The closest conference race in college basketball has ended in a five-way tie
for first place. Charlotte, Cincinnati, DePaul, Memphis and UAB have all
finished with identical league records of 12-4. Based on tie-breaker procedures,
DePaul will be the top seed at the 2004 Kelly Tires Conference USA Men's
Basketball Tournament in Cincinnati. The four day, 12-team event will be held
Wednesday-Saturday, March 10-13 at U.S. Bank Arena in downtown Cincinnati.
Twice Conference USA has had two schools share the regular season championship, but never has more than two schools earned a piece of the crown. For Cincinnati, it has now won at least a share of eight of the conference's nine regular season titles. Memphis gains a piece of its second title, as the Tigers split the league's first regular season championship with UC back in 1996. Charlotte, DePaul and UAB all won titles in other leagues during the 1990's. Charlotte captured the final regular season title of the Metro Conference in 1995, DePaul shared the inaugural Great Midwest Conference championship with Cincinnati in 1992 and UAB won the 1990 Sun Belt Conference title.
Tournament play gets underway Wednesday at 1 p.m. when No. 5 seed Charlotte (20-7, 12-4) meets 12th-seeded Tulane (11-16, 4-12). These teams will be meeting for the second time in five days, as earlier on Saturday, the 49ers defeated the Green Wave, 79-65. The winner of this meeting will face No. 4 seed UAB in Thursday's first quarterfinal at 1:00 p.m. EST. The Blazers need one more victory for their second straight 20-win season under Mike Anderson.
The 3:30 p.m. game on Wednesday features No. 8 seed Marquette (17-10, 8-8) against ninth-seeded TCU (11-16, 7-9). The Horned Frogs won the initial meeting between the teams, 85-79, on Feb. 3 in Milwaukee. The winner of this battle meets No. 1 seed DePaul in Thursday's 3:30 p.m. quarterfinal. The Blue Demons enter the tournament having won 12 of their last 14 games.
No. 6 seed Louisville (19-8, 9-7) faces 11th-seeded East Carolina (13-13, 5-11) in Wednesday's 7 p.m. first round game. The Cardinals won in Greenville on Jan. 15, 76-66. The winner of this matchup advances to face No. 3 seed and 14th-ranked Cincinnati in Thursday's 7:00 p.m. quarterfinal. Cincinnati has advanced to at least the semifinal round in six of the first eight C-USA Tournaments.
The final game of the opening day tips off at 9:30 p.m. and will feature No. 7 seed Saint Louis (16-11, 9-7) and No. 10 seed Southern Miss (13-14, 6-10) are meeting for the fourth time in an opening round C-USA Tournament game. The Billikens took a one-point decision over the Golden Eagles on Jan. 13 in St. Louis. The winner of the SLU-USM game will battle No. 2 seed Memphis, at 9:30 p.m. in Thursday's final quarterfinal. The Tigers enter the tourney having won at least 21 games for the fourth consecutive season.
Two opening round games will air on ESPN 2 and the first semifinal on Friday will air on ESPN. All other games on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will be shown on ESPN Plus. Please check your local listings. Saturday's 11:41 a.m. final will be aired nationally on CBS.
2004 KELLY TIRES CONFERENCE USA TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE
Wednesday, March 10 (First Round)
(5) Charlotte vs. (12) Tulane (ESPN 2) 1:00p
(8) Marquette vs. (9) TCU (ESPN 2) 3:30p
(6) Louisville vs. (11) East Carolina (ESPN Plus) 7:00p
(7) Saint Louis vs. (10) Southern Miss (ESPN Plus) 9:30p
Thursday, March 11 (Quarterfinals)
CHA/TUL vs. (4) UAB (ESPN Plus) 1:00p
MAR/TCU vs. (1) DePaul (ESPN Plus) 3:30p
LOU/ECU vs. (3) Cincinnati (ESPN Plus) 7:00p
SLU/USM vs. (2) Memphis (ESPN Plus) 9:30p
Friday, March 12 (Semifinals)
Semifinal No. 1 (ESPN) 4:30p
Semifinal No. 2 (ESPN Plus) 7:00p
Saturday, March 13
Championship Game (CBS) 11:41p
All times Eastern
Single session tickets for the event are available at all Ticketmaster locations, with a credit card by calling 513-562-4949 or online at www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets for Sessions 1-4 are $30.00 per session while sessions 5 and 6 are $35.00 per session.