The first ticket to the NCAA Tournament got punched on Friday, two days day earlier than expected, as Liberty secured its spot in the Big Dance due to a fortuitous set of circumstances for the Flames in the Atlantic Sun Tournament.
Liberty won its Atlantic Sun Tournament semifinal game against Stetson on Friday to advance to Sunday’s championship game. While that game will still represent a chance for the program to hang a third straight league tournament title banner, it will be heading to the NCAA Tournament on the merits of its regular-season league title, even if it loses.
That’s because its opponent for Sunday’s league title game, North Alabama, is not yet eligible to compete in the NCAA Tournament as it continues its transition from Division II to Division I. Because of that, if North Alabama wins the Atlantic Sun tournament, the league’s automatic bid to the Big Dance reverts to the regular-season champion (Liberty). So, win or lose on Sunday, Liberty will be appearing in consecutive NCAA Tournaments for the first time in program history.
The Flames made it as a No. 12 seed in 2019, which was the last year the event was held, and knocked off No. 5 seed Mississippi State in the first round. They would have made it again last season if not for the COVID-19 pandemic. North Alabama will be eligible for the NCAA Tournament in 2023.
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By week’s end 15 conference tournaments will be underway or complete as more teams start securing automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament. We’re keeping up with the various tournament schedules and automatic qualifiers here as the madness of March begins to heat up.
Friday’s conference tournament schedule, scores
- ASUN: Semifinals
- Atlantic 10: Quarterfinals
- Missouri Valley: Quarterfinals
- Ohio Valley: Semifinals
- Southern: First round
- Sun Belt: First round
- WCC: Second round
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2021 conference tournament schedules
|Conference||Tournament site||Dates||Championship Game, Time, TV|
|AAC||Fort Worth, Texas||March 11-14||March 14, 3:15 p.m., ESPN|
|ACC||Greensboro, N.C.||March 9-13||March 13, 8:30 p.m., ESPN|
|America East||Campus sites||Feb. 27-28, March 6,13||March 13, 11 a.m., ESPN2|
|Atlantic 10||Richmond,/Dayton||March 3-6, 14||March 14, 1 p.m., CBS|
|ASUN||Jacksonville, Fla.||March 3-7||March 7, 2 p.m., ESPN|
|Big East||New York||March 10-13||March 13, TBA, FOX/FS1|
|Big Sky||Boise, Idaho||March 10-13||March 13, 8 p.m., ESPNU|
|Big South||Campus sites||Feb. 27, March 1,4,7||March 7, Noon, ESPN|
|Big Ten||Indianapolis||March 10-14||March 14, 3:30 p.m., CBS|
|Big 12||Kansas City||March 10-13||March 13, 6 p.m., ESPN|
|Big West||Anaheim||March 9, 11-13||March 13, 11:30 p.m., ESPN2|
|Colonial||Washington D.C.||March 6-9||March 9, 7 p.m., CBS Sports Network|
|Conference USA||Frisco, Texas||March 9-13||March 13, TBA, CBS Sports Network|
|Horizon League||Indianapolis||Feb. 25, March 2, 8-9||March 9, 7 p.m., ESPN|
|Ivy League||No Tournament in 2021|
|MAAC||Atlantic City, N.J.||March 9-13||March 13, 4 p.m., ESPNU|
|MAC||Cleveland, Ohio||March 11-13||March 13, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2|
|MEAC||Norfolk, Va.||March 7, 11-13||March 13, 1 p.m., ESPN2|
|Missouri Valley||St. Louis||March 4-7||March 7, 2 p.m., CBS Sports Network|
|Mountain West||Las Vegas||March 10-13||March 13, 6 p.m., CBS|
|Northeast||Campus sites||March 6 & 9||March 9, 7 p.m., ESPN2|
|Ohio Valley||Evansville, Ind.||March 3-6||March 6, 8 p.m., ESPN2|
|Pac-12||Las Vegas||March 10-13||March 13, 10:30 p.m., ESPN|
|Patriot||Campus sites||March 3, 6, 10 & 14||March 14, Noon, CBS Sports Network|
|SEC||Nashville, Tenn.||March 10-14||March 14, 1 p.m., ESPN|
|Southern||Asheville, N.C||March 5-8||March 8, 7 p.m., ESPN2|
|Southland||Katy, Texas||March 9-13||March 13, 9:30 p.m., ESPN2|
|Summit||Sioux Falls, S.D.||March 6-9||March 9, 9 p.m., ESPN2|
|Sun Belt||Pensacola, Fla.||March 5-8||March 8, 7 p.m., ESPN2|
|SWAC||Birmingham, Ala.||March 10-13||March 13, 6 p.m., ESPNU|
|WAC||Las Vegas||March 10-13||March 13, 10 p.m., ESPNU|
|West Coast||Las Vegas||March 4-6 & 8-9||March 9, 9 p.m., ESPN|