Basketball

C-USA Tournament Set, Herd Men vs. Florida Atlantic, 9 p.m. Wednesday

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IRVING, Texas – After earning its first Conference USA regular-season conference championship, Middle Tennessee will be the No. 1 seed at the 2017 C-USA Men’s Basketball Championship presented by MetroPCS, March 8-11 in Birmingham, Alabama. The Blue Raiders won the regular season C-USA title with a conference record of 17-1, setting a new record for league wins in a season, and are one win from tying the school record with a 27-4 mark.

Currently, only Gonzaga, Kansas, Villanova and Wichita State have more victories than the Blue Raiders. As the top seed, Middle Tennessee will have a first-round bye in the championship and the Blue Raiders will be attempting to become just the second school in league history to repeat as tournament champions.

Other teams receiving first-round byes include No. 2 seed Louisiana Tech, No. 3 Old Dominion and No. 4 UTEP. Louisiana Tech is the only school to earn a first-round bye in each of the last four years and the Bulldogs have now won 22 games or more for the last five seasons.  Old Dominion won three games by double-digits last season to reach its first final before falling to Middle Tennessee, 55-53.  UTEP enters the championship having won 12 of its last 15 games.

MUBSKB 2016-17 Game 931 3-4-2017 Beat NTex 106-104, Terrence Thompson flexs after fouled on score

Terrence Thompson and Thundering Herd teammates ready to get to it on Wed. night at 9 p.m. when Marshall meets No. 11 seeded Florida Atlantic in game one of what Herd fans hope will be four games in Birmingham, Ala. for MU. (Herd Insider picture by Greg Perry)

The game Thundering Herd fans are looking forward to is the last game on Wednesday, pitting No. 11 Florida Atlantic vs. No. 6 Marshall at 8 p.m. CT (9 p.m. EST in Huntington, and heard on the Thundering Herd/IMG Sports Network on flagship stations ESPN Huntington 94.1 FM and AM 930 and The Dawg 93.7 FM.  The Thundering Herd began the New Year with an 89-72 victory over the Owls in Boca Raton on Jan. 2.

Marshall is the top scoring team in Conference USA, and among the top 10 national leaders in scoring offense. The Herd closed the regular season by topping 100 points for the fourth time in 2016-17, tying Charlotte for the most such games in the league this season.  MU guard Jon Elmore is the league’s leading scorer (20.3), while Owls guard Gerdarius Troutman ranks among the nation’s top 25 in three-point field goal percentage (42.5).

Wednesday’s four-game action begins at 11:30 a.m. CT when No. 8 seed WKU squares off with No. 9 seed UTSA. The Hilltoppers, who reached the semifinals of last year’s C-USA Championship as the No. 8 seed, won the regular season meeting between the squads, 81-66, in Bowling Green on Jan. 28. Justin Johnson scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead WKU to the win, while Jeff Beverly netted 20 points for the Roadrunners, who have doubled their win total from last season.

Fifth-seeded Rice will meet Southern Miss in the second game on Wednesday at 2 p.m. CT. It will be the first time the two teams have met in the C-USA Championship.  The Owls have won 21 games this season, its highest total since 2004.  Rice won the regular season meeting at Southern Miss, 61-58, on Jan. 21 as Egor Koulechov scored 16 points and pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds.  Cortez Edwards had 14 points and 12 boards for the Golden Eagles.

No. 10 seed Charlotte and No. 7 UAB will meet in the C-USA Championship for the sixth time to open Wednesday evening play at 5:30 p.m. CT.  The teams met in Birmingham on Feb. 9, with the Blazers posting an 82-69 victory.  UAB scored 52 points in the paint in that win and out-rebounded the 49ers, 48-26.  William Lee had 15 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks for the Blazers, while Charlotte’s Jon Davis netted a game-high 24 points.

