The NCAA season has reached it first round of the postseason. With the regular season now in the books, we are in the heart of the conference tournaments. Come Wednesday, March 8th, a good majority of the conferences will have started their respective tournaments. Several tickets have already have been punched, with more to come each and every day in the coming week.
One of the tournaments that will be tipping off for the first time on Wednesday will be the Conference USA Conference Tournament. Here at INSC we have you covered, with predictions down below. This tourney will conclude on Sunday, March 12th.
You can check out the seedings and a link to the bracket below.
(1) Middle Tennessee
(2) Louisianna Tech
(3) Old Dominion
(8) Western Kentucky
(9) UT-San Antonio
(11) Florida Atlantic
(12) Southern Miss
Conference USA will pit 12 teams against one another, with one bid into the NCAA Tournament on the line. Before we can get into the quarterfinals, we need to run through four first round matchups. Those games include Western Kentucky-UTSA, Rice-Southern Miss, UAB-Charlotte and Marshall-Florida Atlantic. I am predicting UTSA 69-68, Rice 83-64, UAB 79-72 and Marshall 81-76.
To open the quarterfinals, we will see Middle Tennesee take on UTSA. Now I do not think UTSA is all that bad. But the problem for them is Middle Tennessee State is just really damn good. There is a reason they are a popular pick to be a double digit seed that could do some damage in the Big Dance. They come out on top here 72-61 and move to the semis.
Next up, UTEP will get Rice. Unfortunately for UTEP, Rice is coming to play. The team that had the bye will come into their opening game taking their opponents too lightly. So it will be Rice with the upset to move on here to get the top-seeded club in the next round. Give me Rice 79-66.
The bottom half of the bracket sees Louisianna Tech facing UAB. Overall, you will see some pretty similar numbers across the board here. So this is going to be far from a run out for Louisiana Tech. The favorites will be in this game all day, but they will simply not be able to pull away. They will be able to do enough to scrap together a win however. Give me La Tech 74-70.
Finally, we end the quarterfinals with a game between Old Dominion and Marshall. This one will be fairly interested, mainly because of Old Dominion. As for Old Dominion, they are tremendous at creating their possessions but are not all that good at scoring. So will this be enough to hold them back from winning here? No. Old Dominion will be able to pull through, 78-77.
Our first semifinals game will see the favorites, Middle Tennessee, take on Rice. Now as I have said already, I do like this Rice team. They will give Middle Tennessee a good run for their money. But when the game is over, it will be just that, just a run. This will serve as a test for Middle Tennessee as they prepare for the Big Dance. They will barely pass that test, winning 72-71.
The bottom portion of the quarterfinals will see La Tech go head to head with Old Dominion. Louisianna Tech has a very respectable team. They are likely set to be a 15 or 16 seed if they can emerge here. Old Dominion will certainly do everything in their power to claw to a win, but they will fall just short. Give me LA Tech, 70-67.
That means our championship game will have Middle Tennessee going up against the likes of Louisiana Tech. Middle Tennessee will be given a run for their money. They need to win this if they want to secure their chance at being Cinderella in late March. They will do just that, as they take down LA Tech by the score of 72-68 to help seal their spot as Conference USA’s top goal-tender.
So what do you think? Who will emerge with a NCAA Tournament bid? Will it be an upset, or will the top seed claim their auto bid? Tell us in the comments!