Murray State Racers
Ohio Valley Conference (30-4, 17-1)
Cornell got things started on Friday night with their third consecutive NCAA Tournament berth and three more guaranteed themselves spots in the Field of 65 on Saturday. In the most anticipated of the three finals it was Murray State picking up their 30th win of the season, dethroning defending Ohio Valley champ Morehead State 62-51 in Nashville. Isaiah Canaan scored 16 points off the bench to lead the way for Billy Kennedy's team, who will represent the OVC in the Big Dance for the first time since 2006.
While three leagues begin conference tournament play on Tuesday there's also plenty of things to be settled in conferences who won't start their tourneys until next week. Florida and Illinois are two teams that look to be in good shape as of right now but both are faced with ranked opponents who would vault them into the Big Dance for sure were they to win. The Gators host Vanderbilt, a team that's still got designs on the SEC's overall title, in a game they can win provided guards Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton make sound decisions with the basketball.
Bad news hit West Lafayette and Columbia on Thursday afternoon, with Purdue's Robbie Hummel and Missouri's Justin Safford both going down for the remainder of the season with torn ACLs. The more important ligament on a national level: clearly that would be Hummel's, and his injury could be the difference in seed lines for the Boilermakers. Many have used Kenyon Martin's broken leg back in 2000 as the comparison to Purdue losing Hummel, but that's a bit off when you further examine the cases.
Does Thursday represent Conference USA's "last stand" in regards to possibly avoiding the fate of being a one-bid league? Probably not but an upset by Tulsa at Duke would go a long way in giving the conference at least two bids. The Golden Hurricane can give the Blue Devils some trouble inside due to the presence of an NBA-caliber big man in senior Jerome Jordan.
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