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March 9, 2009

Rivals.com Daily NCAA Tournament Tracker

Conference tournament breakdown

Four conference finals headline the schedule as the "major" conferences take a break before their league tournaments begin.

We will update our "Tournament Tracker" daily as we count down toward Selection Sunday. We take a look at the day's best game and explain how it will impact the NCAA field, as well as spotlight the key game involving bubble teams. We also will review how bubble teams performed in their previous day's games.

Colonial Athletic Association tourney final
George Mason vs. VCU in Richmond, Va., 7 p.m., ESPN2
Neither team has an at-large shot. Second-seeded George Mason is going for its second consecutive CAA tourney title, while top-seeded VCU is looking for its second tourney title in three seasons. VCU won the only regular-season meeting between the teams, by five points. VCU has to get a big game from senior point guard Eric Maynor.
Southern Conference tourney final
College of Charleston at Chattanooga, 7 p.m., ESPN
Charleston has won eight in a row, including a semifinal victory over top-seeded Davidson. Also included in that streak is a nine-point win at Chattanooga in the teams' only meeting this season. Chattanooga is at home, but Charleston is the better team.
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tourney final
Niagara at Siena, 9 p.m., ESPN2
Top-seeded Siena has a shot at an at-large bid should it lose, but it would depend a lot on what bubble teams do in the major-conference tourneys. These teams split in the regular season, with second-seeded Niagara winning by 15 at home in the regular-season finale. But the Saints won by 17 when they played host to the Purple Eagles, and the final is on Siena's home court.
West Coast Conference tourney final
Gonzaga vs. Saint Mary's in Las Vegas, 9 p.m., ESPN
Top-seeded Gonzaga is an NCAA lock, while second-seeded Saint Mary's has faint at-large hopes. Gonzaga swept the season series, but Saint Mary' star point guard Patrick Mills was injured late in the first half of the first game and missed all of the second game; Gonzaga's combined winning margin in the two games was 11 points. Mills returned in the WCC semifinals against Portland and scored 12 points. Gonzaga has won eight in a row and is 15-0 against WCC opponents this season.
Conference tournaments
Two other top seeds are in action in their conference tournaments. North Dakota State meets fifth-seeded Southern Utah in a Summit League semifinal in Sioux Falls, S.D., at 7 p.m. on ESPN FullCourt. Western Kentucky meets fourth-seeded North Texas in a Sun Belt semifinal in Hot Springs, Ark., at 7:30 p.m. on Altitude, MASN, Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast and ESPN FullCourt.
Siena: The Saints are discussed above. RPI: 24th. Record vs. RPI top 50: 0-4. Record vs. RPI top 100: 6-5.
Davidson: The Wildcats' at-large hopes basically are gone after they lost in the Southern Conference tourney semifinals to College of Charleston. The Wildcats were the top seed. The loss to Charleston was Davidson's second of the season to the Cougars. RPI: 69th. Record vs. RPI top 50: 1-4. Record vs. RPI top 100: 1-4.
Northwestern: Had the Wildcats won at Ohio State, they would've had an at-large shot heading into the Big Ten tourney. Now, they probably need to win it to have any shot at the NCAAs. They are three games under .500 against teams in the RPI top 200, and eight of their wins 17 wins came against teams that have an RPI of 200th or worse. RPI: 71st. Record vs. RPI top 50: 6-9. Record vs. RPI top 100: 6-10.
Saint Mary's: The Gaels kept their long shot at-large hopes alive by beating Portland in the West Coast tourney semifinals. While Saint Mary's will get a break from the selection committee because guard Patrick Mills missed about a third of the season, the Gaels have just three top-100 wins. At the same time, the Gaels might be the best team in the league with Mills. He's back, and it wouldn't be a surprise at all if they win the WCC final. Something to consider: Saint Mary's plays at home on Friday against Eastern Washington. Should the Gaels lose the WCC final and follow it up with a loss to EWU, the at-large hopes would be gone. Record vs. RPI top 50: 2-2. Record vs. RPI top 100: 3-3.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies' at-large hopes basically are gone after they lost at Florida State. It was their sixth loss in the past seven games and dropped them to 7-9 in the ACC. They almost certainly have to win the ACC tourney if they want to play in the NCAA tourney. RPI: 62nd. Record vs. RPI top 50: 2-8. Record vs. RPI top 100: 5-11.

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.

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