Conference USA semifinal preview

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer
Friday afternoon brings the semifinals of the Conference USA tournament, which as of now don't have a lot of high stakes. Marshall won a brilliantly dramatic triple-overtime game 105-100 against No. 3 Tulsa, giving us probably the best game this week. DeAndre Kane had a Conference USA record 40 points in the W.

Let's look at Friday's matchups.

Southern Miss (2) vs. Marshall (6). See, I think Southern Miss is now in the field after dodging a bullet against East Carolina (an 81-78 overtime victory) Thursday. These two teams split the season series, and both games were four-point decisions. So it should be a pretty good one. Kane's the best player on the floor, and while you wouldn't expect him to put up another 40, he'll get 20 easily. USM will counter by shooting from deep. Both teams chase it on the offensive glass; expect upward of 30 offensive boards in this one.

Memphis (1) vs. UCF (4). The Tigers are playing their way to a No. 5 seed. That shouldn't seem high to you, but this team's been getting better and better all season. Will Barton is having himself a season and a half. Does he get his moment of appreciation with a C-USA title run and whomever Memphis gets in its first game?

As for the teams, they split the regular season. Central Florida won 68-67 in January, then Memphis thumped the Black Knights 84-55 on Feb. 28. If the Tigers win big today, look out.
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