Conference USA Tournament Preview with Current Odds to Win
The 2011 Conference USA Tournament will take place in El Paso, TX from March 9-12. Last years winner, Houston (12-16, 4-11), hasn't had things go quite right this year. Same goes for Memphis (21-9, 9-6) who won the tournament four years in a row before Houston. It appears that a new team will get a chance for glory in Conference USA this year.
The hometown team, UTEP (22-8, 10-5), has to be considered one of the top choices. They were having some problems when losing to Southern Miss, UCF and ECU in the span of four games, but seem to have righted the ship with decisive wins over Memphis and Marshall. Senior G Randy Culpepper (19.6 PPG, 2.9 AGP, 3.1 RPG) leads the team in scoring. He dropped 31 on Sam Houston, 29 on Tulsa and 33 on Houston. It will be interesting if they get a rematch against ECU. The first and only time they played this season HC Tim Floyd received 2 technical fouls and was ejected.
UAB (21-7, 11-4) has played great all year long. The Blazer have wins over Arkansas, Kent State and UTEP. They split with Southern Miss. Senior G Jamarr Sanders (17.9 PPG, 4.4 RPG) leads the team in scoring. He had a clutch performance against Southern Miss where he scored 18 points to help his team get the 67-66 road win. Junior F Cameron Moore (14.9 PPG, 9.6) is equally important to the Blazers. The 6-10 big man is a force in the paint and will be a tough match up for any team that UAB plays.
Tulsa (17-12, 10-5) had a very rock start to their season, but has excelled in conference place. The Golden Hurricane has wins over UAB and UTEP. Senior G Justin Hurtt (20.1 PPG, 3.9 RPG) is a prolific scorer that can light opponents up. He dropped 30 on Wichita State in a close loss. He will have to be on his toes as Tulsa is only dancing if they can win this thing.
The Golden Eagles of Southern Miss (21-8, 9-6) have great play down low thanks to F Gary Flowers (19.2 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 1.6 BPG). The 6-9 big fella has 8 double-doubles this year and has to be considered for C-USA Player of the Year honors. He is a complete player that can hit three pointers and he makes his free throws. Southern Miss has lost a couple games down the stretch, but when Flowers and company play well they are tough to stop.
Two interesting cases for this tournament are the Memphis Tigers (21-9, 9-6) and the UCF Knights (19-9, 6-9). The latter started the year with big wins over Florida and Miami while winning their first 14 games. They somehow lost 8 in a row in conference play. Things look to be going well now, but they have questions to answer in the C-USA Tournament. Memphis is a young team that has flashed brilliance, but its hard to overlook a last season 74-47 loss to UTEP.
Here are the Current Odds to win the CUSA Tournament
So Miss 6/1
East Carolina 15/1