The Conference USA Baseball Tournament returns to Biloxi, Mississippi for what promises to be another exciting final week with an NCAA bid on the line.
An eventful regular season has boiled down to one week in Biloxi. Eight Conference USA teams will enter, but only one will clinch an NCAA Tournament bid. With the possible exception of 1-Seed FAU or 2-Seed Southern Miss, the rest of the league will need to win the tournament to have a realistic shot at the NCAA Tournament as an at large team.
All games will be streamed on ESPN+ with the exception of the tournament championship, available on CBS Sports Network scheduled for Sunday, May 26 at 1:00 pm. The first four games are scheduled to be played on Wednesday, May 22. The full schedule and updated bracket are available on the CUSA Baseball website.
Assessing the field
The favorites | Southern Miss and FAU are arguably the two most complete teams in Conference USA. They each possess the depth to make a run through the loser’s bracket should they need to, although the field isn’t far behind.
The darkhorse | Old Dominion is playing their best baseball of the season when it matters most. The Monarchs might not be thought of as a baseball power, but they could sneak up on a team caught looking ahead.
The wild card | Rice might be the scariest team in this regional. Their bullpen has been as erratic as the starting pitching has been dominant. If they can manufacture something out of the pen, Rice could stun several higher seeded teams.
Game 1 – 9:00 AM | (6) Marshall vs (3) Louisiana Tech
How they got here | It took a strong finish on the final weekend of the regular season for Marshall to clinch a spot in the CUSA Tournament field. The Thundering Herd swept Rice, setting up a rematch with Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs had a more comfortable journey, winning seven of their 10 CUSA series.
The matchup | Louisiana Tech took two of three from Marshall in the regular season, but it’s worth noting Marshall won the series opener. With just short of a full week’s rest to rest their pitching, this could be a close one.
Game 2 – 12:30 PM | (7) Rice vs (2) Southern Miss
How they got here | Southern Miss was in contention for the No. 1 overall seed until the final weekend of conference play. Their series loss to eventual top-seed FAU cost them the top spot and set them up for a matchup with hot and cold Rice. The Owls ricocheted to a low point in their final series, being swept by Marshall on three consecutive walk-off losses.
The matchup | Had it not been for a shaky bullpen, Rice might have swept Southern Miss in the regular season. Rice took two of three from the Golden Eagles. The caveat of the inconsistent bullpen throws any reasonable expectation for how this game might end up right out the window.
Game 3 – 4:00 PM | (8) UTSA vs (1) FAU
How they get here | FAU baseball seized their opportunity, following a series win over then top-seeded Southern Miss with wins in five of their final six conference games. That gave them the regular season crown. They’ll face off with UTSA who clinched their spot on the final weekend, taking two of three from Charlotte.
The matchup | UTSA managed one win in three tries against FAU during the regular season. The lone victory came by way of a two-hit complete game performance from Slater Foust. Silencing FAU’s offense won’t come easy, even with ace Karan Patel on the mound.
Game 4 – 7:30 PM | (5) Old Dominion vs (4) WKU
How they get here | Playing in the CUSA Baseball conference tournament for the first time in school history, WKU road a stout offense to their first such postseason berth. Old Dominion was swept at home by Rice in late March and proceeded to win their last seven CUSA series to rocket back into the postseason mix.
The matchup | Old Dominion took two of three from Western Kentucky in the final weekend of regular season play, capping the series off with theatrics. Trailing 10-5 in the ninth inning, Old Dominion scored seven unanswered runs to take the game and the series.
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