The Conference USA Tournament gets started on Wednesday. UTEP, Memphis, UAB, and Marshall will be in the stands, waiting to see who survives the opening day's shootout, and who will be gunning for them on Thursday.
The Houston team will duel with ECU's Pirates. Houston is a real head scratcher. They can be lightning quick on the draw, or they can just as easily shoot themselves in the foot. They were the only team in C-USA to notch a win against UTEP and they beat Memphis soundly, 92 to 75. But, they were shot down twice by UCF, and even Tulane took them out.
The Pirates will do the best they can with their flintlocks. They Shanghaied Tulane twice, and split with UCF. The Knights fell to the Pirates broadsides in one battle. But, the Pirates' cutlasses were no match against the Knights broadswords in their other meeting. Oh yeah, the Pirates shot a roosting Owl out of a tree.
Houston averages 78.7 ppg and gives up 75. ECU averages 66.7 ppg and allows 74.3. Here is the key to the game, though. Houston averages only 9.4 turnovers a game, while forcing 17.5. Guess what? ECU turns the ball over on average, 16.8 times a gave. The Pirates bring a knife to a gun fight. Houston 80, ECU 65.
Southern Miss faces the challenge of the Green Wave of Tulane. The Eagles are a street gang, packing sawed-off shotguns. They bullied the lower half of the conference's teams, and when they ran into the teams in the upper half, those teams barely escaped with their lives.
The Green Wave are the neighborhood kids. They will be carrying their Super Soakers. They want to play. They don't mean anyone any harm (well, they did beat up on Rice a couple of times, but everyone picked on Rice).
This will be The Crips Meet the Little Rascals. It's going to be ugly. It's just not right. Southern Miss 70, Tulane 60.
Rice, armed with their pea shooters, will try to defend themselves against the Golden Hurricane of Tulsa. Shoot, Tulsa doesn't even need to bring a weapon. When the 120 mph winds die down, the Owls will find that they have been plucked. Wisely, they will take the opportunity provided by the calm weather to fly south, back to their nest in Houston. This match up is sick. Anyone who would watch this game would enjoy watching puppies being fed to alligators. Oh yeah, this game is being played in Tulsa. The BOK Center will be packed. Tulsa has had a rough stretch lately, and this is just the kind of massacre they need to salve their wounded egos. Tulsa 75, Rice 60.
The SMU Mustangs
will face UCF's Golden Knights in what should be the best match of the day. The Mustangs are 7 and 9 but, they must have pissed off the schedule makers. In the nine games they lost, they lost to UTEP twice, Tulsa twice, UAB, Marshall, Memphis, Houston, and Southern Miss. SMU likes to play in slow motion. They like to force their opponents into a duel with single shot muzzle loaders, when their opponents are used to firing assault rifles.
The Knights are ADD ADHD. They have talent, but have a tough time with control and focus. They like the machine guns. They have the fire power, but sometimes they just can't control the muzzle rise, and get off target.
This game is like Quaaludes versus Bennies. Bloodhounds versus greyhounds. SMU did win their match up earlier this season, so I will go with what we know. SMU 68, UCF 63.
We'll see how this looks, once the smoke has cleared. Then, we can reload and get ready for the real Gunslingers. Here's to tight groups in the black spot in the middle.