SARNIA, Ont. — It’s time for conference tournaments across the country, and the 2018 NCAA Tournament field is slowly taking shape.
At the end of the day on Sunday, five teams have already secured their spots in the field of 68. The Murray State Racers, Lipscomb Bisons, Michigan Wolverines, Loyola (IL) Ramblers, and Radford Highlanders have all secured themselves a spot in the Big Dance. Over the next seven days, the rest of the automatic bids will be secured.
With the season in the home stretch before March Madness, it also signals award season. Conferences have handed out their annual awards, and the race for the national awards heated up down the stretch.
The end of the season also signaled the start of the College Court Report Player of the Year Fan Vote. For the second year in a row, we selected 96 of the best players from outside of the power conferences and put them into a bracket-style field to select our Player of the Year. Fans vote for their favourites each week until there is just one left standing.
Over the past seven days, over 9,800 votes were cast in the First Round for 64 of the nation’s top players. Thirty-two players advanced to the Round of 64, and will each square off with a player who received a First Round Bye in the field.
Here are some of the highlights from Round One:
Junior guard Joe Rosga was the top vote-getter in Round One, amassing over 2,000 votes across both Facebook and the online polls. The Denver Pioneers’ star was matched up against fellow Summit League guard Matt Mooney in the opening round, and moved past the South Dakota Coyotes star and onto the Round of 64.
Back in 2015-16, Rosga advanced to the Elite Eight in the Freshman of the Year Fan Vote, falling just short of the Final Four.
Denzel Mahoney and B.J. Johnson were deadlocked after the online polls, but Mahoney advanced to the Round of 64 thanks to a single interaction on his Facebook photo. The sophomore for the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks advanced in the Paul Silas Region, which is the same quadrant as Rosga.
Towards the top of the bracket, we saw another pair of top candidates emerge after the First Round.
For the last two years, the North Dakota Fighting Hawks have held claim to the Player of the Year award, as Quinton Hooker graduated as a two-time Player of the Year. This year, Geno Crandall is looking to keep the title in Grand Forks, ND.
Crandall accumulated the third-most votes on Facebook this week, which propelled him to the third-highest votes total across the board. He eliminated CJ Massinburg from the field in the process.
Marlain Veal, Jordan Barnes, Clayton Custer, and Roddy Peters all emerged as top candidates to come out of the John Stockton Region after impressive levels of fan support in the First Round.
Voting in the Round of 64 begins Monday morning at 12:01am EST. Vote here!
– T. Bennett
Check out the updated brackets for each region: