Charleston claims first NCAA tourney bid since 1999

The College of Charleston rallied from a double-digit deficit in the second half Tuesday night to beat Northeastern 83-76 in overtime for the Colonial Athletic Association title.

As a result, the Cougars claimed their first NCAA tournament bid in 19 years.

Northeastern built a 42-25 lead with less than 18 minutes left in regulation in the game played at North Charleston, S.C.

But the Cougars refused to fold, and Joe Chealey led the way with 32 points.

Charleston hasn’t made the NCAA tournament since 1999.

In all five teams secured automatic bids on Tuesday, including the sixth-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs.

Gonzaza, an NCAA finalist last year, stormed past BYU 74-54 in Las Vegas.

Killian Tillie scored 22 as the Zags won their 30th game of the season and secured the West Coast Conference tournament championship trophy.

Elsewhere, in the Summit League, the South Dakota State Jackrabbits defeated South Dakota 97-87, at Sioux Falls, S.D.

LIU Brooklyn stunned favored Wagner 71-61 in New York to win the Northeast Conference title.

Also, Wright State won the Horizon League by pounding Cleveland State 74-57 at Detroit.

Conference / automatic qualifier

Ohio Valley — Murray State (26-5)

Missouri Valley – Loyola-Chicago (28-5)

Big Ten — Michigan (28-7)

Big South — Radford (22-12)

Atlantic Sun — Lipscomb (23-9)

Southern — UNC Greensboro (27-7)

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference — Iona (20-13)

West Coast Conference — Gonzaga (30-4)

Horizon — Wright State (25-9)

Northeast — LIU Brooklyn (18-16)

Colonial Athletic Association — Charleston (26-7)

Summit — South Dakota State (28-6)

How good is No. 6 Gonzaga? See for yourself tonight

How good is Gonzaga?

The question seems to blow in this time of year as predictably as a cold front out of Canada invading the northeastern reaches of Washington state.

As of Monday morning, the Zags are No. 6 in the nation according to the just-released Associated Top 25 poll.

But, as usual, opinions vary.

Jerry Palm of projects that Spokane, Washingon-based Gonzaga will receive only a No. 5 regional seed when the NCAA tournament bracket is released Sunday.

Meaning, that, in the eyes of the stat-crunchers, the national finalists from last year may only be the 17th- to 20th-best team in the nation.

If you’re curious about the disparity, one idea is to tune in to ESPN at 8 tonight.

That’s when the network is scheduled to air Gonzaga-San Francisco in the semifinals of the West Coast Conference tournament.

The other WCC semifinal also is interesting.

It’s 20th-ranked Saint Mary’s against BYU, set to air at 10:30 p.m. on the four-letter network.

Palm projects Saint Mary’s, from Moraga, California, as a No. 9 regional seed.

Once again, it’s a suggestion that the WCC is either vastly overrated or underrated.

With the WCC semis tonight and the finals on Tuesday, it’s time to see for ourselves, I guess.

AP Top 25
March 5, 2018

1. Virginia 28-2 ACC
2. Villanova 27-4 Big East
3. Xavier 27-4 Big East
4. Michigan State 29-4 Big Ten
5. Duke 25-6 ACC
6. Gonzaga 28-4 West Coast
7. Michigan 28-7 Big Ten
8. Cincinnati 27-4 American
9. Kansas 24-7 Big 12
10. Purdue 28-6 Big Ten
11. Wichita State 24-6 American
12. North Carolina 22-9 ACC
13. Tennessee 23-7 SEC
14. Texas Tech 23-8 Big 12
15. Arizona 24-7 Pac-12
16. Auburn 25-6 SEC
17. Ohio State 24-8 Big Ten
18. West Virginia 22-9 Big 12
19. Clemson 22-8 ACC
20. Saint Mary’s 28-4 West Coast
21. Houston 24-6 American
22. Nevada 26-6 Mountain Wesst
23. Florida 20-11 SEC
24. Miami (Fla.) 22-8 ACC
25. Rhode Island 23-6 Atlantic 10