In Thursday’s quarterfinal round, No. 1 Middle Tennessee will take on the winner of the WKU-UTSA game at 11:30 a.m. and No. 4 UTEP will face either Southern Miss or Rice beginning at 2 p.m.  No. 2 seed Louisiana Tech will battle either Charlotte or UAB at 5:30 p.m., while No. 3 seed Old Dominion will close out Thursday night against the winner of the Marshall-Florida Atlantic contest at 8 p.m. (9 p.m. EST in Huntington).

All men’s championship games will be played at the Legacy Arena at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) in downtown Birmingham.  This will be the third-straight year and fourth time overall that the venue has hosted the C-USA Championship (2017, 2016, 2015, 1999).

Coverage of the first round will be available through Campus Insiders (campusinsiders.com), while all four quarterfinal games will be available on affiliates of the American Sports Network (ASN, channel 133 on Xfinity/Comcast Huntington, W.Va.) and americansportsnet.com. 

The semifinal games will be shown Friday on CBS Sports Network at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. CT/12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. EST.  CBS Sports Network will also broadcast the championship game on Saturday, beginning at 7:30 p.m. CT/8:30 p.m. EST.

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Ryan Taylor and Talequia Hamilton want YOU to attend their games at the Conference USA Basketball Championships starting Wednesday in Birmingham, Ala.  Call 1-800 THE HERD to get onboard!

All-Session tickets are on sale now.  Single-game tickets will go on sale Sunday via Ticketmaster and Monday at the Legacy Arena at BJCC box office.

2017 Conference USA Championship Schedule

Legacy Arena at BJCC, Birmingham, Ala.

Wednesday, March 8 (CT/EST)

(8) WKU vs. (9) UTSA (Campus Insiders) – 11:30a/12:30 p.m.

(12) Southern Miss vs. (5) Rice (Campus Insiders) – 2:00p/3 p.m.

(10) Charlotte vs. (7) UAB (Campus Insiders) – 5:30p/6:30 p.m.

(11) Florida Atlantic vs. (6) Marshall (Campus Insiders) – 8:00p/9 p.m.

Thursday, March 9 (CT/EST)

WKU/UTSA vs. (1) Middle Tennessee (ASN) – 11:30a/12:30 p.m.

USM/Rice vs. (4) UTEP (ASN) – 2:00p/3:00 p.m.

CHA/UAB vs. (2) Louisiana Tech (ASN) –  5:30p/6:30 p.m.

FAU/MAR vs. (3) Old Dominion (ASN) – 8:00p/9 p.m.

Friday, March 10 (CT/EST)

Semifinal # 1 (CBS Sports Network) – 11:30a/12:30 p.m.

Semifinal # 2 (CBS Sports Network) – 2:00p/3 p.m.

Saturday, March 12 (CT/EST)

Championship Game (CBS Sports Network) – 7:30p/8:30 p.m.

ALL TIMES listed: CENTRAL (in Birmingham, Ala.)/EASTERN (Huntington, W.Va.)

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About Woody Woodrum

Senior Editor and columnist/writer for Herd Insider since 2003, with Kindred Communications on radio for Marshall football/men's basketball pregame and postgame shows since 1996 and with First Sentry Bank Sportsline (Also Scott on Sports, Sideline Sports and Herd Insider Sportsline) since 1997. Married to Liz (12-22-1990) and one son, Tre' (11-7-1997). National Sportswriters & Sportscasters West Virginia Broadcaster of the Year winner for radio, 2000; won W.Va. Broadcasters Best Talk Show in 2013 with co-host Paul Swann and W.Va. Broadcasters Best Play-by-Play in 2015 with Jason Toy (Huntington at South Charleston, state AAA semifinals). Member of (College) Football Writers Association of America, (College) Basketball Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Color commentator for Marshall football (1999-2000), for Marshall basketball (2004-2016) and Marshall baseball (2004-2016). Color for high school football at Spring Valley (1999-2008), Cabell Midland (2009-2012) and Huntington (W.Va.) High School (2013-2016).

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