Apparently, the first day of the Conference USA tournament was a bust. Media members in attendance were mocking just how thinly attended the event was in Memphis. That will change Thursday, as the Tigers, the No. 1 seed, get things.
Let's look at today's matchups -- and why not -- do a little predicting.
Southern Miss (2) vs. East Carolina (10). Jeff Lebo's team advanced over Rice with a 68-66 victory. Good for Jeff Lebo, who's trying to make inroads at a tough place to win in college basketball. Coming from Auburn, Lebo knows that path well. Let me make this clear: Southern Miss has to win this. HAS TO. The Golden Eagles have skirted a lot of bubble talk, but I'm not sure why other than the RPI being way, way too high (17). The team's best wins are home over South Florida and home over Memphis. Gotta avoid a bad loss here. I think they do: 74-66, USM.
Tulsa (3) vs. Marshall (6). Can a three seed be a dark horse? If so, Tulsa qualifies in this tournament. Marshall's better than a six, though, so this amounts to the most interesting, toughest call of the day. It'll be interesting to see if the Thundering Herd opts to stay away from the 3 ball, or they trust their size to clean up the glass. Marshall's one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country, and I'd imagine Tulsa will have its hands full down low. Marshall lost in the first meeting, 79-70, but I think it gets revenge today. 69-66.
Memphis (1) vs. UTEP (8). I'd love to say the Tigers will roll over the eight seed, but UTEP is responsible for Memphis' most recent loss, a 60-58 result AT Memphis on Feb. 18. Ah, heck, I'm saying it -- the Tigers will exact revenge and roll over the Miners. It'll end somewhere in the neighborhood of 79-62.
Central Florida (4) vs. UAB (5). The Blazers and Black Knights played twice this season, and UCF won it two very different ways. It was 48-41, and then it was 71-63 in the season finale. How tough is it to be a like-minded team three times in one season? Very. UAB steals it, 66-60.
-- Matt Norlander