NCAA set to release 68-team tournament bracket

(Davidson players celebrate after knocking off Rhode Island for the Atlantic 10 championship.)

By Jerry Briggs

The 68-team NCAA tournament bracket is set for release Sunday at 5 p.m.

You can click on this link and fill it in as the teams are announced on national television, on TBS.

For the fourth time, San Antonio will host the Final Four.

The NCAA semifinals and finals will be held March 31 and April 2 at the Alamodome.

Sunday’s highlights

The up-and-down Kentucky Wildcats won the Southeastern Conference title Sunday, beating Tennessee 77-72.

Guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander exploded for 29 point and 7 rebounds to lead the Wildcats to the win over the SEC co-champions.

Tennessee entered the game projected as a No. 3 seed and Kentucky a No. 5 seed.

In a game that is expected to force the selection committee to drop one of its at-large selections from the field, Davidson beat Rhode Island 58-57 to win the Atlantic 10.

As a result, Davidson moves in unexpectedly to secure the conference’s automatic bid.

Rhode Island, projected as either a No. 7 or No. 8 seed, likely will make the tournament as an at large to effectively bump another team out.

In other games, Cincinnati scored a 56-55 victory over the Houston Cougars to claim the American Athletic championship.

Also, Georgia State won the Sun Belt title in New Orleans with a 74-61 victory over UT Arlington.

Sunday’s scores

(Tournament finals)

American — Cincinnati 56, Houston 55

Sun Belt — Georgia State 74, UT Arlington 61

Southeastern Conference — Kentucky 77, Tennessee 72

Atlantic 10 — Davidson 58, Rhode Island 57

Ivy League — Penn 68, Harvard 65

Saturday’s scores

(Tournament finals)

Big West — Cal State Fullerton 71, UC Irvine 55

Pac-12 — Arizona 75, USC 61

Western Athletic Conference — New Mexico State 72, Grand Canyon 58

Atlantic Coast Conference — Virginia 71, North Carolina 63

Southland Conference — Stephen F. Austin 59, Southeastern Louisiana 55

Conference USA — Marshall 67, Western Kentucky 66

Big Sky — Montana 82, Eastern Washington 65

Big East — Villanova 76, Providence 66, OT

Big 12 — Kansas 81, West Virginia 70

Mountain West — San Diego State 82, New Mexico 75

MAC — Buffalo 76, Toledo 66

America East – Maryland-Baltimore County 65, Vermont 62

MEAC — North Carolina Central 71,, Hampton 63

SWAC — Texas Southern 84, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 69

(Former UTSA assistants Jeremy Cox (left) and Kyle Keller (second from right) pose for the team picture on Saturday after Stephen F. Austin won the Southland Conference title).

Conference / NCAA 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)

Patriot League — Bucknell (25-9)

America East — Maryland-Baltimore County (24-10)

MEAC — North Carolina Central (19-15)

SWAC — Texas Southern (15-19)

Big 12 — Kansas (27-7)

Mountain West — San Diego State (22-10)

Big East — Villanova (30-4)

MAC — Buffalo (26-8)

Conference USA — Marshall (24-10)

Southland — Stephen F. Austin (28-6)

Atlantic Coast — Virginia (31-2)

Big Sky — Montana (26-7)

Western Athletic Conference — New Mexico State (28-5)

Pac-12 — Arizona (27-7)

Big West — Cal State Fullerton (20-11)

Ivy League — Penn (24-8)

Southeastern — Kentucky (24-10)

Atlantic 10 — Davidson (21-11)

Sun Belt — Georgia State (24-10)

American — Cincinnati (30-4)

(Sophomore guard Rawle Alkins throws down a monster dunk, helping Arizona power past Southern Cal in the Pac-12 tournament).

Kentucky toughens up, holds off Texas A&M, 74-73

Kentucky coach John Calipari was calling for toughness from his team Tuesday night in a Southeastern Conference struggle against Texas A&M.

For awhile, the Aggies out-toughed the Wildcats, playing on even terms for most of the night and then pushing out to a six-point lead with a little less than nine minutes remaining.

In the end, you could say the Wildcats heeded their coach’s call.

But after Kentucky’s late push allowed it to escape with a 74-73 victory at rowdy Rupp Arena in Lexington, you could also argue that A&M just simply let the game get away.

The Aggies turned it over too many times down the stretch, not to mention missing three key free throws.

As a result, the Wildcats (13-3, 3-1) took another baby step toward the excellence that their fans demand, while luck-less A&M (11-5, 0-4) lost its fourth straight.

Forward Tyler Davis and the Aggies, a team once ranked fifth in the nation a few weeks ago, put up a pretty good fight.

Davis hit 8 of 10 shots from the field and led A&M with 21 points.

Guard Admon Gilder added 14 in his first game back after sitting out five straight with a knee injury.

But the Aggies made far too many mistakes at the end to win.

Hamidou Diallo led the Wildcats with 18 points, while back-court mate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was everywhere and did almost everything, producing 16 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks.

In addition, PJ Washington scored 16 and Kenny Knox added 15.

A&M lost 69-68 to LSU on Saturday in College Station, when Tremont Waters hit a three with 1 second left to win it for the Tigers.

The end at Kentucky was almost as gruesome for the Aggies, who missed two wide-open, three-point shots in the final 23 seconds.

Trailing by the eventual final score, A&M also had a chance on the final play.

Kentucky missed two free throws and A&M kicked it out to the wing.

But when the Aggies tried to throw a long pass to the other end, it sailed out of bounds and over an A&M player tangled up with a Kentucky player in the paint.

Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said he thinks his team had opportunities in a hard-fought game.

“I thought when we needed to make … a big shot, we got good looks,” Kennedy said. “We just didn’t knock em down. We just didn’t make enough plays at the end and (we) put them at the free-throw line in one stretch that was critical.

“I think they shot six or eight free throws in a row. We had a hard time guarding them without fouling.”

Kennedy didn’t take issue with the non-call on the last play, but he did say his players were not happy with it.

“At the end, there, I didn’t see what happened,” he said. “That’s a tough call to make. Our guys tell me he was bear-hugged (by a Kentucky player).

“But I don’t know if the clock went out there. I don’t know what happened. It’s something I got to go watch.”

Calipari said later that his team still hasn’t reached the level of toughness it needs to play at a higher level.

“Look,” he said, “toughness doesn’t mean roughness.”

“Toughness means that you’re engaged, that you’re playing people before they catch the ball, that you’re meeting people before the ball hits the rim, that you’re sprinting the floor every time and bouncing, and you’re talking.

“We got closer but we’re still … that’s going to be a work in progress. And until we get real good at that, we’re going to be who we are.”