Favorite(s)-Memphis (27-4 16-0)
The Tigers have once again rolled to a Conference USA title. The question is, is Memphis’ dominance more a statement on the Tigers’ talent or the mediocrity of the rest of the conference? The up-and-down Tigers (both in tempo and level of play) have had scares like beating Marshall by one and glimpses of dominance like beating second-place Southern Miss by 16. The problem for the Tigers has been turnovers, while they average almost 17 assists a game they also turn it over at a clip of 15 a contest.
Contender(s)-Southern Mississippi (23-8 12-4)
The Golden Eagles have quietly won 23 games, but a closer look would reveal that aside from an overtime win over Georgia there isn’t a lot of meat on the bones as they say. Southern Miss’s best win in the non-conference is probably a four-point win over UC-Irvine. Even still the Eagles are the second best team in C-USA and are the only team likely to challenge Memphis for the tournament title.
Team Likely to pull an Upset-Marshall (13-18 6-10)
The Thundering Herd had a wildly underachieving season finishing 13-18, but that can all be wiped away in March. A team that is athletic as Marshall with guards DeAndre Kane and D.D. Scarver and big bodies Elijah Pittman and Dennis Tinnon the herd have some intriguing pieces.
3 Key Players-Joe Jackson-Memphis, John Bohannon-UTEP, DeAndre Kane-Marshall
Memphis won another Conference USA title and Jackson was a huge reason why. The junior Memphis native led the team in scoring (13.8) and assists (4.9) but the reason he is a key for the Tigers is because for them to be successful he must stop turning the ball over. He only averages 2.8 turnovers a game but he has also had games with 5, 6, 7 even 8 giveaways.
As Houston proved not too long ago, the C-USA tournament can be as unpredictable as any in the country. The UTEP miners have the 3 seed in the tournament and for them to break through against Memphis or Southern Mississippi it will have to be on the back of junior center John Bohannon. Averaging 10.8 points and 6.4 rebounds, he had 21 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks in an upset of Oregon.
Marshall underachieved this season, but it is March and crazy things can happen. Junior forward DeAndre Kane is the type of player who can take over a game and carry his team to a win. He nets 14.9 points a game and grabs 4.6 rebounds and dishes out 7.2 assists a game, and in a 3 OT loss to Hofstra registered one of the few triple doubles in the country with 33 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
2013 CONFERENCE USA TOURNAMENT
March 13-16 Tulsa, OK
#5 vs. #12
#7 UAB vs. #10 SMU
#6 Houston vs. #11 Rice
#8 Tulane vs. #9 Marshall
#1 Memphis vs. #8/9
#2 Southern Mississippi vs. #7/10
#3 UTEP vs. #6/11
#4 East Carolina vs. #5 Tulsa