We are entering the final full Saturday of regular season action, with early conference tournament play just a few days away. With that in mind, the SCGD has a host of important games to choose from today. Of course, first and foremost, the Grambling watch will continue at 6:00 PM Eastern when the Tigers host Alabama State in their final regular season game (though they will have the SWAC tournament to go even if they lose today). However, Grambling’s game is not today’s SCGD.
There are three games scheduled today in the Ohio Valley Conference that will determine the league’s final 2 qualifiers for its conference tournament. SIU-Edwardsville at Eastern Illinois (5:00 PM Eastern) will determine one spot. The other will go to Tennessee-Martin should they win at Austin Peay (8:30 PM Eastern). If UT-Martin loses, the final spot could still go to them (if Eastern Illinois wins), go to Tennessee Tech (if EIU loses and Tenn Tech gets a home win over Morehead State at 8:30 PM Eastern), or go to Eastern Illinois (if EIU, UT-Martin and Tenn Tech all lose). However, none of these games is today’s SCGD either.
Today’s Small Conference Game of the Day is the first true “win or go home” game of the season. The winner of today’s SCGD will advance into the 8 team Northeast Conference tournament with a shot at the automatic bid still possible. The loser’s season will be over. While this is a regular season game, it has the same effect of a first round conference tournament game and thus gets the nod as the SCGD.
St. Francis (NY) enters this afternoon’s game (4:30 PM Eastern) at 7-10 in the NEC, tied for 8th place. They are 11-17 overall on the season so far. The team they are tied with for 8th place is Sacred Heart, who is also 7-10 in the NEC and has a 9-19 overall record. The game will be played in Brooklyn Heights, NY at St Francis’s home court, giving the Terriers the edge for what is essentially a playoff game. Sacred Heart, though, does has the most notable win of either team on the season so far, having won at America East champion Stony Brook back in November. The Pioneers also won the first meeting between these two teams, a 66-65 victory back on January 5. However, records and prior results will be meaningless today. What matters is that the winner will be playing on next week in the NEC tournament and the loser’s season will be over.
As a final note, 13 conferences will be ending their regular seasons today, and we should start seeing conference tournament brackets announced as early as tonight: Atlantic Sun, Big South, Colonial, Horizon League, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot League, Southern, Summit League, Sun Belt, SWAC, and West Coast.