• The Horizon League has its semifinals. Regular season champion Butler takes on Detroit, while Wisconsin-Milwaukee takes on defending champion Illinois-Chicago.

• The Patriot League and Northeast Conference begin their tournaments, while the Colonial, Sun Belt and MAAC continue their tournament play.

• The headline matchup on the final Saturday of regular season play is the SEC showdown between No. 2 Kentucky and No. 3 Florida. The Wildcats are aiming for a perfect SEC slate. Another SEC game is a key matchup, as Auburn tries to improve its NCAA Tournament resume on the road against No. 22 Mississippi State.

• The Big 12 has a showdown among top teams as well, as No. 5 Texas heads to Norman to take on No. 4 Oklahoma.

• No. 9 Wake Forest will attempt to win the ACC outright in Raleigh, as they head to Reynolds Coliseum to take on North Carolina State.

• The Pac Ten’s Bay Area teams match up in Palo Alto, as No. 17 Stanford hosts No. 20 California.

• It’s Senior Day at Boston College, and also one of the most meaningful games between Boston College and No. 24 Connecticut in many years even though Troy Bell and the Eagles have locked up the East Division title in the Big East. Also in the Big East, No. 16 Notre Dame takes on Georgetown in the nation’s capital in a matchup that has produced some great games of late, and Providence hosts Seton Hall in a game that will have differing postseason implications for both teams.

• No. 11 Xavier looks to finish its season by adding to its 14-game win streak as they host Temple.

• Cincinnati heads to Milwaukee to close out the regular season against No. 8 Marquette, as the Bearcats try to improve their chances at an at-large NCAA bid.

• No. 23 Utah hosts Wyoming in a pivotal Mountain West game, as Wyoming tries to improve its NCAA Tournament resume.

That’s it for now. Enjoy your Saturday!

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