Conference USA Tournament 2013: Underdogs That Will Steal NCAA Bids

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Conference USA Tournament 2013: Underdogs That Will Steal NCAA Bids
USA TODAY Sports

March Madness is finally here, and Conference USA has a few underdogs that will make a run at stealing bids from bubble teams.

Memphis ran the table during conference play, so they are locks to make the tournament with a 27-4 record. The Tigers can improve their seed by winning the conference tournament, but they don't have much riding on this week.

Other than that, no other team is in line to make the NCAA tournament. 

The conference is hoping someone can upset Memphis so another team or two has a chance to sneak into the tournament. Southern Miss, a bubble team, needs to have a good showing to have a chance to sneak in.

Other than Memphis, here are a few teams that have a chance to steal a bid from bubble teams with good showings in the conference tournament. 

 

Southern Miss

As mentioned above, the Golden Eagles have the best chance to steal a bid. At 23-8, they have put themselves in position to possibly receive an at-large bid. 

They are the favorites to knock off Memphis, but it may not take a conference title to get an at-large bid. A run to the finals with a good game against Memphis may be all it takes for the Golden Eagles to be on the right side of the bubble.

Who has the better chance of stealing a bid?

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Southern Miss has lost twice to Memphis this season, but they have some quality showings against good teams. The Golden Eagles have beaten Western Kentucky and Georgia. They also had an eight-point halftime lead at Arizona and an 11-point halftime lead over Wichita State.

Dwayne Davis has been spectacular this season. He is shooting 50 percent from the field, 43 percent from three-point range and 80 percent at the line. The senior has had at least 34 points in back-to-back games, so he could carry his team to a tournament bid.

Jonathan Mills has been good on the boards. He has averaged 11 rebounds per game during the last three games.

Southern Miss is led by a couple of seniors, which can be a dangerous thing in March. Although the Golden Eagles would be better off winning the tournament, they could still steal a bid by losing to Memphis in a close game in the finals.

 

UTEP

At 18-13, the Miners have to win the Conference USA Tournament to get into the NCAA tournament.

They finished the season by winning three of four games, so they have some momentum heading into the conference tournament. The team's only loss in that span was a two-point loss to Memphis.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

UTEP has a few good showings against quality opponents but only one solid win. The Miners knocked off Oregon in triple overtime earlier this season. A close loss to Oklahoma and a pair of two-point defeats to UNLV and Memphis doesn't look bad, but they don't have a good enough record to be looking at "good losses."

They have shown that they can hang around with the quality teams, but they haven't beaten the lesser teams with any frequency.

UTEP can only make the NCAA tournament by getting the automatic bid, but they don't have any superstars to lead them on a deep run. If they are going to steal a bid, it's going to take a total team effort.

 

*All stats courtesy of ESPN.com

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