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Conference tournament reset: Towson, UMBC, Morgan State, Coppin State shoot for NCAA berth

March Madness has yielded mainly sadness for local men’s basketball teams. On Wednesday, second-seeded Mount St. Mary’s lost in Emmitsburg to No. 7 seed Robert Morris in the Northeast Conference tournament. On Thursday, three more teams fell: No. 8 seed Maryland (Big Ten Conference), No. 3 seed Navy (Patriot League) and No. 8 seed Loyola Maryland (Patriot League).

UMBC might be the area’s best hope for an NCAA tournament team, but even the second-seeded Retrievers have an awfully tough reigning league champion to knock off. With conference tournaments picking back up over the weekend, here’s what you need to know about the few teams still standing.

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Next game: No. 4 seed William & Mary (18-11, 11-7) vs. No. 5 Towson (18-13, 8-10), quarterfinal

When: Sunday, 2:30 p.m.

Where: North Charleston, S.C.

Video: CAA.TV

Background: College of Charleston and the Tigers were the preseason picks to finish first and second, respectively, in the CAA. Only one of them actually did. But despite a disappointing record in league play, Towson swept its regular-season series against the Tribe and won at home against the top-seeded Cougars. With two upsets at North Charleston Coliseum, the Tigers would make their first appearance in the CAA final. The only other conference member yet to appear in a championship game is Elon, which joined the league in 2014.

Next game: No. 2 seed UMBC (21-10, 12-4) vs. No. 7 Massachusetts Lowell (12-17, 6-10), quarterfinal

When: Saturday, 1 p.m.

Where: UMBC Event Center

Video: WatchESPN

Background: Last season, the Retrievers played 34 games and won 21, second most in program history. They’ve needed only 31 regular-season games to match that total this year. But for all of coach Ryan Odom’s overnight success with the program, one hard truth remains. While the Retrievers went 6-2 against lower-seeded teams in the America East this season, they were swept by top-seeded Vermont, losing by an average of 21.5 points per game. Should UMBC reach the conference final, the defending champion Catamounts might be even better off. Anthony Lamb, last season’s AEC Rookie of the Year, is back from injury.

Next game: No. 7 seed Morgan State (11-18, 7-9) vs. No. 10 South Carolina State (10-21, 6-10), first round

When: Tuesday, 9 p.m.

Where: Norfolk, Va.

Video: WatchESPN

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Background: Maybe the only comfort the Bears can take from their regular-season finale is that they played their worst basketball in a game they didn’t need to win. The league’s preseason favorite, Morgan trailed by double digits for much of the second half of its defeat Thursday at Delaware State, the MEAC’s worst team and, according to kenpom.com, the second-worst team in the country. The Bears lost at home to South Carolina State in their lone meeting this season, but if they can win, they’d advance to face second-seeded Bethune-Cookman, which they took to double overtime two weeks ago.

Next game: No. 6 seed North Carolina Central (15-15, 9-7) vs. No. 11 Coppin State (5-26, 5-11), first round

When: Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Norfolk, Va.

Video: WatchESPN

Background: The Eagles are stuck in the third act of their season, and it’s not an altogether inspiring performance. Under first-year coach Juan Dixon, Coppin lost its first 17 games. Then it won five of nine conference matchups, at one point reaching .500 in MEAC play. On Thursday against Howard, the Eagles ended the regular season with their fifth straight loss. Little is encouraging about their tournament draw, either: Coppin lost by 20 to North Carolina Central and by nine to Savannah State, the No. 3 seed waiting in the quarterfinals.

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