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Conference USA Tournament Preview

By: Timothy Columnist
Contact Timothy

Conference USA Basketball Tournament

March 10 - 13, 2004

Cincinnati, OH

U.S. Bank Arena

Tournament Bracket
Updated with Results

Tournament Favorite > Cincinnati
Cincinnati Seeing as there was a five-team tie for first place, not to mention neither Louisville nor Marquette were apart of that tie in C-USA, Iím not real sure how I could pick a favorite. I will give the nod to Cincy since the tourney is being held in the Queen City at the U.S. Bank Arena, although there are 6 other teams that I think have just as good of a shot at winning the whole thing.

Tournament Dark Horse > Louisville
Louisville Louisville, a team that was once ranked in the top 5, is not even top 5 in their conference anymore. The Cardinals have beaten Cincinnati, Memphis, Kentucky, and Florida this season, so this team has shown signs of life. But they're on life support right now, as they have dropped 7 out of there last 10. Donít count them out though; ever since Wooden Award candidate Francisco Garcia has gotten healthy, he has been stellar. All UL needs now is to rebound the ball a little better. Please take note that UofL has beaten everybody on their side of the bracket at least once, but on the other side, they have only beaten UAB.

Matchup of Intrigue > DePaul vs Marquette
DePaul vs Marquette I find it intriguing that DePaul is the #1 seed (by way of the tiebreaker). Dave Leitao has really done wonders with this team since Andre Brown came back from an early-season injury. DePaul faces a Marquette team that has played well as of late and is coming off a one-point victory over Louisville.

NCAA Tournament Impact
NCAA Tournament C-USA is looking to send a league record 6, maybe even 7 teams to the NCAA Tournament. I think it's safe to say that Memphis, Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, UAB, and Charlotte are heading to the field of 65. The one team on the bubble is Marquette. Their RPI and SOS are not helping since they're in the 80ís and 90ís, respectively. If the Golden Eagles can make it to the finals of the C-USA Tournament, they have a good shot at getting in since the Big 10 and PAC-10 are sending fewer teams than normal this year.

Tournament Ramblings
This year's C-USA Tournament is being held at the Shoemaker Center in Cincinnati. Games start this Wednesday, and the Championship game is Saturday at 10:40 A.M. CDT on CBS. Louisville won last year's conference tourney. The lowest seed ever too win the tournament was St. Louis as a #9 seed in 2000. The two last place teams get left out of the tournament; this year those teams were South Florida and Houston.

Projected Winner > Louisville
Louisville Louisville will repeat as tourney champion for the second straight year, the first time in school history. I have a feeling that the Cards will come in hungry to prove everyone wrong, now that the experts have shoved them under the rug. Please take note once again that Rick Pitino and company have beaten everybody on their side of the bracket at least once, however on the other side of the bracket, they have only beaten UAB. So you could only assume that favors The 'Ville.