For the eighth time in their nine years as a member of Conference USA, Rice has won at least a share of the league's regular season crown, taking its sixth outright title. The Owls will be the No.1 seed at the 2014 C-USA Championship at Pete Taylor Park in Hattiesburg, Miss., May 21-25. For Rice (37-17), it marks the 19th consecutive season that the Owls have won a conference regular season or tournament championship, dating back to 1995, the final year of the Southwest Conference.
The Championship will feature the top eight teams in regular-season league play and the format returns to two double-elimination brackets, with a single-elimination championship game. This year's tournament marks the first time in league history that all eight participating teams have won 30 or more games.
The tournament will begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday when No. 5 seed Old Dominion (33-21) faces No. 4 seed Middle Tennessee (30-25). The Blue Raiders won two-of-three from the Monarchs in Murfreesboro, Tenn., in late April, giving them the edge in the tie-breaker between the schools.
Top-seeded Rice will open up against No. 8 seed FIU (36-18) at 12:30 p.m. CT. The Owls swept a three-game series from the Panthers in Miami in March. Rice owns a 23-7 all-time record in the C-USA Championship.
UAB (35-19) is the No. 2 seed, its lowest seed in 19 years as a member of C-USA, and the Blazers will play the 4 p.m. CT game against No. 7 seed UTSA (32-24). UAB, which won the tournament in 2012, did not meet UTSA during the regular season.
Host Southern Miss (32-23) is the No. 3 seed and the Golden Eagles will begin tournament play in the 7:30 p.m. CT game vs. No. 6 seed East Carolina (32-24). The two teams met in Hattiesburg just two weeks ago, with The Pirates taking the final two games of the series after the Golden Eagles grabbed the opener. This will mark the fifth time in six years that the two clubs squared off in the C-USA Championship.
Wednesday, May 21
Game 1 (5) Old Dominion vs. (4) Middle Tennessee 9:00a
Game 2 (8) FIU vs. (1) Rice 12:30p
Game 3 (7) UTSA vs. (2) UAB 4:00p
Game 4 (6) East Carolina vs. (3) Southern Miss 7:30p
Thursday, May 22
Game 5 Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 9:00a
Game 6 Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4 12:30p
Game 7 Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 4:00p
Game 8 Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 7:30p
Friday, May 23
Game 9 Winner Game 5 vs. Winner game 6 3:00p
Game 10 Loser Game 7 vs. Loser game 8 6:30p
Saturday, May 24
Game 11 Winner Game 7 vs. Winner game 9 9:00a
Game 12 Winner Game 8 vs. Winner game 10 12:30p
Game 13 Same teams as Game 11 4:00p (if necessary)
Game 14 Same teams as Game 12 7:30p (if necessary)
Sunday, May 25 (televised by CBS Sports Network)
Championship Game 1:00p
All Times Central
Each game of the championship from Wednesday through Saturday will be streamed live on the C-USA Digital Network. The championship game of the tournament on Sunday, May 25 will be televised live by CBS Sports Network, beginning at 1 p.m. CDT. The tournament champion receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship. Rice is the defending tournament champion.
The 2014 Conference USA Championship marks a return to Hattiesburg, Miss. for the fourth time in the league's history. Southern Miss also hosted the 2009, 2005 and 1996 C-USA Championships at Pete Taylor Park.
Tickets for the championship are available via SouthernMissTickets.com.