The Conference USA Baseball Tournament is headed to Ruston, Louisiana. Here’s how to watch and what to be looking for this week.
It took every weekend of the regular season to solidify the eight-team field that will hit the diamond for a busy week of Conference USA Baseball Tournament action. Multiple nationally ranked teams will jockey for postseason position while others hope to play spoiler and punch an at-large bid for their shot at the College World Series.
All games will be streamed on ESPN+ with the exception of the tournament championship, available on CBS Sports Network. The tournament runs from Wednesday, May 26 to Sunday, May 30. The full schedule and updated bracket are available on the Conference USA Baseball Tournament website.
Assessing the field
The favorites | Four teams separated themselves from the rest of the conference during the regular season. Charlotte enters as the No. 1 seed, but Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss and Old Dominion were just two games behind them in the win column this year. All four have spent at least a portion of the season ranked inside the Top 25.
The darkhorse | Pitching is the backbone for a postseason run. Middle Tennessee was the last team to make the field, but the Blue Raiders own the second-best team ERA in the conference. If the offense can do just enough in key moments, MTSU could make things interesting.
The wild card | UTSA is going to try and win every game they play 15-11. That’s a hard feat to replicate in a tournament setting where every game counts, but if the stars align, they could put one of the favorites into a perilous position.
Game 1 – 9:00 AM | (4) Old Dominion vs (5) Florida Atlantic
How they got here | Old Dominion leveraged a white-hot start to conference play to lock up their spot in the tournament. After dropping their C-USA opener, the Monarchs won 10 in a row to pull ahead of the pack. Florida Atlantic rallied late, winning three of their final four series to clinch a spot.
The matchup | These teams met in a four-game series in mid-April with Old Dominion winning three of four in rather resounding fashion, outscoring FAU 25-11.
Game 2 – 12:30 PM | (1) Charlotte vs (8) Middle Tennessee
How they got here | Charlotte was the runaway leader in Conference USA this season, losing just one conference series all year. Middle Tennessee snuck in on the final weekend with a series split against an FIU team that did not make the tournament.
The matchup | Although MTSU plays in the East Division in other sports, they’re a West Division team for baseball and did not cross over to play Charlotte this season. This will be the first matchup between these two clubs this year.
Game 3 – 4:00 PM | (2) Louisiana Tech vs (7) UTSA
How they get here | Louisana Tech ruffled some feathers along the way, posting wins over Top 25 Arkansas and Ole Miss before they got into the thick of conference play. The host of this year’s tournament, the Bulldogs are 19-8 at home this season. UTSA’s success came in waves, with just one series win over another C-USA Tournament team.
The matchup | This is a rematch of the final weekend of the regular season. UTSA took the series opener on Friday before Louisiana Tech came roaring back to beat UTSA in three straight games, including a decisive 17-7 victory in the finale.
Game 4 – 7:30 PM | (3) Southern Miss vs (6) WKU
How they get here | Southern Miss lost back-to-back conference games just twice all season long and only once did the same opponent get the better of them in consecutive games. Western Kentucky’s ride was a bit more choppy, including losses in the final series of the regular season.
The matchup | Southern Miss took three of four from Western Kentucky at Pete Taylor Park earlier this season, with all three wins coming by three of fewer runs. WKU won 9-4 in the final game of that four-game set.