Last week was an odd week here in El Paso. The cold weather was so severe that its effects are felt into this week. The Miners were unable to play their game in the Don against UCF, but that didn't keep them from regaining possession of first place in conference. The same Golden Hurricane that knocked off the Miners turned around and beat Memphis at the FedEx forum, while UAB lost at home to Southern Miss. Saturday saw UTEP, UAB, and Memphis get back on track while Tulsa and Southern Miss continued to play solid basketball. Memphis picked up a huge win for the conference over fellow bubble team Gonzaga, and UCF continued going the wrong way, extending its losing streak to 7 games after losing at East Carolina. This week will undoubtedly bring some more great competition, here are the games of the week.
5.) Tulsa (13-10, 6-3) @ Central Florida (14-7, 1-7) 7:00 p.m. et, Saturday February 12th.
The Golden Hurricane is absolutely rolling right now. They've won three in a row, including over UTEP, and at Memphis. They have put themselves a half game out of first place in conference and look to solidify their place with some very winnable games down the stretch. UCF has been absolutely horrendous for almost a month now. The Knights have lost seven in a row, and take on Memphis on Wednesday before this meeting with Tulsa.
OUTLOOK: The Knights will end their streak at 8, UCF takes it 68-62.
4.) Marshall (15-8, 3-5) @ East Carolina (13-10, 5-4) 5:00 p.m. et, Saturday February 12th.
The Thundering Herd continued its inconsistent campaign last week with a win over Houston and a loss to USM. The Herd takes on UAB on Wednesday before this one, so its a coin flip as to which one they'll win. ECU lost last week at SMU, before returning home to defeat UCF. The Pirates have been competitive all season, but have just been unable to put any kind of streak together.
OUTLOOK: The Pirates sneak away with one, 73-70.
3.) Southern Methodist (14-8, 5-3) @ UTEP (18-5, 6-2) 9:05 p.m. et, Saturday February 12th.
The Miners had their game with UCF postponed after last week's weather and power outages, then flew to Houston on Friday, and dropped the Rice Owls on Saturday 59-53. The Miners are all alone in first place, and will look to keep that going with a win. SMU is one of the hottest team in C-USA winning four straight contests. They take on Tulane at home on Wednesday before flying to El Paso, so that win streak should be at five by Saturday.
OUTLOOK: The Miners are too talented, and too experienced to give this one away at home, Miners 75-66.
2.) UAB (16-6, 6-3) @ Marshall (15-8, 3-5) 7:00 p.m. et, Wednesday February 9th.
The Blazers dropped a tough one last week at the hands of the emerging Southern Miss Golden Eagles, before winning at Tulane on Saturday. Marshall, again, continued its inconsistency splitting its games last week to drop them back into 8th in conference. The first match between these two in Birmingham was a good one, this should be no different.
OUTLOOK: The Blazers stumble in Huntington, Herd 71-65.
1.) Southern Miss (18-5, 7-3) @ Memphis (17-6, 5-3) 6:00 p.m. et, Saturday February 12th. ESPN2
This one by far is the game of the week. The Golden Eagles have won four straight and can take over the reigns in C-USA as they play both Memphis and UTEP in their next two games. They are finally playing the basketball that we all knew they could. Memphis seemed to be back on track after it had won four straight, but then they dropped two in a row before finally picking up a much needed win over Gonzaga on Saturday. Winner of this one has a real good shot to win the league.
OUTLOOK: Memphis doesn't lose often on its home court, and I can't see it happening again, Tigers 75-74.
The conference race is still wide open. Six teams are within a game of first place, and a seventh is a game and a half back. This week is a big week for a couple of teams, namely Southern Miss, UAB, and Memphis. If any of those three can go unscathed this week they may emerge as the new favorite. Of course we can't forget about UTEP. The reigning C-USA champ, is the lone team in the league with only two losses, and even though they've got another week with one game, you can never forget about the Miners. Buckle up, it should be a bumpy ride.