There are only two days left until selection Sunday, and after a wild and crazy year in Conference USA only three teams are still alive in the race for at large bids. UAB had the best opportunity to grab an at large bid, but their tumble in the conference tourney quarterfinal may leave them on the outside looking in. Memphis, and UTEP are both seen as teams that are currently just outside the cut line, but both still have an opportunity to improve their resume with wins in the conference semifinals. Heading into Friday, here are the three teams's resumes.
UAB Blazers (22-8, 12-4) RPI: 30, SOS: 74, R/N Record: 9-6, Pomeroy: 57, Sagarin: 54,vs top 50: 0-1, vs top 100: 10-7.
Good Wins: VCU (51), Marhsall (52), at Marshall (52), UTEP (56)
Bad Losses: at Arizona St (157)
The Blazers were in good shape to make a push for an at large bid, but greatly hampered their chances by losing to ECU in the quarterfinal of the Conference USA tournament on Thursday. The biggest hole in the Blazer's resume is a lack of top 50 wins. Literally, they have 0. 10 wins vs teams ranked 50-100 helps quite a bit, but it doesn't make up for no top 50 wins. Also, they only have one bad loss, which is better than most bubble teams can say. A run to the championship almost certainly would have gotten them there, but they've put themselves in a real bad spot.
OUTLOOK: If they tournament started today, there is no doubt in my mind the Blazers are on the outside looking in. There is still time for the bubble picture to shift so things could change, but its not looking good. Almost anyone will say, UAB is in the dreaded "first four out".
Memphis Tigers (23-9, 10-6) RPI: 36, SOS: 59, R/N Record: 6-7, Pomeroy: 101, Sagarin: 75, vs top 50: 2-3, vs top 100: 11-7.
Good Wins: UAB (30), at UAB (30), Marshall (52), Gonzaga* (53)
Bad Losses: at Rice (178), at SMU (208)
The Tigers probably have the best at large resume of the three teams with their 2 top 50 wins, and 11 top 100 wins. The neutral court win over NCAA tourney team, and WCC tournament winner Gonzaga, is also a huge boost. They are just a little weighed down by their bad losses. A win over ECU today will send the Tigers to the championship game of the C-USA tourney, and might just be enough to get them in the Big Dance.
OUTLOOK: Memphis was on pace to be one of the field of 68, but after stumbling down the stretch, they've put themselves on the wrong side of the bubble. In the tournament started today, it would really be a coinflip, and it would only come down to how strong the committee thinks C-USA is. If the Tigers win today, and one or two teams lose, they should move into the "last four in".
UTEP Miners (23-8, 11-5) RPI: 56, SOS: 128, R/N Record: 6-6, Pomeroy: 66, Sagarin: 66, vs top 50: 1-2, vs top 100: 5-6.
Good Wins: Memphis (36), Marshall (52, Marshall (52), Michigan (55)
Bad Losses: Georgia Tech* (162), Pacific (190)
The biggest problem with the Miners resume, besides lack of top 50 wins, is just the overall lack of games versus quality opponents. The Miners only played 11 top 100 games, 12 including today's, compare to upwards of 20 for the other two at large contenders. The Miners are certainly playing the best ball of these three teams, and have played themselves back into the discussion, but there is certainly still work to do. A win today versus Tulsa is an absolute must, and winning the tournament would make the situation a lot better.
OUTLOOK: The Miners are creeping into most people's list of first 5 teams out or so. The good thing is they are still playing, and can still improve that. They are not in any comfortable shape as an at large candidate, but at least they have given themselves a chance. If the tournament started today, the Miners are somewhere between 3 to 7 teams outside of the tournament. Just go win this damn thing, and the only thing we'll be worrying about Sunday is where we'll be playing.
Conference USA has been a great league this year. It has been so competitive from top to bottom, and it has carried into the conference tournament. ECU has now made its way into the top 100 RPI, giving the conference 8 teams in the top 100. To say this conference deserves one bid is just absolute garbage. Still, our teams need to perform, and it continues today. The best situation for C-USA is for UTEP and Memphis to make the finals, but we'll see how that goes. Either way, this conference has picked up wins over WVU, Florida, Michigan, Gonzaga, Missouri St, VCU and many more. The teams have proven that this is a very deserving league.