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The Little Dances: Championship Week Day 3 Preview

Mar 7, 2013, 10:00 AM EDT

cole dickerson AP

The NCAA Tournament doesn’t get going until March 19, but for the real college hoops fans, the days leading up to Selection Sunday is when the madness really begins. Over the next two weeks teams will fight for the postseason lives. Bubbles will burst and tickets will be punched, and Cinderellas will be born. This is the real March Madness.

(CLICK HERE to browse through all of our conference tournament previews)

Here’s what to watch for on Thursday.

Game of the Night: East Tennessee State vs. Stetson
The two teams split regular season games, with just three total points deciding the difference. Stetson is one of the top-30 teams in terms of efficient field goal percentage. On the flip side, the Buccaneers are one of the least efficient defensive teams in the country, having given up 80 or more points seven times this season. Plus, it’s a mid-afternoon start. There aren’t many things better than mid-afternoon single elimination basketball.

Player to Watch: Cole Dickerson, San Francisco
The 6-foot-7 junior has been a matchup nightmare for all WCC players not named Kelly Olynyk or Elias Harris. Dickerson has logged 11 double-doubles this season and is a threat to score from anywhere on the court. He’s one of the most talented and athletic mid-major players you’ve probably never heard of.

Miscellaneous Madness:
It’s day one of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, otherwise known as “Arch Madness”. While often considered one of the most entertaining tournaments on a yearly basis, three of the top four seeds have advanced to the semifinals every year for the past decade. In fact, a team seeded outside the top four has not made the finals since before 2006. So even while we can expect the unexpected, it’s almost guaranteed that one of the top fours seeds will win the automatic bid.

Tuesday Schedule:

Atlantic Sun Conference Quarterfinals
2:30 p.m. – East Tennessee State (6) vs. Stetson (3)
8:30 p.m. – USC Upstate (5)vs. Jacksonville (4)

Big South Conference Quarterfinals
Noon – Winthrop (5S) vs. Charleston Southern (1S)
2 p.m. – Longwood (6N) vs. VMI (2N)
6 p.m. – Campbell (3N) vs. Gardner-Webb (2S)
8 p.m. – Liberty (5N) vs. High Point (1N)

Missouri Valley Conference Tournament
7 p.m. – Drake (9) vs. Bradley (8)
9:30 p.m. – Southern Illinois (10) vs. Missouri State (7)

Ohio Valley Conference First Round
7 p.m. – Morehead State (5) vs. Tennessee State (4)
9 p.m. – Southeast Missouri State (6) vs. Eastern Kentucky (3)

West Coast Conference First Round
9 p.m. – Loyola Marymount (9) vs. San Francisco (5)
11:30 p.m. – Pepperdine (7) vs. San Diego (6)

You can find Troy Machir on Twitter at @TroyMachir