Those who bet on March Madness will be watching the conference tournaments this weekend, and in the Conference USA, we’ve already seen a top seed fall as UAB lost to East Carolina in the first round. So who will win out between UTEP, Tulsa, Memphis and East Carolina?
UTEP – The Miners eased past Marshall in the first round of the tournament, and they’ve now won four in a row. UTEP is an efficient team that shoots well from the field, led by Randy Culpepper, but it’s never a good sign when your best rebounder is a guard, which Julyan Stone is for the Miners. They did manage to outrebound Marshall in their win, but that may not work against Tulsa.
Tulsa – The Golden Hurricane rolled past Rice to set up a rubber match with the Miners after splitting a pair of games this season, and even though Justin Hurtt was held to 15 points in that game, he is still their best offensive option. However, those watching March Madness scores would like their teams to have a good supporting cast, and players like Steven Idlet will have to step up and help Hurtt more because he’s not going to be able to carry them through the tournament.
Memphis – The Tigers managed to edge Southern Miss by three points, and Memphis has now won only two of their last five games. They’re a balanced team who is 87th in the country in points despite leading scorer Will Barton averaging only 12.5 points, and NBA scouts will end up watching Barton, who is only a freshman.
East Carolina – The Pirates are a dangerous threat for the Tigers, and East Carolina has a solid one-two punch in Jontae Sherrod and Darrius Morrow, who led the Pirates to their overtime win over UAB. Sherrod went for 28 points against Memphis in a home win late in the season, but Morrow was the story in the UAB win.
The Verdict – This is going to be a closely contested tournament, and both games should be exciting to watch. We’re going with UTEP and East Carolina in the final, and while the Pirates beat the Miners by seven at home on February 23rd, we’re taking UTEP to come away with the victory and avenge that loss. UTEP’s strength is that they don’t waste many chances, and if they can get a good edge on the glass, it could be a rout for the Miners, who have never won this tournament, but lost to Houston in the finals last year. Look for them to use that loss as added motivation, and take the UTEP Miners in your online sportsbook. Check back to the Vegas-spreads.com for this weekend's UFC Predictions matchups plus the latest UFC Odds.
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