Although our Houston teams haven't performed well this season, they can always redeem themselves with a strong conference tournament. A run at the NCAA's would certainly require either the Rice Owls or Houston Cougars to win the tournament, but an impressive showing by either school could land them in the National Invitational Tournament or, more likely, the CBI. The Cougars did win this tournament last year despite a lackluster regular season, but lackluster is not quite the same as horrific.
Both Houston and Rice will play on Day one of the tournament. #11 seed Houston has the pleasure of facing #6 seed Marshall Thundering Herd at 5:30 PM on Wednesday. #10 Rice will play against the #7 SMU Mustangs at 8:00 PM, the same day. The Cougars and Owls are in the lower bracket, meaning that if the Cougars advance, they'd face the #3 UTEP Miners, and if the Owls advance, they'd face the #2 Tulsa Golden Hurricane.
Here's how the bracket looks. All times are CST, though the games will be played in El Paso, which is in the Mountain time zone.
#8 East Carolina Pirates vs. #9 Central Florida Knights -- 12 PM
#5 Southern Miss. Golden Eagles vs. #12 Tulane Green Wave -- 2:30 PM
#11 Houston vs. #6 Marshall -- 5:30 PM
#10 Rice vs. #7 SMU -- 8:00 PM
Thursday (all games from here to Friday available on CBS College Sports)
Winner of UAB-TBD vs. winner of Memphis-TBD -- 3:00 PM
Winner of UTEP-TBD vs. winner of Tulsa-TBD -- 5:30 PM
Championship -- 10:30 AM, CBS
For more coverage, check out our lone CUSA site on SB Nation, UTEP's Miner Rush.