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Men’s preview: Conference USA

Editor’s note: College golf is dormant in January, so let Golfweek’s annual conference preview series serve as a bridge to the spring season. Here you’ll find fall highlights and spring details for each conference with an automatic qualifying spot in the postseason. The series (read all stories here) runs from Jan. 12 to Feb. 11.

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Conference USA

Conference championship: April 26-29, Texarkana (Ark.) CC

Defending champion: Rice

Conference members (Golfweek ranking in parentheses): Alabama-Birmingham (35), Charlotte (66), North Texas (85), Texas-San Antonio (93), Louisiana Tech (98), Southern Miss (106), Old Dominion (112), Texas-El Paso (137), Rice (146), Marshall (148), Western Kentucky (177), Middle Tennessee State (179), Florida Atlantic (263).

Conference favorite: Alabama-Birmingham. The Blazers didn’t place better than third during the fall, but they still finished as the conference’s highest-ranked team while also boasting three players ranked No. 110 or better by Golfweek. But the conference title won’t come down to stroke play as C-USA will implement match play at the conference championship (54 holes of stroke play; top four team advance to match play; winner earns automatic bid).

Could challenge: Charlotte. The 49ers have benefited nicely from the arrival of Auburn transfer Victor Wiggins, who finished the fall ranked 65th by Golfweek.

Sleeper: North Texas. The Mean Green capped the fall with a convincing victory at the Jim Rivers Intercollegiate. Senior Juan Munoz also closed the fall strong, finishing T-5 and T-1 in his last two events.

Midseason All-Conference team: Victor Wiggins, Charlotte (sophomore); Paul Dunne, Alabama-Birmingham (senior); Martin Rohwer, Alabama-Birmingham (junior); Lee Hodges, Alabama-Birmingham (freshman); Victor Lange, Louisiana Tech (junior)

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