C-USA baseball tourney begins Wednesday at MGM
The 2018 Conference USA Baseball Championship begins five days of play Wednesday at MGM Park, with No. 1 seed Southern Miss again leading the contingent of C-USA's top eight teams in the tournament.
Last year's championship finale at MGM Park, where the Rice Owls edged Southern Miss 5-4, set a Conference USA tournament attendance record, with 5,216 attending the game. The game was also nationally televised by the CBS Sports Network.
Southern Miss this season won its fifth outright regular season Conference USA title and second in a row, making the No. 13 Golden Eagles the No. 1 seed at the championship, presented by The First.
Southern Miss (39-15 overall) won eight of its 10 conference series'- with one tie — and finished with a 23-6 record in league play, becoming the first team in C-USA history to win 23 conference games or more in back-to-back seasons.
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. Rice is the defending champion.
The tournament will begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday when No. 6 seed FIU (26-26) faces No. 3 seed Florida Atlantic (36-15-1). These south Florida rivals split the two regular season games between the clubs in Miami during the first weekend in May. The Owls finished the regular season on a four-game winning streak, while the Panthers closed with victories in five of their last six outings.
The second game will feature No. 7 Rice (24-29-2) against No. 2 seed Louisiana Tech (38-18) at 12:30 p.m. This will be the final Conference USA Championship for Owls Hall of Fame head coach Wayne Graham, who has led Rice to seven C-USA tournament titles. The Bulldogs, picked to finish seventh in the preseason, won eight of their 10 conference series' to earn a second place showing in the final regular season standings.
Top-seeded Southern Miss will look to become the ninth team in league history to win an outright regular season title and a postseason tournament crown in the same year and the first since Rice in 2014. The Golden Eagles will play the 4 p.m. game, matching up with No. 8 seed UAB (21-31). Southern Miss took all three games in the regular season meetings in Birmingham in April.
Opening day action will conclude with No. 4 Charlotte (31-22) taking on No. 5 UTSA (31-22). These teams just finished the regular season against each other, with the Roadrunners taking two-of-three in San Antonio. This is the second straight year that UTSA's opening round opponent is the same team it played to close out the regular season and it is the second straight year that Charlotte is the No. 4 seed.
The 2018 C-USA Championship is being played at a neutral site for the second year in a row and the seventh time in the league's history. Four-year-old MGM Park, a city-owned minor-league ballpark and entertainment facility in downtown Biloxi, will be the host venue of the league's 23rd championship. The Championship Game on Sunday 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 (available on ESPN3)
Game 1 (6) FIU vs. (3) Florida Atlantic 9 a.m.
Game 2 (7) Rice vs. (2) Louisiana Tech 12:30 p.m.
Game 3 (8) UAB vs. (1) Southern Miss 4 p.m.
Game 4 (5) UTSA vs. (4) Charlotte 7:30 p.m.Thursday (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 (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 (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 27 (televised by CBS Sports Network)
Championship Game 1 p.m.