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Conference USA Tournament bracket 2017: Middle Tennessee looks to get back to the dance

Here’s who can stop the Blue Raiders

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Middle Tennessee State vs Syracuse Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Conference USA regular season wrapped up on Saturday and we finally have a bracket for the Conference USA Tournament. Middle Tennessee State is the 1 seed and overwhelming favorite, but that doesn’t mean the Blue Raiders can coast to the title.

Here’s the road to the championship:

Top Half

Much like last season when top-seeded UAB was knocked out in the quarterfinals, the top portion of the bracket is loaded. In order for Middle Tennessee to get to the championship game, it will have to pass through one of the two hottest teams in Conference USA in the semifinals — either UTEP or Rice. Keep in mind the Miners were the Blue Raiders’ only conference loss this season. One would think the Blue Raiders will have little trouble with their quarterfinal matchup of either Western Kentucky, who they swept by double digits in each game this season, and UTSA who they beat easily in San Antonio.

Bottom Half

The bottom portion of the bracket is certainly no cake walk either, with the likes of tournament host UAB and unpredictable Marshall in the first group of games on Wednesday. It’s hard to make the claim that UAB is the dark horse here, given how Jekyll and Hyde the Blazers have been the entire season. However, the Blazers have a favorable bracket to make a postseason run, as they’d play their first two games against teams they’ve already beaten this season. I’m going to have to go with Marshall as a dark horse in this bracket, as the Thundering Herd can literally “shoot their shot” all the way to the tournament if they get hot.

Look for our game-by-game breakdowns of all the matchups in the early part of the week.