Hilltoppers will play North Texas or FIU in C-USA quarterfinal

WKU head coach Rick Stansbury gives a thumbs up to a loud cheering crowd after defeating 15th-ranked Wisconsin 83-76 in Diddle Arena Dec. 29 in Bowling Green. Stansbury had coached WKU to wins over three Power 5 teams this year. 

Matt Stahl

After earning the number two seed in the Conference USA Tournament, the Hilltoppers will first take the court on Thursday in Frisco, Texas, against either seventh-seeded Florida International or 10th-seeded North Texas.

The Panthers and the Mean Green will play on Wednesday for the right to take on WKU. The Hilltoppers defeated North Texas on the road already this season, but fell to FIU at home.

This is the highest seed that the Hilltoppers have ever earned in the C-USA Tournament, beating their three seed from last season. It also ties the highest seed they have ever earned in any conference tournament, matching the seed they received in the 2014 Sun Belt tournament.

The Hilltoppers’ first game will be in the tournament quarterfinal, meaning they‘ll need to win three straight games to secure the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. 

That third game could come against Old Dominion, as the Monarchs are the one seed after winning the conference regular season title. ODU defeated WKU twice in the regular season. The Monarchs are the only team to beat WKU twice in the regular season this year. 

Regardless of opponent, WKU’s quarterfinal matchup will start at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday at The Star, the training home of the Dallas Cowboys. It will be available to watch on Stadium and WKU-PBS.

The winner of that quarterfinal matchup will play in the semifinal on Friday at 3 p.m. The semifinal will be available on the CBS Sports Network. 

Check out the full C-USA Tournament bracket below. 

Sports Editor Matt Stahl can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @mattstahl97.