Monday, March 10, 2003

C-USA: Marquette going for double


Regular-season champs threat in tourney, too

By Bill Koch
The Cincinnati Enquirer

A preview of the Conference USA Tournament, beginning Wednesday in Louisville:

TEAM TO BEAT

Marquette. No other team in the conference can match the Golden Eagles' (23-4) inside-outside scoring balance. They also have the best player in the league in junior guard Dwyane Wade.

DARK HORSE

Saint Louis. The Billikens (15-12) have bought into coach Brad Soderberg's deliberate approach and have won seven in a row, including victories at Cincinnati and Louisville at home. Guard Marque Perry is averaging 19 points in conference games.

MOST TO PROVE

Cincinnati. Despite their lofty RPI, which held at No. 24 on Sunday, the Bearcats (17-10) would like to have another win or two to solidify their NCAA Tournament berth as an at-large team. Winning the league tournament and the automatic NCAA berth, of course, would be even better.

TOUGHEST DRAW

DePaul. At one time, it appeared the Blue Demons (16-11) might have an outside shot at an NCAA Tournament berth, but they've lost three of their last five. If they get past South Florida in the first round, they face the prospect of having to play No. 2 seed Memphis in the quarterfinals, No. 3 seed Louisville on its home floor in the semifinals and then No. 1 seed Marquette in the final.

WEAKEST DRAW

Louisville. The Cardinals (21-6) get to play at home, face the winner of Tulane (15-14) and Houston (8-19) in the quarterfinals, then could get a chance to avenge a home-court loss to rival Memphis in the semifinals. They wouldn't have to play Marquette until the final. Not a bad deal.

MOST LIKELY MVP

Wade. . The best player in the league leads the conference in scoring at nearly 22 points per game, but more importantly, his game is well-rounded enough that he can help his team win in a variety of ways. He's so versatile it's difficult to design a way to stop him.

PLAYER ON THE SPOT

Chris Massie, Memphis. The Tigers, who didn't play Marquette during the regular season, would love to knock off the Golden Eagles in this tournament and claim one of the two C-USA crowns. To do so, Massie will have to have a huge tournament in the low post.




BENGALS / NFL
James should give Bengals' 'D' a jolt
LeBeau joins Bills as assistant coach

REDS / BASEBALL
This change money in bank
Phillies 3, Reds 2
Kearns to have elbow surgery
Sullivan, Wilson healthy again
Selig isn't in a rush to issue Rose ruling
Reds spring training statistics
Weaver solidifying fifth spot for Yankees
Dessens off to strong start in Arizona

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
UC falls to TCU in thriller
Bearcats looking to add victories
Muskies won't sit on their laurels
Smith hearing cheers as Wildcats perfect in SEC
Top 25: Shorthanded 'Nova nearly pulls upset

CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT PREVIEWS
A-10: Musketeers may get third date with UD
C-USA: Marquette going for double
SEC: Kentucky is the team to beat
MAC: RedHawks have toughest road
Big 10: Wisconsin gets top seed for second straight year
Div. II: NKU's women open against Lakers

PREP SPORTS
Hamilton hopes for more magic
Regional opener matches powers

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Q&A: Wright hopes to crack Hurricane lineup

GOLF
Hoch leaves Doral in the dark

HOCKEY
Ducks fall in overtime

PLAN YOUR DAY
Monday's sports on TV