It was another wild week in Conference USA as some games went down to the wire and others, well not so much. Let's go ahead and take a look at how that affected this week's Conference USA Power Rankings.
12. [5-0] Rice Owls (4-15, 0-5) RPI: 308, SOS: 154, Last: (L) @ Tulane, Up Next: vs. Houston
The Owls still haven't found a win in C-USA action, but they were certainly competitive this week in road losses to UCF and Tulane. You can see some improvement in the team, and that should translate into a win or two in conference play, but that just hasn't happened yet. This week they've got Houston and ECU at home.
11. [10-0] UAB Blazers (8-12, 0-5) RPI: 172, SOS: 72, Last: (L) @ Houston, Up Next: vs. UTEP
The Blazers are the only other C-USA team that is still winless in conference action. They had perhaps the toughest opening stretch of any C-USA team, and while it doesn't exactly get easier this week, I'd expect them to start picking up some wins pretty soon.
"At some point, the Blazers will win a game against one of the conference's better teams. They have just enough offensively gifted players to do so. Their schedule is brutal though. Home games against UTEP and Southern Miss this week will make it tough, but I wouldn't be too surprised if UAB picks up an upset at home against one of those two."
10. [15-0] SMU Mustangs (11-10, 1-5) RPI: 183, SOS: 190, Last: (L) @ UCF, Up Next: @ Marshall
The Mustangs just can't seem to get things going in the right direction. They've now lost 9 of 12, and own only one conference win, against Tulane. Last week they played only once, at UCF, and while they were tied with only 3 minutes to play, they just weren't able to close it out. This week they'll be at a very inconsistent Marshall team, then back home against Houston. They should have a chance to pick up one of those, if not both.
9. [21-0] Houston Cougars (13-6, 2-4) RPI: 217, SOS: 335, Last: (W) vs. UAB, Up Next: @ Rice
The Cougars are a talented team, but their youth seems like just too much to overcome. After opening league play with a win over SMU, they've now lost 4 of their last 5. And, three of those have come by double digits. This week they're at Rice and SMU, so they'll have a chance to pick some wins, but at this point their 12-2 start is a mere memory.
8. [27-0] Marshall Thundering Herd (9-11, 2-3) RPI: 192, SOS: 194, Last: (L) @ Memphis, Up Next: vs. SMU
The Thundering Herd, at this point, are as inconsistent as they come. In their last 8 contests, they've had three losses by more than 25 points (28, 37, 56). And, they've had two wins by more than 15 points (18, 21). Frankly, you just never know what team is going to show up. Last week they fell at Southern Miss 102-46, then turned around and nearly knocked off Memphis at the Forum, falling 73-72. I'm not sure what's going on with the team, but someone's seat has to be getting hot. This week they've got SMU and UCF at home.
"Any team that gets embarrassed like they did at Southern Miss is not going to be high in my rankings. The Herd showed they hadn't given up on the year by showing up and giving Memphis all they could handle on the road, but the inconsistency of this team is frustrating. Luckily for the Herd, they've got a two game home stand where they are a completely different team followed by three winnable games."
7. [28-0] Tulane Green Wave (14-6, 2-3) RPI: 146, SOS: 264, Last: (W) vs. Rice, Up Next: vs. UCF
The Green Wave have now alternated wins and losses over their last six contests, and frankly, that just won't get it done. Their only conference wins have come at home against Rice and Tulsa by a total of nine points, while their three losses have come by an average of 9. There's still time to get things going, but they're now entering a tough stretch that features games against UCF, UTEP, Southern Miss and Marsall over the next couple of weeks.
5. [37-0] East Carolina Pirates (12-7, 3-3) RPI: 116, SOS: 89, Last: (L) vs. UTEP, Up Next: vs. Memphis
The Pirates suffered a tough loss over the weekend, falling to UTEP on a buzzer beater after leading for about 39 of the 40 minutes in the contest. This team is close to being one of the top teams in conference, but they've got to be able to play as well as they do at home, on the road. This week they'll take on Memphis at home, then Rice on the road.
