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2024 March Madness: Conference tournament scores, brackets, automatic bids, tickets punched to Big Dance

A loaded Saturday of conference tournament action saw several more NCAA Tournament bids secured just one day before the 68-team field is revealed in the Selection Show on CBS. 

Western Kentucky made a quick turnaround under Steve Lutz, reaching its first NCAA Tournament since 2013 in his first season as coach. The No. 3 seed Hilltoppers downed No. 5 seed UTEP 78-71 in the Conference USA title game and are a deep group of contributors.

Long Beach State and coach Dan Monson announced on Monday their intention to “mutually part ways” at season’s end. On Saturday, he coached his team to a 74-70 victory over No. 2 seed UC Davis in the Big West Tournament title game. The Beach had lost five straight to close the regular season, making the run all the more surprising.

Grambling is headed to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in its 47-year Division I history after the Tigers beat Texas Southern 75-66 in the SWAC Tournament title game. The program has consistently been among the SWAC’s most competitive in Donte Jackson’s seven seasons as coach and now gets to represent the league on the national stage.

Saint Peter’s is returning to the NCAA Tournament two years after its historic run to the Elite Eight. The Peacocks won the MAAC Tournament as the No. 5 seed, edging No. 2 seed Fairfield 68-63 to cap a dramatic three-day run marked by a series of close wins. Only a couple of players from the 2022 team remain, and the coach has changed. But the Peacocks are strutting to the Big Dance again.

Akron earned the MAC’s automatic bid by knocking off No. 8 seed Kent State 62-61 after Greg Tribble hit a pair of free throws with four seconds remaining. It marks the second appearance in the past three seasons for coach John Groce’s team. The Zips are one of the nation’s oldest teams, which could make them a tough draw in the NCAA Tournament.

Vermont secured its third straight NCAA Tournament bid with a 66-61 win over UMass Lowell in the America East title game to begin Saturday’s action. The Catamounts are projected as a No. 13 seed for the Big Dance in Jerry Palm’s Bracketology as they take a 28-6 record into Selection Sunday. Coach John Becker’s squad boasts no singular star but is deep and has veterans who have been dancing before.

Howard emerged with the MEAC’s automatic bid after a winning the league tournament as the No. 4 seed with a 70-67 victory over Delaware State in the title game. It will be the second straight NCAA Tournament appearance for the Bison under coach Kenneth Blakeney. Prior to last season, Howard hadn’t been dancing since 1992.

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The last automatic bids to the 2024 NCAA Tournament will be secured Sunday in the final hours leading up to the Selection Show on CBS at 6 p.m. Eastern. Among the six conferences that will crown tournament winners are leagues like the AAC, Ivy League and Atlantic 10, all of which could produce surprise representatives for the Big Dance.

No. 4 seed Brown upset No. 1 seed Princeton in the Ivy League semifinals on Saturday and will take on No. 2 seed Yale for the title. In the A-10, No. 5 seed VCU is taking on No. 6 seed Duquesne to cap what’s been a bracket of chaos. 

The AAC Tournament’s title game is perhaps the most unlikely of all, however. No. 11 seed Temple, which started 1-11 in league play, will take on No. 4 seed UAB for a spot in the Big Dance. The Owls, who are led by first-year c coach Adam Fisher, have also reportedly been under scrutiny for unusual betting activity surrounding their games.

As automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament are secured, we’ll be noting each of them here.  

Saturday’s conference tournament scoreboard

America East: Championship
(1) Vermont 66, (2) UMass Lowell 61 | Recap

MEAC: Championship
(4) Howard 70, (6) Delaware State 67 | Recap

Big 12: Championship LIVE updates
(2) Iowa State 69, (1) Houston 41

Mountain West: Championship LIVE updates
(6) New Mexico 68,  (5) San Diego State 61

Big East: Championship LIVE updates
(1) UConn 73, (3) Marquette 57

MAC: Championship
(2) Akron 62, (8) Kent State 61

MAAC:Championship
(5) St. Peter’s 68, (2) Fairfield 63

ACC: Championship LIVE updates
(10) NC State 84, (1) North Carolina 76

Conference USA: Championship
(3) Western Kentucky 78,  (5) UTEP 71

Pac-12: Championship LIVE updates
(4) Oregon 75, (3) Colorado 68

Big West: Championship
(4) Long Beach State 74, (2) UC Davis 70

SWAC: Championship
(1) Grambling  75, (3) Texas Southern 66

WAC: Championship
(1) Grand Canyon  89, (3) UT Arlington 74 

OTHER CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS IN ACTION

2024 conference tournament schedules, champions

All times ET

Conference City Dates Final (TV) / Champion
ACC Washington D.C. March 12-16 NC State (22-14)
America East Campus Sites March 9, 12, 16 Vermont (28-6)
American Fort Worth, Texas March 13-17 Sunday, March 17
3:15 p.m. (ESPN)
ASUN Campus Sites March 4-5, 7, 10 Stetson (22-12)
Atlantic 10 Brooklyn March 12-14, 16-17 Sunday, March 17
1 p.m. (CBS)
Big 12 Kansas City March 12-16 Iowa State (27-7)
Big East New York City March 13-16 UConn (31-3)
Big Sky Boise, Idaho March 9, 10-13 Montana State (17-17)
Big South High Point, North Carolina March 6, 8-10 Longwood (21-13)
Big Ten Minneapolis March 13-17 Sunday, March 17
3:30 p.m. (CBS)
Big West Henderson, Nevada March 13-16 Long Beach State (20-14)
Coastal Athletic Washington, D.C. March 8-12 Charleston (27-7)
Conference USA Huntsville, Alabama March 12-16 Western Kentucky (21-11)
Horizon League Campus sites | Indianapolis March 5, 7, 11-12 Oakland (23-11)
Ivy New York City March 16-17 Sunday, March 17
12 p.m. (ESPN2)
MAAC Atlantic City, New Jersey March 12-16 Saint Peter’s (19-13)
MAC Cleveland March 14-16 Akron (23-10) 
MEAC Norfolk, Virginia March 13-16 Howard (18-16)
Missouri Valley St. Louis March 7-10 Drake (28-6)
Mountain West Las Vegas March 13-16 New Mexico (26-9) 
Northeast Campus Sites March 6, 9, 12 Wagner (16-15)
Ohio Valley Evansville, Indiana March 6-9 Morehead State (26-8)
Pac-12 Las Vegas March 13-16 Oregon (75-68)
Patriot Campus Sites March 5, 7, 10, 13 Colgate (25-9) 
SEC Nashville March 13-17 Sunday, March 17
1 p.m. (ESPN)
Southern Asheville, North Carolina March 8-11 Samford (29-5)
Southland Lake Charles, Louisiana March 10-13 McNeese (30-3)
Summit Sioux Falls, South Dakota March 8-12 South Dakota State (22-12)
Sun Belt Pensacola, Florida March 5, 7, 9, 10-11 James Madison (31-3)
SWAC Birmingham, Alabama March 13-16 Grambling (19-14)
WAC Las Vegas March 13-16 Grand Canyon (29-4)
WCC Las Vegas March 7-9, 11-12 Saint Mary’s (26-7)

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