Three weeks into conference play, it still isn’t very clear as to where a lot of teams stand in C-USA- no team is undefeated and only one team is still without a win (ECU), while 12 of the 16 teams are within 2.5 games of first place. Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech have separated themselves as the clear favorites, but the second tier teams could all challenge for the conference tournament championship in El Paso come March. Here’s how this week’s rankings shape up for Conference USA:
1.) Southern Miss (18-3, 5-1)
Previously: #1 (-)
Last week: W @ ODU (75-60), W @ ECU (60-46)
This week: vs. Tulane
The Golden Eagles remain as the top team in this week’s power rankings after winning both game by double-digits on the road last week.
2.) Louisiana Tech (17-4, 5-1)
Previously: #2 (-)
Last week: W vs. Charlotte (80-60), W vs. Marshall (98-77)
This week: @ UTEP, @ UTSA
In the five conference wins for the Bulldogs, Louisiana Tech has outscored their opponents by an average margin of 24.6 points. Win or lose, Louisiana Tech has only had four of their twenty-one games decided by single-digits this season.
3.) UTEP (14-6, 4-1)
Previously: #4 (+1)
Last week: W vs. UTSA (81-62)
This week: vs. Louisiana Tech, vs. Rice
Although it’s a little early to hand out post-season awards, Tim Floyd is definitely in the running to win C-USA Coach of the Year thus far. After dropping their conference opener against Charlotte, the Miners have won their last four conference games by an average margin of 10 points.
4.) Middle Tennessee (13-7, 3-2)
Previously: #5 (+1)
Last week: L @ Tulsa (53-58), W @ North Texas (70-63)
This week: vs. ECU, vs. ODU
Losing on the road at Tulsa isn’t what Kermit Davis and his team was looking for, but it certainly isn’t a terrible loss.
5.) UAB (13-6, 2-3)
Previously: #6 (+1)
Last week: L @ North Texas (65-76), W @ Tulsa (70-63)
This week: vs. ODU, vs. ECU
UAB hasn’t had a conference record better than .500 all season, yet they always find themselves in the top 6 of our rankings. That could change if they don’t win both games next week to put them above .500.
6.) Tulsa (9-11, 4-2)
Previously: #7 (+1)
Last week: W vs. Middle Tennessee (58-53), L vs. UAB (63-70)
This week: vs. North Texas
Tulsa still has one of the better teams in this conference despite their sub-par .500 overall record. They’ll be able to get within a game of .500 this Saturday, though, with a home win over North Texas.
7.) Charlotte (12-7, 3-3)
Previously: #3 (-4)
Last week: L @ Louisiana Tech (60-80), L @ Rice (69-71)
This week: vs. FAU, vs. FIU
Charlotte joined its fellow North Carolina school, ECU, as the only C-USA teams to lose both of their conference games last week. The 49ers should still be expected to win both games at home this upcoming week; if not, this team could end up free falling into what would be a long second half of the season.
8.) Old Dominion (10-10, 4-1)
Previously: #8 (-)
Last week: L vs. Southern Miss (60-75), W vs. Tulane (70-64)
This week: @ UAB, @ Middle Tennessee
Southern Miss handed the Monarchs their first conference loss last Thursday and they rebounded well with a win over Tulane. Their games on the road this week will have a huge impact on whether they’re actually a contender or pretender in this up-and-down conference.
9.) Florida International (11-9, 3-2)
Previously: #9 (-)
Last week: W vs. FAU (66-57)
This week: @ Marshall, @ Charlotte
10.) North Texas (11-9, 2-4)
Previously: #10 (-)
Last week: W vs. UAB (76-65), L vs. Middle Tennessee (63-70)
This week: @ Tulsa
11.) Tulane (11-10, 3-3)
Previously: #11 (-)
Last week: W @ ECU (59-54), L @ ODU (64-70)
This week: @ Southern Miss
Tulane has gone 1-1 every week in conference play so far.
12.) Florida Atlantic (7-13, 2-3)
Previously: #12 (-)
Last week: W vs. Harvard (68-53), L @ FIU (57-66)
This week: @ Charlotte, @ Marshall
A convincing 15-point win against a solid Harvard team could have really sent the Owls in the right direction for the rest of conference play. After losing to their in-state conference rival, FAU will be looking to get back on track against a streaky Charlotte squad on Thursday.
13.) East Carolina (11-9, 0-5)
Previously: #13 (-)
Last week: L vs. Tulane (54-59), L vs. Southern Miss (46-60)
This week: @ Middle Tennessee, @ UAB
ECU has been tied or leading at halftime of all five of their conference games, which have all ended in losses for Jeff Lebo’s squad. The Pirates have been outscored 195-132 in the second half of conference games thus far.
14.) UTSA (6-12, 2-3)
Previously: #14 (-)
Last week: L @ UTEP (62-81)
This week: vs. Rice, vs. Louisiana Tech
After starting out conference play 2-0, the Roadrunners have dropped their last 3 conference games by an average of 18 points (to their credit, they were all road conference games).
15.) Marshall (7-14, 1-5)
Previously: #15 (-)
Last week: W @ Rice (73-63), L @ Louisiana Tech (77-98)
This week: vs. FIU, vs. FAU
Marshall got its first win in conference play last week in a game at Rice, but their season still continues to be a drag without their star player in Elijah Pittman.
16.) Rice (6-13, 1-5)
Previously: #16 (-)
Last week: L vs. Marshall (63-73), W vs. Charlotte (71-69)
This week: @ UTSA, @ UTEP
Rice ended its 8-game losing streak last Saturday with a 2-point home win over Charlotte, also grabbing their first conference win of the season. If the Owls can win in San Antonio this week, they should be able to finally climb out of the last spot in the conference.