C-USA basketball tournament brackets unveiled

By Jerry Briggs
Special For The JB Replay

The UTSA women will play the FAU Owls and the UTSA men will take on the Rice Owls Wednesday on opening day of the Conference USA basketball tournaments, according to the brackets released Saturday night.

The tournaments will run concurrently at The Star in Frisco from Wednesday through Saturday.

Both the UTSA women and men will need to win four games in four days to claim an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Women’s tournament

The UTSA-FAU women’s game is scheduled to tip off at 2 p.m. Riding a four-game winning streak, UTSA is the No. 6 seed and FAU is No. 11. The teams split their regular-season series, with Florida-based FAU claiming an 81-66 victory over UTSA on Jan. 19. The Roadrunners turned the tables, downing the Owls 77-61 in San Antonio on Feb. 23.

UTSA forward Jordyn Jenkins, in her first year in the program, has established herself as one of the top players in the conference. She’s leading the C-USA in scoring (21.1) and field goal percentage (49.4) and is second in rebounding (7.5).


UTSA 11-18, 9-11
FAU 12-17, 5-15

Last 10 games

UTSA 7-3
FAU 1-9

Coming up

If the Roadrunners win, they would play the third-seeded Rice Owls (22-7, 13-7) in the C-USA quarterfinals on Thursday at 2 p.m. It would be the first game of the tournament for Rice, which has a bye through the first round. The winner would advance to the semifinals on Friday at 7 p.m. The women’s title game is scheduled for Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

Men’s tournament

The UTSA-Rice men’s game is scheduled for an 8:30 p.m. tipoff. UTSA comes in as the 11th seed in the tournament against Rice, at No. 6. UTSA is playing better than Rice of late, with the Roadrunners winning three of the last five and the Owls losing four straight.

During the regular season, the teams split two games, with the Roadrunners losing 88-81 in overtime in the first meeting in San Antonio, after leading by as many as 18 points in the first half.

Rice guard Quincy Olivari scored 30 points and center Max Fiedler posted a triple-double with 24 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists. Japhet Medor scored 30 for the Roadrunners.

In the rematch between the teams on Feb. 16 in Houston, UTSA surprised Rice, winning 84-79. The Roadrunners shot 52.5 percent from the field, and John Buggs III led four UTSA players in double figures with 23 points.


Rice 17-14, 8-12
UTSA 10-21, 4-16

Last 10 games

Rice 2-8
UTSA 3-7

Coming up

If UTSA wins, the Roadrunners would advance to the quarterfinals on Thursday against the third-seeded UAB Blazers (23-8, 14-6). The winner on Thursday will be confronted with a quick turnaround, as it would move on to the semifinals on Friday at 2 p.m. The championship game is set for Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

‘Weird situations’ loom with C-USA schedule

Because of preseason adjustments designed to cut down on travel during the pandemic, UTSA is now scheduled to play only nine C-USA opponents during the regular season.

UTSA (4-3) will play each opponent twice, starting with a pair of road games Friday and Saturday in Houston against Rice (6-2).

“We’re thrilled that we were able to get in seven non-conference games,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said Wednesday. “We made the decision to not play in a (multi-team event). We were able to get our games in. Now we’re hoping to get a bunch of conference games in and continue to play better.

“But, yeah, there’s going to be some weird situations. Not playing people in your own league is very odd, obviously. If there is cancellations or postponements, that’s going to throw in some more questions as we move along.

“But you just can’t waste energy worrying about those things that are out of our control.”

UTSA is set to play against all six of its C-USA West opponents, plus FIU, Florida Atlantic and Charlotte from the East.

It’s an open question as to whether UTSA has advantage in not having to play Western Kentucky, Marshall and Old Dominion. North Texas, for instance, will play two-game sets against Old Dominion and Marshall on the road and Western Kentucky at home.

“You know, if you start doing that, you drive yourself crazy,” Henson said. “I mean, we’ve had some pretty good success against … some of those teams. We’ve lost some (games) against teams in the bottom half. We struggled against some of those teams.

“The fact that we don’t have to travel all the way to those places is kind of nice. I know that. Those are some rough road trips. But our guys get excited to play some of those opponents.

“If we have a good season and then are denied an opportunity to play them, I think our guys, they’ll probably be disappointed that we don’t get to play them.

“But, I think the league is doing the best they can. They’ve tried to set up a lot of regional opportunities. Obviously, going all the way to Florida, there’s some things that don’t quite make sense.

“But again, it’s hard. You lay out the blue print, try to factor in 14 (teams), it gets really, really hard.”

C-USA basketball will move to divisional standings

Conference USA men’s and women’s basketball will move to a divisional standings format for the 2020-21 season, as approved by the league’s Board of Directors.

The move was announced Wednesday, two days before the start of the C-USA conference season.

C-USA will feature East and West divisions and will crown divisional champions at the conclusion of conference play in March.

Standings will be based on overall conference winning percentage. In addition, divisional seeding will be utilized for the C-USA Men’s and Women’s Championships. A cross-divisional bracket will be used to determine first-round matchups.

The conference announced the divisions as follows:

East — Charlotte, FIU, Florida Atlantic, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion and Western Kentucky.

West — Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Rice, Southern Miss, UAB, UTEP and UTSA.

UTSA men’s coach Steve Henson said “there are a lot of advantages” to having divisions in a 14-team league.

“Over the years, conferences have continued to get bigger and bigger,” Henson said. “Years ago, a seven-team league was not uncommon. Seven- or eight-teams in the league was kind of normal. Having divisions can provide a lot of positives. It can give you key games late in conference play.

“The way we’re doing it this year, we’re just playing a schedule but then ranking the results based on divisions. It’s kind of a unique way of looking at it this year.”

UTSA men’s and women’s conference competition begins this weekend, with the men set for back-to-back games at Rice on Friday and Saturday. Also Friday and Saturday, the UTSA women will host Rice.

The C-USA Basketball Championships will be held at The Star, in Frisco, from March 10-13. This will be the fourth year that the event will be held in Frisco.