The Daily Dig:  2.24.10


It's a game night across the C-USA.  Here is your one-stop source for the news around the league.

TONIGHT'S C-USA SLATE:  The league's top four teams are all on the road tonight.  All but UTEP are in must-win situations if they want to hold serve in the standings.

1.  SMU (12-4, 5-7) at East Carolina (9-17, 3-9):  CBS College Sports

2.  UAB (21-5, 9-3) at UCF (13-13, 5-7)

3.  Marshall (20-7, 8-4) at Rice (8-18, 1-11)

4.  Memphis (20-7, 10-2) at Houston (13-13, 5-7)

5.  #25 UTEP (20-5, 11-1) at Southern Miss (16-10, 6-6):  Preview Here.

UTEP MINERS

Told You SoTurn Up the Orange's Jay Koester just realized that a bad loss early in the C-USA tournament might be enough of a reason for the NCAA selection committee to leave the Miners out of the dance.

Nowhere close to safe? UTEP fans probably don't want to hear it, but he's probably right. UTEP is the clear favorite now for the league title, but Gary thinks if they then lost in the early rounds of the conference tournament they could still be on the outside looking in.

Oh, That's It?  Koester was remarking on CBS Sports analyst Gary Parrish's tweet where he lays out what he thinks UTEP needs to accomplish to be get in the tourney.

League title and league tournament title game would probably do it for UTEP in terms of an at-large. But they're nowhere close to safe.

Tony Barbee is making his mentors look goodKentuckysports.com analyzes the impressive stable of former Kentucky assistants throughout the NCAA.

Former Calipari assistant Tony Barbee has done quite a job as a fourth-year head coach at UTEP. The Miners have won 10 straight to reach a 20-5 record. Under Barbee, UTEP has gone from 6-10 to 8-8 to 10-6 to now 11-1 in Conference USA.

The One That Got Away:  El Dorado junior tight end M.J. McFarland has committed to sign with the Texas Longhorns next February as part of their 2011 recruiting class.  McFarland is ranked the #24 overall prospect in the state of Texas and the #1 Tight End in the Lone Star 2011 Top 100.

So much for speculation that MJ McFarland would heed his parents' wishes and take a trip to Texas Tech -- it's probably safe to assume that they were sufficiently impressed by the campus, facilities, and sitting down with Mack Brown that they gave their blessing to their son's decision. McFarland fills a need at tight end as a big, athletic prospect with the ability to create separation from defensive backs. McFarland is now the 11th commit of the class.

SOUTHERN MISS GOLDEN EAGLES

A Little CBI Never Hurts:  USM head coach Larry Eustachy thinks his team has a legitimate shot at playing in a post-season tournament.

"We’re in contention for some type of postseason," Eustachy said Saturday. "It’s not about me. I’ve had my jollies in basketball. I don’t want these guys to stub their toe and have a single situation ruin their chances. We’re good enough to play with anybody in this league.

Sai' What Sai'Quon?  USM guard Sai'Quon Stone knows firsthand how good the "loaded" Miners are and he discussed the first meeting in El Paso.

"You look at the score and say it was a tight game," USM guard Sai’Quon Stone said. "Us personally, the coaches and players, know we got destroyed from the tip the buzzer.

TULSA GOLDEN HURRICANE

And Some Argue El Paso Can't Support the C-USA Tourney:  Tulsa's recent struggles on the court has local business leaders panicking that the tournament will be played in front of empty bleachers.

In 2008, as the host of the Conference USA Tournament, the University of Memphis reportedly sold about 5,000 all-session tickets. Last year, sales reportedly were down about 30 percent.

Insert Aggie Joke Here:  Tulsa head football coach hired former Texas A&M secondary coach to take over the secondary for the Hurricane. 

We are extremely excited to add a coach with Van?s experience, pedigree and reputation," Graham said. "He?s a guy who won the Darrel Royal award for most tenacious player [at Texas]. He has an NFL background as a player, and he has coached big-time college football.?

MEMPHIS TIGERS

Jersey Shore:  Memphis Commercial Appeal, and Tiger beat writer, Dan Wolken is very nervous about spending next March in sunny El Paso.  He's been throwing a Twitter temper tantrum...

Maybe Tulsa should have done the same?

El Paso wants the 2011 C-USA Tourney so bad, it will use taxpayer money to guarantee underwrite financial losses

We get over 8,000 people to every home game, I think we'll support the tournament.

My point is, if you put it in El Paso, it's 100% on their citizens to support it. At those ticket prices, it's not as easy as they think.

Will Memphis do the same this year?

Maybe UTEP would be interested in returning its share of NCAA Tournament money that Memphis earned in exchange for hosting rights.

A Trap Game?  Memphis is weary of a road game at Aubrey Coleman's place.

After winning five straight conference games, the Tigers are looking to avoid a possible "trap" game against the Cougars, whose record is not necessarily a cause for concern.

A Tough Act to Follow (without cheating):  The Houston Chronicle has a nice feature on Memphis coach Josh Pastner.  Pastner discusses replacing John Calipari who left the program right before the NCAA came-a-calling...

"People say, ‘Man, what a tough job to follow coach Cal after what he did the last four years,' " Pastner said. "I say, ‘Stop.' First of all, every job is hard. Second, it depends on how you look at it. Yeah, it's a tough job. But taking over another job where they haven't won, with no resources in place, you don't think that's a tough job?

RICE OWLS

Night of the Iron Owl:  The Houston Chronicle's Jeffrey Martin describes the Night of the Iron Owl; which admittedly sounds awesome.

"The Rice Owls football team will celebrate the end of their 2010 Winter Conditioning workouts tonight as several team members look to establish career bests during the third annual Night of the Iron Owl.

The event, which is open to the public, will be held in Fox Gymnasium, located next to Tudor Fieldhouse and begin at 7 p.m. Owls fans will have a chance cheer on the Owls as they attempt to set personal and position records in the bench press, power clean and the squat.

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