There's a lot at stake in the Conference USA tournament.
Of the teams in C-USA, only Memphis appears to be a lock for the NCAA Tournament. Southern Miss stands a chance of earning an at-large bid, but that's something that could very well change if the Golden Eagles fall short in the conference tournament. Every other team in the tourney will be looking to win the whole thing to earn a bid to go to the Big Dance.
So despite the fact C-USA is a little lower on the college basketball totem pole, you can expect these tourney games to be hotly contested. It should be fun.
If you're looking to watch, here's a rundown of everything you need to know.
Bracket, Dates, Start Time and TV Schedule
All of this comes courtesy of Conference USA's official website, so I'm assuming it's all 100 percent accurate. All times are Eastern, and all games will be played at FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee.
|First||1||Wednesday, March 7||Rice (7) vs. East Carolina (10)||1:00 p.m.||CSS, online via C-USA Digital Network|
|First||2||Wednesday, March 7||Marshall (6) vs. SMU (11)||3:30 p.m.||CSS, online via C-USA Digital Network|
|First||3||Wednesday, March 7||UTEP (8) vs. Houston (9)||7:30 p.m.||CSS, online via C-USA Digital Network|
|First||4||Wednesday, March 7||UAB (5) vs. Tulane (12)||10:00 p.m.||CSS, online via C-USA Digital Network|
|Second||1||Thursday, March 8||Southern Miss (2) vs. Rice/ECU||1:00 p.m.||CBS Sports Network|
|Second||2||Thursday, March 8||Tulsa (3) vs. Marshall/SMU||3:30 p.m.||CBS Sports Network|
|Second||3||Thursday, March 8||Memphis (1) vs. UTEP/Houston||7:30 p.m.||CBS Sports Network|
|Second||4||Thursday, March 8||UCF (4) vs. UAB/Tulane||10:00 p.m.||CBS Sports Network|
|Semifinal||1||Friday, March 9||C-USA Semifinal 1||4:00 p.m.||CBS Sports Network|
|Semifinal||2||Friday, March 9||C-USA Semifinal 2||6:30 p.m.||CBS Sports Network|
|Final||1||Saturday, March 10||Championship Game||11:35 a.m.||CBS|
What They're Saying
Steve Irvine of The Birmingham News wondered aloud if there's any reason to believe Memphis won't win the C-USA tournament. However, he did admit that Memphis is not perfect.
Here's what Irvine wrote:
So is there any reason to believe that the Tigers won't cruise through the field in what was known in the past as the "Memphis Invitational"?
At this point, it's hard to imagine anyone knocking off the regular season champion Tigers unless you look at the whole picture. After all, this is the same Memphis team that was 6-5 after a Dec. 22 loss at Georgetown.
Memphis has won the C-USA tournament five of the past six years. This year's team definitely looks like the strongest team in the field once again.
Teams With Most to Gain: UCF, Tulsa
Obviously, every team in the Conference-USA tournament stands to gain quite a bit by winning the whole thing, so I could mention every team in the field here.
But specifically, I have to go with UCF and Tulsa here. Both teams finished the season with mediocre stretches of play, all but taking themselves out of tournament consideration. They're heading into the conference tourney with nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Winning it all is the easiest way into the tournament, but it's conceivable that either UCF or Tulsa will be able to grab an at-large bid after their work in the conference tournament.
Team With Most to Lose: Southern Miss
Southern Miss didn't do itself any favors with its loss at Marshall in the regular season finale for both teams. The Golden Eagles need a good showing in the C-USA tournament to redeem themselves, and the only way they're going to be a lock for the tournament is if they win the conference tourney.
A loss in the second round of the conference tournament would be devastating. It's hard to imagine Southern Miss getting in after a loss to Rice or ECU.
This tournament is the Tigers' to lose. They were the most dominant team in C-USA this season, and they represent a matchup problem for every team in the field. Their offensive efficiency is uncanny.
Plus, having the home-court advantage will definitely help.