C-USA teams begin play Wednesday morning

If you’re looking for a hometown favorite in this week’s Conference USA baseball championship, look no further than the Southern Miss Golden Eagles. 

USM has won its fourth outright regular season Conference USA title and the No. 15 Golden Eagles will be the No. 1 seed when the 2017 C-USA Championship begins Wednesday morning at MGM Park.

Southern Miss (44-12 overall) won nine of 10 conference series and finished with a 25-5 record in league play, matching the league record for victories in a season.  The Golden Eagles 14-game winning streak is the longest in school history and the longest current streak in the nation.

The championship will feature the top eight teams in regular-season league play.  The format is two double-elimination brackets with four teams each, with the winners of each bracket meeting in a single-elimination championship game.  Southern Miss is the defending champion.


Day 1 play: Four games on tap

The tournament will begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday when No. 6 seed Rice (27-29) faces No. 3 seed Florida Atlantic (33-19-1).  The Rice Owls come in having won their last five conference series and have taken 14 of their last 18 games overall.  The Florida Atlantic Owls closed out the regular season with three wins over nationally-ranked opponents in the final week.  FAU won two-of-three games at Rice earlier in the season.  This will be the first time the dueling feisty night birds have met each other in the C-USA Championship.

The second game will feature No. 7 FIU (31-25) against No. 2 seed Old Dominion at 12:30 p.m. CT.  The Panthers won five of their final seven conference games and enter the C-USA Championship with their highest regular season win total since 2012.  The Monarchs won eight of 10 conference series’ this spring and own their best win total since 2006.  The Monarchs won two-of-three games in a high-scoring series two weekends ago between the schools.

Top-seeded Southern Miss (44-12) will look to defend its tournament title and become the ninth team in league history to win an outright regular season title and a postseason tournament crown in the same year.  The Golden Eagles will play the 4 p.m. CT game, immediately re-matching with No. 8 seed UTSA (28-26).  Southern Miss took all three games in San Antonio over the weekend, scoring 30 runs in Friday’s doubleheader sweep.

Opening day action will conclude with No. 4 Charlotte (32-22) taking on No. 5 Louisiana Tech (36-18).  The 49ers closed out the season with a series sweep at Marshall, giving them 18 victories in C-USA play, marking the most league wins in the league since 1998.  Louisiana Tech owns the second-best winning percentage in the league as it seeks back-to-back NCAA Tournament trips for the first time since 1986-87.  Charlotte won two-of-three games from Louisiana Tech back in the second week of conference play in late March.


Background on the C-USA lineup, tournament

Conference USA is the No. 6-ranked baseball conference this season.  The entire field is ranked among the top 100 in the RPI, with seven of the eight placing in the top 78.  Five of the eight schools have been nationally-ranked this season, with Southern Miss (15) and Old Dominion (25) currently listed in the rankings.

The First, A National Banking Association 2017 Conference USA Championship returns to a neutral site for the first time since 2012 and just the sixth time in the league’s history.  Three-year old MGM Park will be the host venue of the league’s 22nd championship.  The Championship Game on Sunday, May 28 will be nationally-televised by CBS Sports Network, while all other games will be available on ESPN3 and the Watch ESPN app.

Tickets are on sale now and available by calling the MGM Park box office (877-344-2174) or through TicketFly.com.
Game Schedule
Wednesday, May 24 (available on ESPN3)
Game 1: (6) Rice vs. (3) Florida Atlantic – 9 a.m.
Game 2: (7) FIU vs. (2) Old Dominion – 12:30 p.m.
Game 3: (8) UTSA (1) Southern Miss – 4 p.m.
Game 4: (5) Louisiana Tech vs. (4) Charlotte – 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, May 25 (available on ESPN3)
Game 5: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 – 9 a.m.
Game 6: Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4 – 12:30 p.m.
Game 7: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 – 4 p.m. 
Game 8: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 – 7:30 p.m.
Friday, May 26 (available on ESPN3)
Game 9: Winner Game 5 vs. Loser game 7 – 3 p.m.
Game 10: Winner Game 6 vs. Loser game 8 – 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 27 (available on ESPN3)
Game 11: Winner Game 7 vs. Winner game 9 – 9 a.m.
Game 12: Winner Game 8 vs. Winner game 10 – 12:30 p.m.
Game 13: Same teams as Game 11 – 4 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 14: Same teams as Game 12 – 7:30 p.m. (if necessary)
Sunday, May 28 (televised by CBS Sports Network)
Championship Game  – 1 p.m.


Conference USA news and notes

Your video welcome: To learn more about Biloxi, see the “We are Biloxi” video by clicking here.

The bracket: To see the tournament bracket for the Conference USA baseball championship, click here.

In-depth stats: Want to know which teams to watch,. and the best players on each team? Conference USA has assembled exhaustive rundowns on each team. To view the team-by-team stats for the eight squads in the C-USA tournament, click here.

Hear all about it: Tim Bennett, the head of Overtime Sports, which has been organizing MGM Park’s hosting of the tournament, speaks about Conference USA in the “City Desk” podcast. To listen to the program, click here.