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2019 CUSA Basketball Tournament: Day Two

Day Two of the conference tournament is here.

The women tip-off at 11am, with hosts North Texas playing (1) Rice on Court A with TV on Stadium. (4) WKU faces (5) ODU at 11:30a on Court B on ESPN+.

In the afternoon session, it is (2) UAB vs (7) Charlotte at 1:30p Court A on Stadium. (3) Middle vs (11) UTEP at 2pm on Court B on ESPN+.

The men begin day two of their tournament in the evening session. We will see all top four seeds in action for the first time. Last year top-seeded MTSU lost to Southern Miss, but the rest of the seeded teams won relatively easily.

Even with all the lower seeds playing yesterday, the top four seeds are not all favored.

(1) ODU vs (8) LA Tech — ODU -3
(4) UTSA vs (5) UAB — Pick ’em

(2) WKU vs (10) North Texas — WKU -3.5
(3) USM vs (6) Marshall — Not available

ODU vs Louisiana Tech

These teams played only once in the regular season and the Monarchs squeaked out a win late after Tech nearly stole a win in Hampton Roads. Tech’s Amorie Archibald, DaQuan Bracey, and Anthony Duruji scored in double-figures. ODU’s BJ Stith, newly crowned CUSA Player of the Year, Xavier Green, Ahmad Caver, and Dajour Dickens scored in double-figures.

What to Watch For:

These team both have good defenses. ODU is rested, but that could also mean they are not necessarily ready for this tournament intensity. Tech exhausted a lot of energy in their comeback vs FAU, but they may be more ready to play early.

Both teams like to take their time on offense. Neither is particularly great shooting the ball but ODU is the best offensive rebounding team in the league.

Players to Watch

Tech’s G DaQuan Bracey is the heartbeat of the team. He was the only player doing any scoring for Tech early against the Owls and that kept them in the game before he was joined by F Anthony Duruji and Amorie Archibald late.

ODU’s Ahmad Caver and BJ Stith each had arguments for POY honors although that went to Stith. Both need to play well in this tournament for the Monarchs to win.

UTSA vs UAB

These teams split their two games with each winning on their home floor. Guards Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace scored a combined 55 in the first meeting in Birmingham while all everyone that played more than 20m in for UAB scored in double figures. UAB rode a big middle 20 minutes (late first half, early second half) to blow the thing open.

In the second meeting UTSA led by as many as 14 early in the 2nd half, and rode that to victory in San Antonio. UAB closed late but lost by 6.

What to Watch For:

UAB escaped Middle yesterday, and UTSA rested. The Roadrunners are true to their name, and play at a fast pace and shoot a lot of threes. UAB plays much more deliberately and relies on 2-point shots to a greater degree. Both squads are good at what they do and neither turns the ball over.

This is about the most even matchup of the day, with contrasting styles to boot.

Players to Watch

UTSA’s Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace are huge 1-2 punches. Both like to shoot a ton of threes, including in transition. Keaton is three-inches taller and can get to the basket and finish a little better than Jackson, who likes to try Trae Young/Steph Curry distance. Both are great and can go for 40+, as they have this season.

UAB is led by Zack Bryant who is always good for about 14 points and a steal or two. Lewis Sullivan has been great recently, and led the Blazers with 17 yesterday against Middle.

WKU vs North Texas

WKU dominated early in Denton back in early February. North Texas had the beginning of their month-long shooting woes, while WKU’s Charles Bassey and Taveion Hollingsworth were great.

NT made a run late but the score ws not really indicative of how close the game actually was.

What to Watch For:

These are two of the better defenses in the league — NT is 1st and WKU 4th according to kenpom.com. WKU has one of the most efficient offenses while NT has struggled mightily. Yesterday, NT came out hitting everything led by F Zach Simmons, who dominated inside going 7-7 against FIU’s big men.

Each time plays deliberately, but NT fouls a bit too much and will put WKU at the line where they shoot well.

Players to Watch

NT’s G Ryan Woolridge is closer to full health and G Umoja Gibson hit 7 threes yesterday against FIU. F Zach Simmons will have his hands full against Charles Bassey.

WKU’s Bassey is NBA-level. The DPOY is a force inside and will be the defensive anchor. Josh Anderson is a walking highlight reel. The rest of this roster is extremely talented.

Southern Miss vs Marshall

Famously, USM blew out Marshall by 50 in Hattiesburg this season. That was right in the middle of a 1-7 span for the Herd and was the lowest point of the year. Since mid-February however, Jon Elmore and company have won six-straight including their first round matchup over Rice by 17.

Southern Miss rode that Marshall win to six-straight wins to put them in the top pod. They lost to UAB and Western before beating ODU and UTSA (handily).

What to Watch For:

Both offenses are incredible. Marshall’s defense is league-worst, however. Marshall shoots a ton of threes but makes them at a mid-pack rate. USM doesn’t soot as many, but hits them at a league-best rate (41%). The result is that both squads get about the same return.

Marshall has one of the best players in conference history, while USM probably has the deeper team overall.

Players to Watch

Marshall’s Jon Elmore is fun and exciting. He put up 32 and 6 assists yesterday. CJ Burks was quiet against Rice, but needs to be a major contributor for the Herd to repeat as tournament champs. Freshman Taevion Kinsey has been great, jumping out the gym to play a Clint Capela role on the pick-and-roll for Marshall. He’s bouncy, and that creates problems all over.

USM’s Cortez Edwards and Tyree Griffin are ballers. LaDavius Draine is shooting nearly 50% from distance. Edwards has been struggling recently, not having played well since about the UTEP game in mid-Feb. Draine has had multi-three pointer games in his last five, including 7 vs UTEP.

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