IRVING, Texas – Regular season champion Memphis will be the No. 1 seed at the 2009 Conference USA Men's Basketball Championship, March 11-14 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tenn. The Tigers, ranked No. 3 in the country, enter the conference tournament as the No.1 seed for the fourth year in a row, owning a record of 28-3 and the nation’s longest winning streak at 22 games.
As the top seed, Memphis will have a first-round bye at the tournament. Other teams receiving first-round byes include No. 2 Tulsa, No. 3 UAB and No. 4 UTEP. Wednesday's first-round match-ups feature: No. 7 Marshall vs. No. 10 Rice at Noon, No. 6 UCF vs. No. 11 Southern Miss at 2:30 p.m., No. 8 Tulane vs. No. 9 East Carolina at 6 p.m., and No. 5 Houston vs. No. 12 SMU at 8:30 p.m. CT.
In Thursday's quarterfinal round, No. 2 Tulsa will take on the winner of the Marshall-Rice game at Noon and No. 3 UAB will face the winner of the UCF-Southern Miss match-up beginning at 2:30 p.m. No. 1 seed Memphis will battle either Tulane or East Carolina at 6 p.m., while No. 4 seed UTEP will close out Thursday night against the winner of the Houston-SMU contest at 8:30 p.m.
The tournament will get underway on Wednesday when Marshall squares off with Rice at Noon. The Thundering Herd is led by senior guard Markel Humphrey, who is the only player in Marshall history to rank in the top 20 in scoring, rebounding and assists. Rice senior guard Rodney Foster is the team’s leading scorer and also ranks among the nation’s top free throw shooters. Marshall took the regular season meeting between the teams, 76-62, last Wednesday in Huntington, W. Va.
UCF and Southern Miss meet in the second game on Wednesday. The Knights are led by senior guard Jermaine Taylor, the conference’s leading scorer at 26.3 per game (third in the nation). He has established a Conference USA single-season record for points scored in league games and moved up to fourth on the league’s career scoring chart. The Golden Eagles feature guards Jeremy Wise, and Courtney Beasley, both of whom average more than 15 points per game. UCF won the only regular season meeting between the clubs, 73-61 in Orlando on Jan. 21.
Tulane and East Carolina will square off in the 8-9 game at 6 p.m. Wednesday. This will mark the third time in four years that the Green Wave will play in the 8-9 game. Junior G Kevin Sims is Tulane’s leading scorer and leading assist man for the third year in a row. ECU sophomore guard Brock Young ranks second in the nation in assists per game and is closing in on the C-USA regular season record for assists. The two squads split their regular season meetings, with each team winning on its home floor.
The final game on Wednesday is Houston against SMU at 8:30 p.m. CT. This will be a rematch of Saturday night’s contest, won by the Cougars, 89-77. Houston swept the regular season series and carries a seven-game winning streak against the Mustangs that dates back to Dec. 17, 2000. The Cougars are led by junior guard Aubrey Coleman, who ranks among the C-USA leaders in scoring. SMU is led by senior F Bamba Fall, who ranks second in the league in blocked shots and sixth in rebounding. The Mustangs will look to become the first No. 12 seed to win a C-USA tournament game since Southern Miss in 2003.
Memphis has won each of the last three tournaments and is 12-1 in its last 13 C-USA Championship games. The Tigers have won 58 consecutive games against Conference USA opponents (regular season and tournament). Tulsa is the No. 2 seed and the Golden Hurricane have won 20 or more games for the third consecutive season. UAB is the No. 3 seed and has topped the 20-win mark for the sixth time in seven seasons. UTEP earned an opening round bye for the first time in four years and needs one more victory for its first 20-win season since 2005-06.
All games will be played at FedExForum, the state-of-the-art arena in downtown Memphis, Tenn. Quarterfinal games will be shown on CSS, while CBS College Sports will televise the semifinals. CBS will broadcast the championship game, beginning at 10:35 a.m. (CDT). For ticket information, please visit ConferenceUSA.com, contact your local Conference USA school's ticket office, the FedExForum box office or Ticketmaster.
2009 C-USA Championship
FedExForum, Memphis, Tenn.
Wednesday, March 7
(7) Marshall vs. (10) Rice Noon
(6) UCF vs. (11) Southern Miss 2:30p
(8) Tulane vs. (9) East Carolina 6:00p
(5) Houston vs. (12) SMU 8:30p
Thursday, March 8
(2) Tulsa vs. Marshall/Rice (CSS) Noon
(3) UAB vs. UCF/Southern Miss (CSS) 2:30p
(1) Memphis vs. Tulane/East Carolina (CSS) 6:00p
(4) UTEP vs. Houston/SMU (CSS) 8:30p
Friday, March 9
*Semifinal # 1 (CBS College Sports) 3:00p
*Semifinal # 2 (CBS College Sports) 5:30p
Saturday, March 10
Championship (CBS) 10:35a
*highest remaining seed entering the semifinals will play at 3:00 p.m.
All Times Central