With the calendar officially turned to March, postseason college basketball is underway. The local schools all take the court this week in their respective conference tournaments, with Lipscomb kicking things off on Tuesday night at 7.
The Bisons finished 13-18 (6-10 in ASUN play) this season, slotting them in as the number four-seed from the west division and setting them up with an opening-round matchup at Allen Arena against the east division’s five-seed North Florida (11-19, 7-9) in the conference’s revamped tournament format.
The Bisons got the best of UNF 77-74 on the road in the season’s lone matchup between the two. A win would give Lipscomb a date with ASUN heavyweight Liberty and back-to-back conference player of the year Darius McGhee, who is currently second in the nation in scoring at 24.7 points per game.
The key for the Bisons will be big man Ahsan Asadullah, fresh off becoming the third Bison and 11th overall player in ASUN history to be named first-team all-conference in three consecutive seasons. He is one of just 16 players in all of Division I to lead their team in points (14.9), rebounds (9.0), and assists (4.5).
On the women’s side, Lipscomb is set for the exact same matchup on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The west division four-seed Bisons (10-19, 5-11) will take on east division five-seed North Florida (12-16, 5-11) in Allen Arena. UNF won the regular season meeting 83-75 in Jacksonville.
Once again, FGCU enters the tournament as the favorite. The Eagles finished the season 26-2, with a 15-1 conference record, and spent much of the latter half of the season ranked in the top-25.
The OVC Tournament begins on Wednesday and both the men’s and women’s squads from Tennessee State will be in action at the Ford Center in Evansville.
The eight-seed TSU (11-18, 6-12) women are set to play four-seed Eastern Illinois (16-13, 11-7) at 1 p.m. on Wednesday.
Freshman Gia Adams just became the first player in program history to be named the OVC Freshman of the Year. She leads all OVC freshmen and is second on the team in scoring at 12.6 points per game.
The TSU (13-17, 8-10) men enter the postseason as the four-seed and will face off with eight-seed SIUE (11-20, 5-13). TSU swept the season series, winning 75-70 on the road and 81-65 at the Gentry Center.
Tigers Kassim Nicholson and Carlos Marshall Jr. were both named to the OVC All-Second Team. Nicholson averages 11.6 points and a team-best 8.4 rebounds, while Marshall Jr. scores a team-high 13.4 points per contest.
Thanks to the OVC’s tournament setup, both Belmont squads received byes to the conference tournament semifinals.
The Bruins (20-7, 16-2) hit the court on Friday at 1 p.m. as the tournament favorites. Belmont hails the OVC Coach of the Year in Bart Brooks (his second time winning the award) as well as the OVC Defensive Player of the Year in Tuti Jones.
Jones was joined on the all-conference first-team by Destinee Wells and Madison Bartley. The trio all averaged double-figures in scoring, with Wells leading the way at 16.3 points per game, and Bartley and Jones both notching exactly 11.6 per outing.
After dancing around the NCAA Tournament bubble all season long, the Belmont (25-6, 15-3) men enter the OVC Tournament officially at win-or-go-home status. The Bruins are the two-seed in the bracket, setting them up to play on Friday at 9:30 p.m.
Belmont racked up a number of postseason honors as Franklin native and Independence alum Grayson Murphy, Nick Muszynski, and Ben Sheppard were all named to the OVC All-First Team.
Murphy fills up the stat sheet to the tune of 7.6 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 2.4 steals per game, while Sheppard leads the team in scoring at a 16.3 points per game clip and Muszynski adds 15.9 points and 5.2 rebounds.
The Bruins will need all of that firepower and more to take down top-seeded Murray State should they meet in the title game once again. The Racers (28-2, 18-0) boast the league’s player (KJ Williams) and coach (Matt McMahon) of the year and bested Belmont by 22 and 33 points in their two matchups this season.