March Madness not limited to ACC: North Carolina’s other tourney teams

Six teams are still in the running in their respective conference tournaments

Davidson guard Kellan Grady and coach Bob McKillop will need to pull off a string of upsets in the Atlantic 10 Tournament if the Wildcats want to go to their second NCAA Tournament in three years. (Gary Landers / AP Photo)

North Carolina has 14 Division I teams that aren’t part of the ACC Tournament, and six of them are still in the running for an automatic bid in their respective conference tournaments.

Here’s a roundup of the other conference tournament action involving non-ACC teams from North Carolina.

About to tip


Norfolk Scope Arena • Norfolk, Virginia

This is likely the state’s best chance to get a tournament bid outside of the ACC. North Carolina Central won the regular season at 13-3, while North Carolina A&T was in second place, a game back.

Both teams got byes into Wednesday’s quarterfinals. Their opponents were determined after press time on Tuesday, but Central will play either 8-seed Delaware State or 9-seed Maryland Eastern Shore. A&T will battle either No. 7 South Carolina State or No. 10 Howard.

A&T has won more than twice as many MEAC titles as any other school, but the Aggies haven’t cut down the nets since 2013. Central has won the tournament four times, including the last three.

LeVelle Moton’s NCCU Eagles have gotten hot at the right time, winning five straight and 10 of 11 to get to 17-13 on the year.

A&T won four of the last five and nine of the last 12 to get to 16‑15.

Conference USA

Ford Center at The Star • Frisco, Texas

Charlotte enters the CUSA tourney as the fourth seed following a 10-8 conference record. The 49ers ended the regular season in a 2-4 skid but got a bye in Wednesday’s opening round. Charlotte will open in Thursday’s quarterfinals against either No. 5 FIU or No. 12 Rice. Charlotte lost its only matchup with Rice, by 16 points, and split its two games with FIU, winning by 26 and losing by 15.

Barring an upset, Charlotte would get No. 1 North Texas on Friday in the semis. Each team won at home, splitting the two meetings. No. 2 Western Kentucky or No. 3 Louisiana Tech would likely be waiting in the title game.

Atlantic 10

Barclays Center • Brooklyn

Davidson was expected to compete for the league title but enters as the 7-seed after a disappointing regular season. The Wildcats lost two of their last three to finish the regular season at 16-14, 10-8 in the A10.

Davidson opens in Thursday’s second round against No. 10 La Salle. The Wildcats pounded La Salle in their only meeting this year, winning at home by 25. A win would get Davidson a Friday quarterfinal date with 2-seed Richmond. The Spiders swept Davidson, including a 17-point win a week ago.

Rhode Island, which split with the Wildcats on the way to the third seed, would be the likely semifinal opponent. Standing in the way of everyone is Dayton, which is playing for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

American Athletic Conference

Dickies Arena • Fort Worth, Texas

East Carolina faces long odds in the AAC. The Pirates enter as the 11th seed after finishing second-to-last with a 5-13 record. The Pirates have lost three straight, six of seven, nine of 11 and 12 of 15.

ECU’s quest to win four games in four days starts on Thursday against sixth-seeded Memphis (21-10, 10-8).

The Tigers were expected to be an NCAA title dark horse but lost top freshman and player of the year candidate James Wiseman to an eligibility battle with the NCAA early in the season. They’ve put together a bubble-worthy season with the rest of what was one of the nation’s best recruiting classes.

ECU played the Tigers close in their only meeting, losing by four in Memphis. If they get past Memphis, the Pirates will face No. 3 Tulsa in the quarterfinals. ECU was swept by Tulsa, losing by 14 and 16 in the regular season. Cincinnati and Houston would likely be lurking in the final two rounds if East Carolina makes it that far.

Still in the Running

Sun Belt Conference

Smoothie King Center • New Orleans

Appalachian State is playing to get to the neutral site games in the shadow of the Superdome. The Mountaineers got the sixth seed with an 11-9 record. They’re now 18-14 overall after knocking off No. 10 Coastal Carolina, 70-65, at home in Monday’s second-round game. 

Now the Mountaineers head to the Lone Star State to take on No. 3 Texas State, which had a bye through the first two rounds of the tournament. App split with the Bobcats, winning by three in Boone and losing by 25 in San Marcos.

Wednesday’s winners head to the Big Easy for the semifinals and championship game. App needs to take the title to get into the NCAA Tournament.

All Wrapped Up

Colonial Athletic Association

Entertainment and Sports Arena • Washington, D.C.

The CAA had a pair of North Carolina teams with losing records. One put together a Cinderella run and fell just short.

UNC Wilmington entered as the ninth seed with a 5-13 record. The Seahawks were one-and-done in the tournament, losing to No. 8 Drexel, 66-55, to end their season at 10-22.

Elon got a taste of March Madness. The Phoenix entered as the No. 7 seed at 7-11. The Phoenix survived No. 10 James Madison in the first round, 63-61, then knocked off second-seeded William & Mary, 68-63.

The magical run ended in the semifinals, however, as No. 6 Northeastern got the chance to take the glass slipper into the championship game, beating Elon 68-60 and ending the Phoenix season at 12-21.

Big South Conference

Dedmon Center • Radford, Virginia  |  Winthrop Coliseum • Rock Hill, South Carolina

It was carnage for the four North Carolina teams in the Big South with no one beating a team from outside the state. Tenth-seeded High Point and 11th seed Campbell didn’t make it to the neutral site, losing to USC Upstate and UNC Asheville, respectively, in the first round.

No. 6 Asheville lost to Gardner-Webb in the quarterfinals, and the Bulldogs lost to eventual champion Winthrop in the next round, 78-66.

Southern Conference

Harrah’s Cherokee Center • Asheville

It was a disappointing run for Western Carolina and UNC Greensboro in the SoCon tourney. Fifth-seeded WCU knocked off No. 4 Mercer in the quarterfinals then got thumped by eventual champion East Tennessee State, losing 97-75.

UNC Greensboro came in as the No. 3 seed but got upset by No. 6 Chattanooga, losing by 10 in its only game.