Counting it down: Title field cut to 171


An absolutely classic night of postseason basketball led to the eviction of 18 teams from the national championship chase. We have 171 left.

There were four overtime games, two of them double OT. There were two other one-point games won on shots in the final five seconds. There were huge comebacks and massive collapses. There were bodies flying from coast-to-coast in desperate pursuit of March glory.

The biggest share of glory was grabbed by Arkansas-Little Rock guard Solomon Bozeman, whose 3-pointer with 1.5 seconds left gave the Trojans the Sun Belt title over North Texas. It is the school's first NCAA bid since 1990, when UALR went on to shock Notre Dame in the first round.

Way back in early November, I ran into the UALR coaching staff after the Trojans upset SMU on the road to open the season. I talked to head coach Steve Shields and assistant Joe Kleine (yes, the former NBA center) and they were very excited about their team's potential. But then UALR suffered three different three-game losing streaks on the way to a 15-16 regular-season record.

Then the Trojans won four games in four days, capped by Bozeman's shot in the 58th second of the 160th minute of tourney play.

Great stuff.

But since the job of this nightly blog installment is to deal with the losers, not the winners, let's count down those who are dismissed from national championship contention:

A-10: George Washington (upset by St. Joseph's in OT). St. Bonaventure (beaten by LaSalle in double OT). Saint Louis (beaten by Rhode Island). Massachusetts (beaten by Dayton).

Big East: DePaul (beaten by Connecticut). Seton Hall (beaten in overtime by Rutgers). Providence (beaten by Marquette).

Big Sky: Weber State (beaten by Montana 57-40 in an oddball game for the ages -- Weber failed to score for the first 7 1/2 minutes and the last 7:45, outscored 25-0 in those two catastrophic dry spells). Northern Arizona (beaten by Northern Colorado).

Horizon: Milwaukee (beaten by Butler).

MAC: Central Michigan (beaten by Buffalo). Northern Illinois (beaten by Bowling Green). Eastern Michigan (beaten by Akron). Toledo (beaten by Ohio).

MEAC: Florida A&M (beaten by Maryland-Eastern Shore in double OT). Delaware State (beaten by South Carolina State).

Summit: Oral Roberts (beaten by Oakland).

Sun Belt: North Texas (beaten by Arkansas-Little Rock).