The 2013 Sun Belt tournament finished its semifinal round on Sunday, and there was no shortage of drama. No. 1 seed and heavy favorite Middle Tennessee fell to Florida International in the semifinals. Meanwhile, No. 2 seed Arkansas State also dropped a close game to No. 6 Western Kentucky. The championship game is now set for Monday.
Let's recap the action:
No. 4 Florida International Panthers 61, Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders 57
The Panthers controlled this game from start to finish, catching the Blue Raiders flat-footed and racing out to a 33-24 halftime lead. Middle Tennessee struggled to find any kind of rhythm, shooting just 3-of-15 three-pointers and making only 57.1 percent of their free throws. Deric Hill led FIU with 16 points, while Cameron Bell came off the bench to score 15.
The Blue Raiders' loss will have a big ripple effect in the bubble watch. Considered the heavy favorites to take the Sun Belt's automatic bid, their fate now lies in the Selection Committee. Middle Tennessee looks good on paper, with a No. 24 RPI and No. 28 KenPom rating, but they have zero top 50 wins and are 2-3 against top 100 teams. They look like a true "toss-up" choice heading into Selection Sunday.
No. 6 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 58, No. 2 Arkansas State Red Wolves 56
T.J. Price scored 24 points and Brandon Harris added 11 to put the Hilltoppers in the conference finals for the second year in a row. It was a rough shooting night for both teams, with Western Kentucky only making 34.6 percent from the field and Arkansas State shooting 36.7 percent. As with most close games, this one came down to free throws -- WKU made 18-of-24, while Arkansas State only managed 14-of-25.
Western Kentucky will get the chance to defend its title Monday, when it takes on FIU at 7:00 PM ET on ESPN. Check out the complete bracket here.