The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders were heavy favorites to take home the automatic bid at the 2013 Sun Belt Conference Tournament, but now they will have to hope their at-large résumé is good enough. Fourth-seeded Florida International took down MTSU in the semifinals on Sunday, setting up a championship game matchup with Western Kentucky that few expected.
The Blue Raiders had lost just once in conference play prior to Sunday's result. Middle Tennessee beat FIU in two previous meeting this season. The Golden Panthers' most impressive win on the year before topping the conference's best was likely over Arkansas State on the road.
MTSU wasn't the only top seed to fall in the semis, as No. 2 Arkansas State was taken down by No. 6 Western Kentucky by way of game-winning layup from Hilltoppers guard T.J. Price. The win was the third in as many days for WKU. They defeated No. 11 UL-Monroe on Friday before upsetting No. 3 South Alabama on Saturday.
The Sun Belt championship is familiar territory for Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers have taken home the title a league-best eight times, and have finished as the runner-up another four. This year's trip is likely one of the most surprising in school history. Arkansas State had defeated WKU by an average of 16 points in their previous two meetings.
Western Kentucky and Florida International will face off on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET Monday night in Hot Springs, Ark. The two teams split the regular season, with each winning at home.
The full bracket can be found at the Sun Belt's official site.