Vermont, Howard punch tickets to NCAA Tournament with wins in conference championship games | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Tuesday / June 18.
  • Vermont, Howard punch tickets to NCAA Tournament with wins in conference championship games

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    By SAM LANCE

    Two more automatic bid tickets to the NCAA Tournament were punched today with Vermont and Howard picking up wins in the championship games of their respective conference tournaments.

    No. 1 seed Vermont defeated No. 2 seed UMass Lowell, 66-61, in the American East championship while No. 4 seed Howard defeated No. 6 seed Delaware State, 70-67, in the MEAC title game.

    Vermont (28-6) has now won three straight AEC tournament championships and six of the last eight. The Catamounts were led by junior guards Shamir Bogues (15 points) and TJ Long (14 points) to secure the title vs. UMass Lowell.

    “Really hard-fought championship game win today. I’m so proud of this group,” Vermont head coach John Becker said. “You know, we’ve faced a lot of adversity. A lot of teams do. UMass Lowell had their adversities this year also with their injuries, and you know, but this group I think we’re 10-4 when we’re trailing at halftime and TJ Long had probably five game-winning shots throughout the course of the year. But this group is just so resilient and so tough.”

    Howard (18-16) is heading to the NCAA Tournament for a second-straight season for the first time in school history. The Bison were led by senior guard Jordan Hairston (18 points), junior guard Bryce Harris (16 points) and senior guard Seth Towns (16 points) vs. Delaware State.

    The Bison took down No. 1 seed Norfolk State to advance to the title game on Friday. In total, 15 No. 1 seeds have lost in their conference tournaments, including Purdue (Big 10), Tennessee (SEC) and Arizona (Pac 12).

    Per ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, Vermont is a projected No. 13 seed and Howard is a No. 16 seed set to play in the First Four in Dayton.

    “I’m not, going to let anyone in this program be comfortable with what we did, or have done,” Becker said. “We want to do the next thing. So, I’m going to continue to dream big here.”

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