RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – The biggest two weeks of the year for men’s college basketball are about to begin, and teams on their way to the NCAA tournament have one last pit stop to make.
Conference championships are officially underway, and teams hoping to take part in the games need to either win their conference’s title or do well enough in their respective tournament to make a case for an “at-large” bid.
The teams from Virginia that are still vying for a spot have each established themselves as contenders to make the tournament, but they all still have quite formidable opponents standing in the way.
3:20 PM: Spiders win conference title, headed to NCAA Tournament
After a disappointing performance in the regular season which included going 0-2 against cross-town rival VCU, the 6-seed Richmond Spiders capped off an incredible Atlantic 10 tournament run with a win against the 1-seed Davidson Wildcats in the title game, 64-62.
Richmond has earned an automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament, becoming the fourth Virginia school to make it in. Their last trip was in 2011, when they made the Sweet Sixteen.
The Spiders led most of the first half and some of the second, but the Wildcats put themselves in the driver’s seat with just over 12 minutes left to play. They held a comfortable lead until a layup and subsequent and-one by Richmond forward Tyler Burton brought it within two with a minute remaining.
The score didn’t change until another three point play by guard Matt Grace put the Spiders up by one. The final score was cemented by a free throw by Jacob Gilyard in the final seconds, followed by three timeouts in a row and a missed three point attempt by Davidson guard Michael Jones.
Gilyard put on a season-defining performance, leading the Spiders with 26 points, as well as 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. Forward Tyler Burton had a double-double against the Wildcats, scoring 16 and grabbing 12 rebounds. Forward Sam Mennenga led the Wildcats with 18 points on 4-4 three point shooting, and had 5 rebounds, an assist and a steal.
Davidson boasted one of the nation’s most efficient offenses this season, ranking 7th in three point percentage and 15th in assist/turnover ratio. Richmond’s measured and disciplined style of play has earned them top-50 ranks in several team stats as well, ranking No. 11 in assist/turnover ratio, No. 13 in fewest personal fouls per game, No. 26 in fewest total fouls, No. 21 in fewest turnovers, No. 25 in turnover margin and No. 10 in fewest turnovers per game.
10:40 PM: Virginia Tech wins first ACC Championship in team history
The Virginia Tech Hokies have been unstoppable ever since freshman guard Darius Maddox sunk the game-winning three pointer to put them over the Clemson Tigers in their first game of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Since then, the Hokies have cruised past some of the ACC’s best teams, never trailing against 2-seed Notre Dame and beating 3-seed North Carolina by 13.
Tonight, Hokies guard Hunter Cattoor went off for 31 points and forward Keve Aluma led the team in rebounds and assists with 10 and 7 respectively, as well as 19 points.
Duke forward Paolo Banchero led his team in scoring with 20. Guard Wendell Moore led Duke in rebounds with 6 and guard Trevor Keels led the team in assists with 4.
Virginia Tech has earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, joining Longwood and Norfolk State as the only Virginia schools to have done so as of now.
5:45 PM: Richmond headed to A10 title game
The Richmond Spiders came back from behind against the 2-seed Dayton Flyers in the Atlantic 10 championship semifinal, 68-64 and will move on to the conference title game for the first time since 2011.
Spiders forward Grant Golden led the team in scoring and rebounding with 18 and 9 respectively, along with 4 assists. During the game, Golden recorded his 1000th rebound of the season, becoming the only active Division I player with 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.
Guard Jacob Gilyard led the Spiders with 5 assists and forward Matt Grace came off the bench to score 12 points, he also had four rebounds and a steal.
Dayton forward Toumani Camara led the Flyers in points and rebounds with 17 and 14 respectively. Guard Kobe Elvin led the Flyers in assists with 5.
The Spiders play the Davidson Wildcats in the A10 title game tomorrow at 1 p.m. on CBS and Paramount+
3:30 PM: Norfolk State headed to NCAA Tournament
The Norfolk State Spartans are back-to-back Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champions in men’s basketball and are headed to the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive season.
The Coppin State Eagles had an impressive run in the MEAC tournament as the 7-seed, but came up short against the Spartans, 57-72.
NSU guard Joe Bryant, Jr. led the Spartans with 23 points. Forward Dana Tate, Jr. had 8 rebounds and 13 points.
Coppin State guard Nendah Tarke led the Eagles with 19 points. Junior swingman Justin Steers came off the bench to score 12 and grab 7 boards.
11:40 PM: The Hokies leave the Tar Heels biting their dust
The Virginia Tech Hokies blew away the North Carolina Tar Heels Friday night, winning the ACC semifinal with a score of 72-59.
Freshman guard Darius Maddox came off the bench to lead the Hokies in points and rebounds, scoring 20 and grabbing 6 boards.
Tech point guard Storm Murphy led the team in assists with 7 and scored 7 points. Forward Keve Aluma scored 18, with 4 rebounds and 3 assists.
Forward Armando Bacot led North Carolina in points and rebounds with 19 and 14 respectively. Guards Leaky Black and Caleb Love tied for the most assists on the Tar Heels with 4 each.
Tech will continue on to play in the ACC final Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN.
