March Madness is here - and the NCAA Tournament is in full swing! This exciting event brings together 68 teams from all over the country to compete for the chance to be crowned national champions. Of those teams, 32 have already earned automatic bids by winning their respective conference tournaments.
On Monday night, Louisiana and Furman secured their spots in March Madness with impressive victories in their conference tournaments. Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns defeated South Alabama 71-66 in the Sun Belt Tournament final, earning their first appearance in March Madness since 2014. Themus Folks led the way for Louisiana with an outstanding performance, scoring 23 points to help his team overcome a strong showing from South Alabama's Isaiah Moore. Meanwhile, Furman's Paladins avenged last year's heartbreaking loss in the SoCon title game by beating Chattanooga 88-79 in this year's championship match. Jalen Slawson led the way for Furman with 20 points, helping his team secure its first NCAA Tournament bid since 1980.
These two teams join other automatic qualifiers such as Liberty (ASUN), Winthrop (Big South), Iona (MAAC), UNC Greensboro (SoCon), and Morehead State (Ohio Valley) on their quest for March Madness glory. However, there are still many spots up for grabs as power conferences prepare to begin their tournaments this week. As we approach Selection Sunday, fans can expect even more excitement and drama as teams battle it out for spots in March Madness. With automatic bids on the line and dreams of Cinderella runs dancing in players' heads, it truly is the best time of year for college basketball fans. Monday was not short on thrilling games either, as several conference tournament championship games took place across different leagues. In addition to Louisiana and Furman's victories, there were also quarterfinals and semifinals underway in other tournaments such as Big Sky, CAA, Horizon League, Southland, Summit, and WCC.
Overall, it was another exciting day of college basketball that showcased why this sport is so beloved by millions of fans across America. As we inch closer to Selection Sunday and, ultimately, March Madness itself, you can be sure that there will be plenty more memorable moments yet to come. Stay tuned.