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Three Teams Punch Ticket to the Big Dance After Monday Play

On Monday, three teams punched their tickets for the Big Dance and none has endured a longer drought in the group than Delaware (25-9, 14-2). The team defeated William and Mary (20-12, 12-6) 75-74 to win the Colonial Athletic Association championship and sealed their entry to the NCAA tournament–a first since 1999.

Delaware was down by one with 25 seconds remaining. At the 12.8 second-mark, Carl Baptiste hit a layup to give Delaware a much-needed 75-74 advantage. William and Mary’s Marcus Thornton’s tried for a possible game-winning shot but it hit the rim and the Blue Hens got the victory.

Carl Baptiste

Carl Baptiste

For the night, Baptiste led in scoring with a career-high 24 points and eight boards.

While it’s been 15 years since the Blue Hens have gone dancing, last done under the coaching of Mike Brey, it isn’t their first time. They have qualified for the tournament back in 1992, 1993, 1998 and 1999, but Monday’s game represented their first CAA championship game.

The team can rest easy for Selection Sunday and will most likely enter the tournament as a No. 13 seed.

And because things happen in threes, two other teams learned they will go to the Big Dance on Monday. Manhattan (25-7, 15-5) and Wofford ((20-12, 11-5) are now automatic qualifiers after their Monday night wins.

Manhattan, who has the honor of the second longest dry spell at 10 years, defeated Iona (22-10, 17-3), 71-68 on Monday and won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament title. Rewind one year ago and in this same matchup, it had the opposite outcome.

Revenge can be sweet.

Manhattan got on a roll in the last month of the season as it won its last 11 of 12 games and its second victory in 10 days over Iona as they also defeated their rival 80-77 in overtime.

For this title-winning game, Manhattan had four players scoring in double figures: George Beamon with 17 points, followed by Rhamel Brown with 15 points, Shane Richards contributed 14 and Emmy Andujar added 12.

Manhattan coach Steve Masiello said of his team’s recent run, “This is just an amazing run. It doesn’t happen. It’s storybook-like. Normally you have like two or three things that are wrong. There’s nothing wrong.”

Masiello has been included in the conversation of coaches on the rise. Should his team have a good tournament run, will he trade up for a more prestigious program? He has been with Manhattan since 2011 and in 2004 when it last went to the Big Dance, he was an assistant on the staff.

As for Iona, they’ll miss the tournament for the first time in three years.

And the final team to see its entry for the 2014 tournament on Monday was Wofford, who defeated West Carolina (19-5, 10-6), 56-53, for the Southern Conference championship. The Terriers tried to stage a comeback as the clock ran out with a 3-pointer to send it to overtime but the ball just hit the rim.

Karl Cochran

Karl Cochran

Karl Cochran led in scoring for Wofford with his 23 points; he had been named the Most Outstanding Player for the tournament. He scored five 3-pointers and also went 8 for 16 from the field. With 5.3 seconds remaining, he gave Wofford its game-winning lead thanks to two free throws.

Going to the Big Dance isn’t anything new for this team.This will be its third visit to the tournament over the five previous years, but a first visit since 2011.

Looking ahead to Tuesday’s action, there’s the Conference USA tournament.  Louisiana Tech (25-6, 13-3) has the top seed but entered it in a four-way tie for the title with Tulsa (18-12, 13-3), Middle Tennessee (23-8, 13-3) and Southern Miss (26-5, 13-3). They all have double byes and will not begin play until Thursday.

The top odds for the tournament include the following:

Louisiana Tech 13/10
UTEP 4/1
Middle Tennessee 9/2
Tulsa 9/2
Southern Miss 5/1
UAB 33/1
Old Dominion 50/1


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