11:03 PM: Richmond Spiders secure the win against VCU Rams
In the end, the Richmond Spiders came up victorious in their cross-town rivalry, winning their first game of the year against the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams in the third round of the A10 tournament Friday with a final score of 75-64.
Spiders guard Grant Gilyard played the full 40 minutes and scored 32 points on 7-12 shooting from beyond the three-point line and perfect free throw shooting.
Forward Vince Williams, Jr. led the Rams in points with 18, along with two steals and 9 rebounds. Starting point guard Ave Baldwin led the team in assists with 7.
The Spiders will continue on to play Dayton in the A10 semifinal Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. on CBSSN. The winner of Saturday’s game will play 1-seed Davidson in the A10 final Sunday at 1 p.m. on CBS.
8:30 PM: Norfolk State prevails against Morgan State
Norfolk State has come up victorious in their Friday night game versus Morgan State. The final score of the semifinal was 72-63.
Norfolk will advance to play in the MEAC final Saturday, March 12 at 1 p.m. on ESPN2.
3:55 PM: Crosstown rivals VCU, UR set to throw down in A10 semifinals
The story of VCU versus Richmond is that of two teams that are only six miles apart and have almost opposite personalities and playing styles.
The Virginia Commonwealth University Rams sport one of the nation’s best and most complete defenses, ranking No. 2 in defensive three-point percentage, No. 8 in turnovers forced per game, No. 9 in steals per game, No. 19 in total steals, No. 12 in defensive field goal percentage, No. 20 in blocks per game, No. 35 in total blocks and No. 14 in opposing points per game. The Rams win games by playing aggressive defense, turning turnovers into points and keeping the ball moving among their young stars.
The Richmond Spiders’ veteran squad shows incredible discipline on the floor, ranking No. 11 in assist/turnover ratio, No. 13 in fewest personal fouls per game, No. 26 in fewest total fouls, No. 21 in fewest turnovers, No. 25 in turnover margin and No. 10 in fewest turnovers per game. This contrasts heavily with the Rams, who are absent from the top 50 in all of those categories.
Richmond went 0-2 in the regular season against their crosstown rival, but their calm and collected style of play will definitely challenge VCU’s ability to cause disruption on defense.
The VCU Rams and Richmond Spiders play tonight at 8:30 p.m. on USA
3:30 PM: Sharpshooting Hokies hope to turn Tar Heels into upset victims
After hitting a game-winning three-pointer in the final seconds of their game against Clemson and an upset of 2-seed Notre Dame last night, the Virginia Tech Hokies are beginning to look like the Commonwealth’s hottest college team.
The 7-seed Hokies are currently on upset watch as they get ready to face the 3-seed North Carolina Tar Heels. Tech ranks in the top 50 in several offensive stats, including assist/turnover ratio, field goal percentage, three-pointers made per game, total three-pointers made and opposing points per game.
The Tar Heels rank highly in a few statistics. They shoot well at the line, are decent from beyond the three-point line and keep their personal fouls low. Their strongest showing in this year’s box scores has been defensive rebounds. The Tar Heels rank No. 6 in defensive rebounds nationally, meaning they absolutely punish teams with bad shot selection.
Unfortunately for the Tar Heels, this likely won’t help them much against the incredibly efficient Hokies, who had the country’s fourth-highest three-point percentage this year but didn’t even rank in the top 50 for three-point attempts. Virginia Tech will certainly limit North Carolina’s chances to make rebounding a difference-maker in the game.
As it stands now, the Hokies have no reason to be taken off upset watch.
The Virginia Tech Hokies and North Carolina Tar Heels tip-off tonight at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN and ESPN2.
2 PM: Shot-contending Spartans face ball-hawking Bears
The Norfolk State Spartans take one more step towards total Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference domination tonight as they get ready to face off against the Morgan State Bears from Baltimore.
Norfolk State has a lot to be proud of this season. The Spartans went 12-2 in WEAC play and are well on their way to the conference championship.
Norfolk State ended the regular season ranked No. 9 in the country in defensive rebounds per game, No. 11 in opposing three-point percentage and No. 2 in opposing field goal percentage. Though they’re the clear favorite to win the conference title this year, they face another team that plays dangerous defense tonight.
The Morgan State Bears from Baltimore forced the second-most turnovers out of any school in the whole country. Also, according to teamrankings.com, they ended the regular season with the lowest opposing free throw percentage in the country, though Norfolk State was not far behind at No. 6.
Though the matchup looks to be lopsided, these two historically Black universities are still set to put on a show defensively.
Norfolk State and Morgan State face off tonight at 6 p.m. on ESPN+
1:20 PM: UVA comes up short against Tar Heels
Both Virginia and Virginia Tech escaped their first-round matches by just one point on Wednesday night, and while the Hokies were able to effortlessly pull off the upset against Notre Dame, fate would not be so kind to the Cavaliers.
UVA had some things going for them this season, they broke into the top ten in opposing field goal percentage and limited their opponents’ chances at the line, ranking No. 15 for fewest personal fouls per game and No. 35 for fewest total fouls.
The Cavaliers have had an uncharacteristically bad year shooting, however, and could not get it done in the end against North Carolina, who are top-50 in free throw percentage, three point percentage, fewest personal fouls per game and rank No. 6 in defensive rebounding.