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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