Conference USA Championship: Who Gets The Automatic Bid?

Doug Upstone

Saturday, March 10, 2018 2:34 PM UTC

Saturday, Mar. 10, 2018 2:34 PM UTC

The C-USA final is set, and it will be televised on the CBS Sports Network at 8:30 ET Saturday from Frisco, Texas. The quality of this final is outstanding with two excellent teams from a top-heavy conference.

Marshall Thundering Herd vs. Western Kentucky HilltoppersFree Basketball Pick: WKUBest Line Offered: Heritage

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For those you who are bettors, this Marshall vs. Western Kentucky clash brings back thoughts of a few very entertaining football games a couple of seasons ago. For tonight, we trade the Astroturf for the hardwood in this matchup.

Western Kentucky should be the favorite on the NCAA basketball odds as they defeated Marshall twice in January. Can the Thundering Herd turn the tables and snag the automatic bid? Or are the Hilltoppers really that: The team sitting atop Conference USA?

Marshall Plays Like a Thundering Herd

Marshall (23-10) was the fourth seed and has knocked off a good UTSA squad 95-81 as seven-point favorites and Cinderella wannabe Southern Miss 85-75 (-7.5). The Thundering Herd's path was made easier by the Golden Eagles' stunning upset of top-seeded Middle Tennessee State in OT in the quarterfinals.

However, don't think Marshall is a chump, as this team averages a notch under 85 points a game and they keep the pressure on opposing defenses by making shots inside and outside the arc. As a team, the Herd connect on 10 threes a game and 45 percent of their attempts are from three-point land. This opens up the floor to drive to the basket for Marshall, and they make over 47 percent of all shots.

Anyone who has been making NCAA basketball picks all season is well aware the Thundering Herd are 'money' having a 19-11 spread record this season.

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Get all the details of Saturday's @ConferenceUSA Championship final between the Hilltoppers and Marshall! #GoTopshttps://t.co/2wYeAnoF1s

— #SoldOutDiddle (@WKUBasketball) March 10, 2018
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Western Kentucky Is Very Efficient

The Hilltoppers (24-9, 20-11 ATS) enter this conflict as the No. 2 seed and appear to have rallied. Western Kentucky entered March and faced Middle Tennessee and was blasted 82-64 and was a no-show days later in Birmingham, routed by UAB 101-73.

But first-year veteran coach Rick Stansbury convinced his team this a new season, and they destroyed the Blazers by 28 in the quick turnaround and won a defensive struggle with Old Dominion on Friday, 57-49, to move to this juncture.

That is part of Western Kentucky's strength, having the ability to adapt and win a game when they are nowhere close to their almost 80 point average. By taking good shots and being able to figure out and what is needed, the 'Toppers effectively find a way to play their best.

Your C-USA Champion and Spread Winner

These combatants have met twice. The first confrontation was in West Virginia and Marshall had no answers for the Hilltoppers and fell 112-87 as 1.5-point home underdogs. Exactly three weeks later in the Bluegrass State, the Thundering Herd narrowed the gap but still lost 85-74 as a 10.5-point road pooch.

Though the story goes it is hard to beat the same team three times in the same season, Western Kentucky can match points with Marshall and plays better defense, which why they will win and cover.

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