The C-USA Tourney begins today featuring 13 schools fighting for their league's lone tourney berth.
Revised All-Conference Selections:
Best Call(s): If these count as best calls - picking UAB, Middle Tennessee, and La Tech in the top 5 of the league. I still maintain ODU is one of the, if not the, best team in the conference, but tie-breakers pushed the Monarchs down to the 5-seed. Southern Miss sucked, but then again everyone already knew that. Had I written my preview after the UTEP injuries (Harris and Willms), the Miners would have been knocked down a few notches. I feel good about my pre-season all-conference picks as well; Freeman was the best player in the league and Hamilton and Upshaw did not disappoint. Chris Cokley had a fantastic year, I overlooked him initially.
Worst Call(s): My sincerest apologies to the Marshall Thundering Herd, who I named the Tip-Toeing Herd in my preview this summer. The Miami transfer, James Kelly, turned out to be a bona-fide stud while Ryan Taylor also had a great year pushing the Herd to an unexpected third place finish. I also thought Rice would be a lot better than they were with Guercy and Jackson and newcomer Marcus Evans, but the loss of Jackson proved too much for the Owls to get over.
Who I want to win: There's a few teams I wouldn't mind seeing in the Dance from C-USA. I love Middle Tennessee, particularly the play of Giddy Potts and Reggie Upshaw. UAB is probably the strongest of all team in the conference so their inclusion in the Tourney strengthens the field. And finally, I like Old Dominion as well with POY Trey Freeman; they, like UAB, have a good shot at making waves in the Tourney.
Who I think will win: I think Old Dominion gets it done. While they don't have the comfort of a double bye, I think they're right up there with UAB as the best team in the conference. They should cruise by the winner of FAU / UTSA and then get past La Tech setting them up for a potential show-down with the defending champs. It's a long road, but the Monarchs have the chops to win.
Chance to make a run: UAB is the favorite to win the C-USA Tourney and for good reason. They bring back an experienced team and have the toughest starting five in the conference. I also can see MTSU making a little run for the ship. In the NCAA Tournament, the top 5 teams in this league, except for Marshall, have legitimate shots at bringing down a higher seed (see UAB vs. Iowa State last year). As C-USA has had a down year, the ceiling seed for the champ is probably a 13 (which would be UAB), but more likely than not the winner is going to earn a 14 like UAB did last year. That's a dangerous 14-seed.
How it plays out:
(12) Florida Atlantic defeats (13) UTSA
(8) Western Kentucky defeats (9) North Texas
(5) Old Dominion defeats (12) Florida Atlantic
(10) Rice defeats (7) Charlotte
(11) Florida International defeats (6) UTEP
(8) Western Kentucky defeats (1) UAB
(5) Old Dominion defeats (4) Louisiana Tech
(2) Middle Tennessee defats (10) Rice
(3) Marshall defeats (11) Florida International
(5) Old Dominion defeats (8) Western Kentucky
(2) Middle Tennessee defats (3) Marshall
(5) Old Dominion defeats (2) Middle Tennessee
Old dominion earns a 14-seed in the Tournament and plays a close game in the first round before eventually falling to the superior 3-seed.