The co-regular season champs are evenly matched - splitting their two games - and both looked dominant in their semifinal wins, but more fans, familiar rims, and the ability to sleep in their own bed is enough of a difference for the Quakers to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 11 years.
"I would say, 'I'm sorry, ' but I'm not", said smiling senior Rusty Reigel, who was a freshman the last time Davidson participated in March Madness.
"Ball game! We dancin' baby!" It marked the program's first conference tournament title and capped off quite the run for Davidson, a team that was good this year but still needed to win its conference to make it in.
The veteran big man is in the midst of a MVP-caliber season, averaging 28.1 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.3 blocks and 1.5 steals over 36.5 minutes per game.
"Your heart kind of drops for a second", Grady said.
URI was behind for most of the second half but surged to the lead. "But we did another unbelievable job". "I was freaking out a little bit".
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Adding a further wrinkle to the Atlantic 10 result, Rhode Island head coach Dan Hurley is the brother of Arizona State boss, Bobby. The Wildcats responded with four straight points, grabbing a one-point edge on Kellan Grady's floater with 1:14 left.
Cincinnati earned the AAC's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament with its first conference tournament championship since it won the Conference USA crown in 2004.
Davidson is the 54th ranked team in numberFire's NCAAB power rankings this season.
Earlier today, a massive bubble game took place, as Davidson knocked off Rhode Island in their conference championship game. Defensively, Rhode Island yields 68.2 points per game against the opposing teams.
Davidson: Waiting to see what the rest of Selection Sunday held in store.