Jordan Walker, UAB Blazers, C-USA Tournament preview

CBB Review prepares you for every conference tournament leading up to Selection Sunday. Up next: The C-USA Tournament.

The C-USA Tournament should be very unique this year, as Florida Atlantic enters with the potential of earning at at-large bid if they aren’t able to capture the championship. They will have stiff competition, including UAB and North Texas, who both have strong resumes themselves.

2023 C-USA Conference Awards

Player of the Year: Jordan Walker, UAB

Freshman of the Year: Japhet Medor, UTSA

Transfer of the Year: Tae Hardy, UTEP

Coach of the Year: Dusty May, Florida Atlantic

First Team:

  • G: Tylor Perry, North Texas (17.0 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.2 SPG, 42.6 3P%)
  • G: Denver Jones, FIU(20.0 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.8 SPG)
  • G: Jordan Walker, UAB (23.2 PPG, 4.2 APG, 2.6 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 39.1 3P%)
  • F: Jacob Germany, UT San Antonio (12.4 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 0.9 APG, 0.8 BPG)
  • F: Max Fiedler, Rice (10.6 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 5.1 APG, 1.1 BPG)

Second Team:

  • G: Eric Gaines, UAB (12.0 PPG, 4.6 APG, 3.3 RPG, 1.9 SPG)
  • G: Quincy Olivari, Rice (19.3 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.1 SPG)
  • G: Dayvion McKnight, Western Kentucky (16.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.7 SPG)
  • F: Abou Ousmane, North Texas (11.5 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.3 BPG)
  • C: Jamarion Sharp, Western Kentucky (7.3 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 0.2 APG, 1.0 SPG, 4.2 BPG)

C-USA Tournament Simulation

First Round – Wednesday, Mar. 8

8. Western Kentucky (16-15, 8-12) vs. 9. UTEP (14-17, 7-13) –  6:30 p.m. on ESPN+

In both games, Western Kentucky came away with a five-point win. In both games, the Hilltoppers had a third player step up. In the first game, it was Allen; in the last, it was Rawls. UTEP needs both Frazier and Solomon to step up to grab the win. McKnight was the consistent player in both games on the offensive end. If he struggles, I would be nervous for Western Kentucky, but unlikely to happen.

Jason’s Pick: 8. Western Kentucky

7. FIU (14-17, 8-12) vs. 10. Louisiana Tech (14-17, 7-13) –  9 p.m on ESPN+

These two teams split their matchups, both teams winning at home. Florida International is the better team; it took overtime and free throws from Louisiana to seal the home win. In either case, both of these games were competitive. It doesn’t bode well for the team winning at the half, as the other team has a second-half offensive day. FIU grabbed a nice road win against Rice and thinks it carries it into this first-round matchup.

Jason’s Pick: 7. Florida International

6. Rice (17-14, 8-12) vs. 11. UTSA (10-21, 4-16) – 9:30 p.m. on ESPN+

Both teams won on the road against the other. Rice did not feed Fiedler in the second game, and the Roadrunners had Farmer and Germany step up off the bench. UTSA will need to continue to create shots in the arc. Medor and Buggs are key and will need help from other players to win.

Jason’s Pick: 6. Rice

Quarterfinals – Thursday, Mar. 9

8. Western Kentucky vs. 1. Florida Atlantic (28-3, 18-2) – 6:30 p.m. on ESPN+

Florida Atlantic needed time in its first game to win against the Hilltoppers. Western Kentucky, however, battled in the second and kept it competitive, but could never take the lead in the second half. The Owls are a dominant team in the metrics, but all it takes is one off night. I think Coach Stansbury shows up and gives a scare to Florida Atlantic but falls short.

Jason’s Pick: 1. Florida Atlantic

4. Middle Tennessee (18-13, 11-9) vs. 5. Charlotte (18-13, 9-11) – 7 p.m. on ESPN+

These two teams split, each winning at home. Charlotte was dominant at home, while Middle Tennessee barely won at home. Charlotte’s win was on the back of Brice Williams, who scored 31 points in their first meeting. On paper, the Blue Raiders should win this matchup. However, the 49ers have the players I think want to continue playing and will have a fire.

Jason’s Pick: 5. Charlotte

2. North Texas (25-6, 16-4) vs. 7. FIU – 9 p.m. on ESPN+

The Mean Green has limited losses as the two seed, and neither came to Florida International. Denver Jones is the most consistent player in these two games against North Texas but has no second fiddle to help. North Texas has a steady second fiddle in Huntsberry and even a third player averaging double-digits in Ousmane. Have to stay chalk here and trust in the Mean Green.

Jason’s Pick: 2. North Texas

3. UAB (23-8, 14-6) vs. 6. Rice – 9:30 p.m. on ESPN+

The Blazers beat Rice in both games by 18 points. In one of those games, the team was without Jordan “Jelly” Walker and leaned heavily on him in his return as he put up 32 points against the Owls. With that in mind, there is no hope for Rice to win this game. I’d be comfortable taking UAB by +8.

Jason’s Pick: 3. UAB

Semifinals – Friday, Mar. 10

1. Florida Atlantic vs. 5. Charlotte – 12:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network

A benefit of being a one-seed is that your team has an excellent road to the championship. Again, the Owls have swept Charlotte in their matchups. While it struggled in its first meeting, the balanced attack and offensive success were still not enough to beat the Owls.

Jason’s Pick: 1. Florida Atlantic

2. North Texas vs. 3. UAB – 3 p.m. on CBS Sports Network

This is a tough one since North Texas swept the Blazers this season. In the first game, Jordan Walker was out due to injury, and the game was much closer in the second matchup, which was at home. UAB lost because the team put the Mean Green on the free-throw line and the boards. With a neutral court, I expect the Blazer and Walker to show up and take down North Texas.

Jason’s Pick: 3. UAB

Championship – Saturday, Mar. 11

1. Florida Atlantic vs. 3. UAB – 8:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network

With the split being decided, the Blazers outshot the Owls in the championship matchup. UAB continues to be an offensive juggernaut with Walker in the lineup. With his ability to draw defenders and his teammates stepping up, this team is difficult to stop. Both teams will likely score 75+, and it will be a fun championship.

Jason’s Pick: 3. UAB

One thought on “2023 C-USA Tournament Preview & Conference Awards”

Comments are closed.