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Conference USA Finals Preview

March 13, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

Conference USA Finals Preview

Preview by Zach Van Hart

No. 1 DePaul versus No. 3 Cincinnati
For the third-straight day, conference regular season co-champions will meet up in the C-USA tournament. This time it will be DePaul and Cincinnati and it will be for the tournament championship, as the two squads will meet at 11:45 a.m. at U.S. Bank Arena. Unlike the regular season, which witnessed a record five teams share the overall crown, there will only be one team that will claim itself tournament champs. The Bearcats will be looking for its fourth C-USA tournament title, while the Blue Demons have never won this tourney. This will be the third matchup between these two squads; they split the first two games with the home team winning both times. During its first two games of the tournament, DePaul’s big men have been dominant. Delonte Holland is in line to win tourney MVP honors with 40 points and sixteen rebounds during the first two games. He scored the game-winning free throws Friday and is giving great energy. Andre Brown and Quemont Greer have been just as impressive. Both finished with double-doubles against UAB.

Cincinnati is playing as balanced as it has all season. Four players scored between eight and twelve points Friday, while two different Bearcats led the team in scoring Thursday. They are also playing solid defense, evident by the Billikens’ 46 points during the semifinals. Cincinnati is especially dangerous when its three-point shooters start to get hot. With Nick Williams giving the team eleven points off the bench as shooting guard Friday, the Bearcats now have three reliable shooters from deep. Inside, Jason Maxiell and company will make life difficult for the Demons’ big men. On the outside, Sammy Meija and Drake Diener have not had great tournaments, but Diener is fresh off a seventeen-point outing against these same Bearcats last week. Holland will likely have a good game, as Armein Kirkland and James White are not great defenders, but Diener will have to make more shots if DePaul is to win. If Cincinnati makes its outside shots, it will be tough to beat. The last two times the C-USA tournament was played in Cincinnati, the Bearcats won. Expect to see the third Saturday.

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