C-USA Tournament field sets up favorably for USM

Posted by PATRICK MAGEE on March 11, 2013 

The Southern Miss basketball team travels to Tulsa this week for the Conference USA Tournament hoping it can lock down an NCAA Tournament bid with a championship.

It's a tough road ahead for USM, but it appears to be on the good side of the bracket.

The Golden Eagles will take on the winner of UAB-SMU at noon on Thursday in their first tournament game. USM beat both of those teams on the road this season and swept UAB.

If USM advances, it will take on one of three teams - Houston, Rice and UTEP. The Miners are the No. 3 seed and have a first-round bye. Against those three teams, USM is 3-0 this year with convincing victories.

So, if you do the math, USM is 6-0 against the five other teams on its side of the bracket.

USM also doesn't have to take on No. 1 Memphis or the host team, Tulsa, until it reaches the tournament title game. If you can avoid the top seed and the home team until the championship contest, you're typically in good shape.

Memphis, which plays the winner of Tulane-Marshall on Thursday, may have the tougher path to the championship game. The other quarterfinal game matches No. 4 East Carolina and No. 5 Tulsa with the winner almost certanily taking on the Tigers in the semifinals.

ECU is as capable of beating Memphis as any other team in the league while Tulsa will have the home crowd on its side.

The field is set, and it's up to USM to take advantage of it.

While USM is considered on the bubble by some, a C-USA Tournament title is likely the only way USM reaches the field of 68.

C-USA Tournament schedule:

BOK Center, Tulsa, Okla.

Wednesday

(7) UAB vs. (10) SMU (C-USADN) 3:30p

(6) Houston vs. (11) Rice (C-USADN) 6:00p

(8) Tulane vs. (9) Marshall (C-USADN) 8:30p

Thursday

(2) Southern Miss vs. UAB/SMU (CBS Sports Network) 12:00p

(3) UTEP vs. HOU/RICE (CBS Sports Network) 2:30p

(1) Memphis vs. TLN/MAR (CBS Sports Network) 6:00p

(4) East Carolina vs. (5) Tulsa (CBS Sports Network) 8:30p

Friday

Semifinal # 1 (CBS Sports Network) 3:00p

Semifinal # 2 (CBS Sports Network) 5:30p

Saturday

Championship Game (CBS) 10:35a

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