The 2018 Conference USA Basketball Tournament guarantees to be an entertaining few days of basketball with a lot at stake in Frisco, Texas at The Ford Center at The Star with an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament on the line.
The past three winners of the C-USA Tournament have gone on to win a game in the NCAA Tournament with UAB winning in 2015 and Middle Tennessee winning in 2016 and 2017. And with the amount of talent this tournament will see, expect the winner to emerge as a legitimate threat in the NCAA Tournament.
The four first-round matchups will begin Wednesday with the winners advancing to the quarterfinal round to face one of four teams that earned a first-round bye. With that being said, let’s take a look at what fans can expect from the 2018 C-USA Tournament.
Teams receiving a first-round bye
1. Middle Tennessee (24-6, 16-2)
2. Old Dominion (24-6, 15-3)
3. Western Kentucky (22-9, 14-4)
4. Marshall (21-10, 12-6)
(8) Florida International vs. (9) Southern Miss
March 7, 2018
7 p.m. ET
The 2018 C-USA Tournament will tip off with a couple teams having resurgent seasons after very disappointing 2016-17 seasons. The 8th-seeded FIU Panthers will take on the 9th-seeded Southern Miss Golden Eagles with both teams having improved from last season.
FIU comes into this game with a 14-17 overall record and 8-10 record in C-USA play after failing to qualify for the 2017 C-USA Tournament while finishing just 7-24 overall and 3-15 in C-USA play. Southern Miss also improved on its past season by finishing 14-17 overall and 7-11 in C-USA play, outdoing its past season’s record of 9-22 and 6-12 in C-USA play.
This should be an interesting game between two teams trending in the right direction after disappointing seasons as of late. The winner will advance to the quarterfinal round to battle top-seeded Middle Tennessee Thursday at 7 p.m. ET and the game will be aired by Stadium.
(5) UTSA vs. (12) UTEP
March 7, 2018
7:30 p.m. ET
One of the biggest surprises of the 2017-18 C-USA basketball season was the emergence of the UTSA Roadrunners, who occupy the 5th-seed in the C-USA Tournament and will face the 12th-seeded UTEP Miners. UTSA improved from its 2016-17 season and was in contention for a first-round bye up until the final game of the regular season before narrowly missing out.
The Roadrunners bring an 18-13 overall record and 11-7 mark in C-USA play into Wednesday’s game having improved from a 14-19 record last season and 8-10 record in C-USA play. The Miners had a down season by finishing 11-19 overall and 6-12 in C-USA play after earning a 12-6 mark in league play last season.
UTSA is without its leading scorer Jhivvan Jackson who’s out with a season-ending injury, but the Roadrunners still have enough of a supporting cast to put up a fight against a UTEP team that has underachieved this season. The winner will advance to the quarterfinal round to battle 4th-seeded Marshall Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET and the game will be aired on Facebook.
(7) North Texas vs. (10) Louisiana Tech
March 7, 2018
9:30 p.m. ET
Two of the more confusing teams in C-USA basketball this season will square off Wednesday night when the 7th-seeded North Texas Mean Green face off with the 10th-seeded LA Tech Bulldogs. Both teams have seen highs and lows this season and have struggled to find consistency throughout the season.
The Mean Green finished the season with at 15-16 overall and 8-10 in C-USA play after going just 8-22 and 2-16 in C-USA last season, but lost six of its last seven games. LA Tech came into this season voted as the preseason third best team in C-USA, but sit at 16-15 overall and 7-11 in C-USA play having lost four straight to end the season.
If either North Texas or LA Tech find consistency in the C-USA Tournament, both teams could be a tough out. The winner of this game will advance to face the 2nd-seeded Old Dominion Monarchs in the quarterfinal round at 9:30 p.m. ET Thursday and the game will be aired by Stadium.
(6) UAB vs. (11) Florida Atlantic
March 7, 2018
10 p.m. ET
The 6th-seeded Blazers of UAB have found the ultimate success in the C-USA Tournament in the past, and this year they will take on the 11th-seeded FAU Owls Wednesday night. The Blazers have had an up and down season, but seem to be trending upward at the perfect time.
UAB comes into this game with a 19-12 record and 10-8 record in C-USA play and won its final two games of the season against Marshall and Western Kentucky by blowout margins. FAU heads into this game with a 12-18 record and 6-12 record in C-USA play, but lost its final two games of the season on the road at ODU and at Charlotte.
The Blazers seem to have the edge in this game, but the Owls have shown they can compete with some of the better teams in C-USA this season and can’t be taken lightly. The team that emerges victorious will advance to the quarterfinal round to battle the 3rd-seeded Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Thursday at 10 p.m. ET and the game will be aired on Facebook.