The Daily Dig: C-USA Championship Edition

The #21 UTEP Miners take on the surging Houston Cougars, led by the nation's leading scorer Aubrey Coleman, at 9:30 am MST.  UTEP hasn't won a league tournament since the old WAC days in 2005.  Go Miners!

THE UTEP MINERS

The Ocho:  I wanted to pass along this link.  The Bracket Matrix is a nice compilation of all of the various bracket projections in one place.  It will give you a good idea of where all the so-called experts have the Miners in the bracket.  Right now, the nation sees UTEP as an 8/9 seed.

Tip Your Waitresses:  Tuto's Jay Koester thinks UTEP is a lock for the tournament.  He also brought the jokes:

And reminds me of one of the first jokes I heard when I moved to El Paso: How do you kill a Jayhawk? UTEP on it.

Well Deserved:  Tony Barbee has been named the National Association of Basketball Coaches District 11 Coach of the Year. 

UTEP's Tony Barbee was appointed the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) District 11 Coach of the Year on Friday after directing the Miners to a 25-5 record this season, including a 15-1 mark in C-USA regular season play. Barbee is one of 24 district winners.

C-USA > Current WACDuke Keith's blog post hits on a series of random notes.  I enjoyed it.

However, if the tourney comes here, it doesn't matter if half the city wants UTEP to be in the Mountain West, or even the WAC (because who wouldn't want to watch Idaho-San Jose State?), the Miners are in Conference USA; which, despite the lack of zing, still has a better television deal.

HOUSTON COUGARS

Season Salvaged?  Houston has had an up and down basketball season.  Tom Penders has taken his share of criticism, and he sounds very grateful for his team's recent run (particularly Aubrey Coleman's part of it).

"Sometimes coaching can be a real bummer, and we’ve been through a lot of stress and strain and abuse our families because we’re never around," Penders said. "A kid like that makes it all worthwhile. It’s nice to have this opportunity."

He Scores a Lot:  Aubrey Coleman is averaging just under 26 points per game in the C-USA Tournament.  The Miners are going to have their work cut out for them trying to contain him.

TULSA GOLDEN HURRICANE

N-I-T?  It looks like Jerome Jordan and Ben Uzoh may have yet another chance to play at a not-quite full arena in Tulsa.  The NIT came-a-calling and Tulsa has agreed to be a host team.

"I think it's a great achievement," said Tulsa coach Doug Wojcik when asked if his team would accept an NIT bid. "... Would love to be in the NIT." Tulsa (23-11) has been approached and has agreed to be a host team in the NIT, a 32-team postseason basketball tournament, athletic director Bubba Cunningham said. The NIT field is expected to be announced Sunday, and it's unclear if Tulsa would have a seed high enough to host a first-round game.

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