Four teams in Conference USA still remain alive as possible contenders for at large bids to the NCAA tournament. Memphis and UAB hampered their chances a bit by dropping games last week, while Southern Miss continued to improve its stock. UTEP didn't really move much in either direction as its Wednesday game was postponed, and it took care of Rice on the road on Saturday. Here is a look at the individual resumes of these teams, and their chances of making the big dance.
1.) UAB Blazers (16-6, 6-3) RPI: 35, SOS: 51, Last 10: 6-4, Pomeroy: 62, Sagarin: 60
On paper, the Blazers have the best resume of these four teams. Their RPI and SOS are great, and they are 5-5 vs. the RPI top 100. They've still got road games at Marshall, Memphis, Houston, and USM, so the biggest question will be how they fare down the stretch. The Blazers have four top 100 games left on their schedule. If they win them all, they'll probably secure a bid to the tourney, but lose any at they'll be at the mercy of the selection committee.
OUTLOOK: As said in a previous bubble watch, it may come down to just winning a game or two in the conference tourney. If the tournament started today, the Blazers would probably make the cut as one of the last teams in the tournament.
2.) Memphis Tigers (17-6, 5-3) RPI: 47, SOS: 65, Last 10: 6-4, Pomeroy: 89, Sagarin: 71
Memphis definitely has one thing going for them, their name. The Tigers didn't do themselves any favors dropping recent games at Marshall, and at home against Tulsa, but at least they picked up a huge "neutral court" game against Gonzaga. That likely knocked the Zags off the bubble, and believe me we need all the help we can get. The Tigers are 2-3 vs the RPI top 50, and 6-5 vs the top 100. They've still got four top 100 games left, and one would think that 9 top 100 wins would have to do the trick.
OUTLOOK: All season it has seemed as though the national media has been stuck on Memphis. That perception will certainly help come selection Sunday. They just can't lose any bad games down the stretch and they should be in. However, if the tournament started today I think they would be one of the first teams out of the tournament.
3.) Southern Miss Golden Eagles (16-5, 7-3) RPI: 46, SOS: 115, Last 10: 7-3, Pomeroy: 74, Sagarin: 56
The Golden Eagles played pretty inconsistent for the first half of the season, but are making a late push for an at large bid. The SOS is a little soft, but they are 4-4 vs the RPI top 100, and still have 5 top 100 games left on the schedule. Eight top 100 wins should at least get them in the conversation, while nine should put them in the tourney.
OUTLOOK: The win at CAL will help a lot, but as of right now its not enough to get them in the tournament. They've really got to play strong down the stretch to have any kind of chance. If the tournament started today, they're probably 8-10 teams outside of the tourney.
4.) UTEP Miners (17-5, 6-2) RPI: 64, SOS: 154, Last 10: 8-2, Pomeroy: 61, Sagarin: 68
Pretty sad if you're a Miner fan, but the best team in Conference USA has a very weak resume. The RPI and SOS numbers will definitely not get it done. The Miners are only 3-3 vs the top 100 RPI, and have four top 100 games left. It goes without saying that the Miners need to win all four of those. At the same time they cannot afford to have any more bad losses, so its pretty much time to win out.
OUTLOOK: The Miners just don't have the numbers, or the marquee wins. They are one of the best, if not the best team in C-USA, and should definitely be one of the first to represent the conference in the tournament, but its still about your resume. Right now it doesn't look like they'll have enough to get in. If they tournament started today they are probably 10-12 teams out of the tournament.
The fact is that there are quite a few solid teams in Conference USA that could probably win a game or two in the NCAA tournament. However, you've still got to build a resume, and for Southern Miss and UTEP its just not there yet. There's still time left in the season, but you just can't afford to give anything away at this point. As of right now, we're considered by most to be a one bid league. Its going to take some solid play down the stretch by these four teams to change that.
*Teams' records are versus division 1 opponents only, as the selection committee does not take other wins into consideration.