Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
Conference play is underway and a couple of teams got off to unexpected starts. We'll take a look at how that affected this list as we rundown the Conference USA Basketball Power Rankings.
12. Rice Owls (3-11, 0-1) RPI: 335, SOS: 251, Last: (L) vs. Southern Miss, Up Next: @ Tulsa
After giving Texas a game for about 30 minutes just about two weeks ago, the Owls have now been blown out in two straight contests. First, on the road, Harvard dropped them by 30, then USM strolled away with a 23 point win in Houston. Up next, they'll hit the road to take on Tulsa before returning home to play Memphis. Looking at the schedule, their only opportunity for a win in the near future may be against New Orleans on the 19th.
11. UAB Blazers (8-8, 0-1) RPI: 140, SOS: 92, Last: (L) @ UCF, Up Next: vs. Memphis
The Blazers had a couple of opportunities to pick up a much needed quality win over the last week, but they failed to do so. First, they lost at Dayton by 7, then they fell at UCF by 16. At this point, its fairly hard to get a good read on this team. They're inconsistent as can be, but still seem like a talented team that no one should overlook. Up next, they've got Memphis at home before taking a trip to Hattiesburg to face Southern Miss.
10. East Carolina Pirates (9-5, 0-1) RPI: 174, SOS: 172, Last: (L) @ Memphis, Up Next: vs. UCF
The Pirates have alternated wins and losses over the last 10 contests, with two of their five wins in that stretch coming against non division I opponents. Most recently, they fell at Memphis by 13. They were actually down by as many as 27 in that game before fighting back to make the final score look respectable. In my own opinion, this team is under performing. But, as long as they continue to do so, they'll find themselves near the bottom of this list. Up next, they've got UCF.
9. SMU Mustangs (10-7, 0-2) RPI: 190, SOS: 266, Last: (L) @ Houston, Up Next: vs. Tulane
The Mustangs continue to slide, as they have now lost six of their last eight since starting the season 8-1. In conference play they've lost to both Tulsa and Houston, in two games that came down to the wire. At this point, they're just not winning the close games. They've now got a couple of tough matchups at home against Tulane and Southern Miss. If they're not able to pick up a win in at least one of those, they'll be put in a real deep hole.
8. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (9-7, 1-1) RPI: 122, SOS: 140, Last: (L) @ Marshall, Up Next: vs. Rice
The Golden Hurricane opened up conference play with a couple of road games; first at SMU, then at Marshall. They were able to hold on for the win at SMU, but were blown out against Marshall. This just isn't a very explosive team, and it shows when they go up against competition that can score points. They now return home for a pair of contests against Rice and UTEP. They should be able to pick up the win against Rice, but the Miners will be a big test for them.
7. Marshall Thundering Herd (8-8, 1-0) RPI: 244, SOS: 243, Last: (W) vs. Tulsa, Up Next: @ UTEP
The Herd made somewhat of a miraculous return to form as they whooped on Tulsa in their Conference USA opener. After struggling against the likes of Delaware State and Ohio, they nearly ran Tulsa out of the building, leading by as many as 29 before the Hurricane made the final score look a little more respectable. With Kane back, if the Herd can continue to play like this, they'll be one to keep an eye in C-USA. They'll have their work cut out for themselves next though as they head to El Paso to take on UTEP.
6. Tulane Green Wave (12-4, 0-1) RPI: 161, SOS: 318, Last: (L) vs. UTEP, Up Next: @ SMU
After taking the top spot in last week's rankings the Wave have a long fall down to sixth following their home loss to UTEP. Granted, the Miners are coming on at the right time, but home court is something that must be protected in conference play especially by the "top team". Tulane is still one to look out for, but they'll have to pick up a big win to two get themselves back into the contender conversation. Up next, they'll have Tulsa at home.
5. Central Florida Knights (11-4, 1-0) RPI: 121, SOS: 180, Last: (W) vs. UAB, Up Next: @ ECU
The Knights had little trouble disposing of UAB in their conference opener, winning by 16 on their home floor. The loss against South Florida 10 days ago is still a bit of concern, but this team is shaping up to be one of the better teams in this league, despite the offseason issues. Up next, they've got road trips to ECU and Houston. If they can win those two, they should see themselves continue to move up this list.
4. Southern Miss. Golden Eagles (12-4, 1-0) RPI: 71, SOS: 203, Last: (W) @ Rice, Up Next: vs. Houston
The Golden Eagles went on the road to face a struggling Rice team on Wednesday, and they came away with the easy victory, 75-52. They still haven't picked up that high quality win that would elevate them above the fourth spot, but there is no question that this is one of the best teams in C-USA. Up next, they'll take on Houston at home. A win there should at least bring them into third.
3. Houston Cougars (12-2, 1-0) RPI: 195, SOS: 347, Last: (W) vs. SMU, Up Next: @ ECU
The Cougars continue to pad that record, as they dropped SMU 78-67 in their conference opener, giving them 12 wins on the season. Yes, their schedule has been soft, to say the least, but they continue to beat the opponents that are put in front of them. They'll be tested next though as they head to Hattiesburg for a date with Southern Miss. If they can pick the win there, they'll solidify themselves in the top tier of C-USA.
2. UTEP Miners (7-6, 1-0) RPI: 59, SOS: 5, Last: (W) @ Tulane, Up Next: vs. Marshall
The Miners got back on the winning track Wednesday, dropping Tulane in New Orleans 66-57. There's no question that the tough non conference schedule is paying off as this team is starting to gel at just the right time. Up next, they'll have a tough out as Marshall will come to El Paso to visit the Don, but a win there would further justify this ranking. Either way, this team is not one to be overlooked in C-USA, no matter who or where they are playing.
1. Memphis Tigers (11-3, 1-0) RPI: 57, SOS: 78, Last: (W) vs. ECU, Up Next: @ UAB
The Tigers reclaim the top spot in Conference USA after their big road win at Tennessee, and the dismantling of ECU in the conference opener. They jumped out to a 32-9 lead in that game, and never looked back. While they deserve the top spot this week, they haven't separated themselves from the rest of the pack. They'll still need a few more big wins to do that. Up next, they've got road games at UAB and Rice.