5. [37-0] Tulsa Golden Hurricane (12-9, 4-3) RPI: 112, SOS: 114, Last: (L) vs. USM, Up Next: @ Memphis
While nobody necessarily expected the Golden Hurricane to be one to watch out for in C-USA play, they have certainly become that over the first few weeks of league play. They currently sit in fifth in the standings, and most recently gave league leader Southern Miss all they could handle. If they continue to play like this, they could be one to look out for come tournament time. After all, it is in Tulsa. Up next, they'll be at Memphis.
"While ECU holds a better SOS than the Golden Hurricane, Tulsa possesses 4 total conference wins of which 2 were on the road. ECU holds 3 conference wins two of which were at home."
4. [45-0] Central Florida Knights (14-5, 4-1) RPI: 104, SOS: 161, Last: (W) vs. SMU, Up Next: @ Tulane
The Knights continue to pick up wins in conference action, but they've done so against some of the weaker teams in C-USA, and have needed late runs to do so. Their three conference wins have come against Houston, Rice, and SMU, and they held leads of three points or less late in the game in each of those contests. Their lone loss came at ECU. There's no question this is one of the better teams in C-USA, but until they start putting teams away, they'll probably stay here in 4th. This week they're at Tulane and Marshall.
"Much like the top 2 spots, a debate could be made for the #3. I edge the Miners here for three reasons. While the Golden Knights have 2 wins versus the RPI top 100, UTEP possesses 4. In conference play UCF has split their 2 road games while the Miners are 2-1 in this category. Finally they hold a SOS of 164 with UTEP listed at 31."
3. [50-0] UTEP Miners (11-7, 4-1) RPI: 64, SOS: 32, Last: (W), @ East Carolina, Up Next: @ UAB
The Miners picked up a much needed road win at ECU over the weekend, knocking off the Pirates on about a 28 foot 3 pointer at the buzzer after trailing almost the entire afternoon. The win keeps the Miners in the race for C-USA, although they'll need to continue to pick up road wins to have a chance. The Miners have somewhat of a favorable schedule in the coming weeks, before finishing up the season with the likes of UCF, Southern Miss, and Memphis. This week they're at UAB, then home against Tulane.
"Toss up between the Miners and Knights at this point, but I just think a road victory at East Carolina looks more impressive than two close-ish home victories against Rice and SMU. There are no divisions in basketball, but Western opponents play Western opponents twice and if you notice, the Miners are my only Western team in the top 5. That means UTEP has a favorable schedule having to play Memphis, UCF, ECU, and So Miss once, while those teams beat each other up playing twice."
2. [56-1] Southern Miss. Golden Eagles (17-4, 6-0) RPI: 40, SOS: 142, Last: (W) @ Tulsa, Up Next: @ UAB
The Golden Eagles are arguably the best team in conference, but they've still yet to pick a true quality win on the season as they own only three top 150 RPI wins (112, 123, 147). They are 6-0 on the conference season, but they've played only one team in the top half of the league, as far as these rankings are concerned. That happened to be Saturday at Tulsa, and that one was a nailbiter to the end. Yes, they're good, but at this point its just not justified to say they're the top team in conference.
"While it could be fairly debated that Southern Miss should possess the top spot, they still lack a win against a quality opponent [0-4 against the RPI top 100; Memphis holds a 5-3 record in this same category."
1. [59-4] Memphis Tigers (16-3, 5-0) RPI: 48, SOS: 115, Last: (W) vs. Marshall, Up Next: @ ECU
The Tigers continue to rack up wins, and while they've let some teams hang around, they still find a way to get it done. Saturday they knocked off Marshall by one at the FedEx Forum, only days after the Herd got trampled at Southern Miss by 56. It's hard to make anything of either result, but for the Tigers, a win is a win. It looks this team will continue to be sitting at the top of this league, that is, until they slip up. This week they're at ECU, then home against Tulsa, and things will start to get tougher after that.
"The other undefeated team in C-USA keeps pulling out wins but they looked real shaky at home against Tulane and Marshall. The Tigers better be careful on the road at ECU this week. The Pirates played them pretty well in the second half in Memphis."
Numbers in brackets [ ] are teams' total points in the rankings system, as well as first place votes.
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