The darlings of the 2018 NCAA Tournament are headed back to the Big Dance as top-seeded Loyola Chicago locked up an automatic bid Sunday with a 75-65 win over No. 2 seed Drake in the championship game of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. After making the 2018 Final Four, Loyola Chicago won’t be taken lightly this time around, especially after putting together such an impressive season to this point.
With a 24-4 record and a veteran roster led by senior center Cameron Krutwig, who also played a key role on the 2018 team, the Ramblers will likely be a trendy pick to advance in March Madness. They entered Sunday as a projected No. 12 seed, according to Jerry Palm’s Bracketology, but can now rest easy on Selection Sunday after securing their bid. Drake, on the other hand will hope the NCAA Tournament selection committee appreciates the resilience of a team that suffered crushing injuries over the past month.
Drake played Sunday’s game without leading scorer ShanQuan Hemphill, who hasn’t played since breaking his foot in a game on Feb. 10. The Bulldogs also lost starting point guard Roman Penn to a broken foot recently. Penn is out for the season, but there is optimism that Hemphill could still return. Drake was one of Palm’s “last four in” as of Sunday.
Loyola Chicago was one of two teams to secure an automatic bid to the Big Dance on Sunday. Winthrop was the other, as the top-seeded Eagles completed a dominant run through the Big South by knocking off No. 3 seed Campbell 80-51 in the Big South Tournament title game. The victory makes Winthrop 23-1 entering the Big Dance. With three seniors and a junior as its four leading scorers, Winthrop is a veteran team that could also be dangerous in the NCAA Tournament. The Eagles are a deep team, as evidenced by the fact that coach Pat Kelsey deployed 11 players in the first half of Sunday’s win over Campbell.
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We’re keeping up with the various tournament schedules and automatic qualifiers here as the madness of March begins to heat up.
Sunday’s conference tournament schedule, scores
- ASUN: Championship
- Big South: Championship
- Colonial: Quarterfinals
- Missouri Valley: Championship
- Southern: Semifinals
- Sun Belt: Semifinals
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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||Winthrop (23-1)|
|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||Loyola Chicago (24-4)|
|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||Morehead State (23-7)|
|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|