February is here, and the conference season has reached the midway point. Two teams have separated themselves as the class of the league, but still, this could turn out to be more than a two horse race. Let's see where each team lands in this week's C-USA Basketball Power Rankings.
12. [5-0] Rice Owls (5-16, 1-6) RPI: 304, SOS: 142, Last: (L) vs. ECU, Up Next: @ UTEP
The Owls were finally able to pick up their first win of the conference season last week as they knocked off Houston 79-69. However, its going to take a little more than that to get them out of the bottom spot in these rankings as they are still a unanimous number 12. This week they're at UTEP, then back home against SMU. Pick up one of those two, and you're likely out of the cellar.
11. [10-0] UAB Blazers (9-13, 1-6) RPI: 170, SOS: 70, Last: (L) vs. Southern Miss, Up Next: @ Tulsa
The Blazers were also able to pick up their first win in conference last week, coming back from as many as 15 down in the second half to knock off UTEP in overtime. They turned around and then fell at home to Southern Miss, so we can't exactly say they've turned the corner. This team still has a ways to go before they're winning games on a consistent basis. This week they're at Tulsa, and at home against Marshall.
10. [19-0] SMU Mustangs (12-11, 2-6) RPI: 191, SOS: 209, Last: (L) vs. Houston, Up Next: vs. Memphis
Its hard to get a read on the Mustangs. They struggled throughout conference play, but have played teams like Southern Miss and UCF fairly tough, and even won on the road at Marshall. But, they turn around and give a home game to a struggling Houston squad. Needless to say, there's just no consistency here. This week the Mustangs have Memphis at home, then Rice on the road.
8. [21-0] Houston Cougars (14-7, 3-5) RPI: 204, 336, Last: (W) @ SMU, Up Next: vs. Tulane
The Cougars just can't get the ship righted in conference play. While they've won two of their last three, they still sit at 3-6 in league play. Last week they gave Rice their first conference win of the season when they fell 79-69, then they traveled to SMU and beat them in overtime. At this point, its just hard to expect anything from this young team. This week they've got Wednesday off, and will be at home against Tulane on Saturday.
"So much potential, but still so young."
8. [21-0] Tulane Green Wave (14-8, 2-5) RPI: 171, SOS: 239, Last: (L) @ UTEP, Up Next: vs. Marshall
The Green Wave continue to struggle, and have now lost three of their last four. Last week they fell at home to UCF, and then at UTEP by an average of 10 points. Its hard to say exactly what is going with this team as they have some big stars in their starting lineup, but right now they just aren't getting it done. This week they're at home against Marshall, then at Tulane.
"The Wave looked very unimpressive against the Miners on Saturday. Credit the UTEP defense, but Tulane is also underperforming."
7. [29-0] Marshall Thundering Herd (10-12, 3-4) RPI: 195, SOS: 107, Last: (W) vs. UCF, Up Next: @ Tulane
The Thundering Herd have now become the definition of inconsistency. In their last four, they've lost at Southern Miss by 56, lost at Memphis by 1, and won against UCF by 4. The truth, you just never know what you're going to get from this team. Despite their record, this is still a team capable of beating anyone in conference. They could be playing spoiler come conference tourney time. This week they're at Tulane and UAB.
"The Thundering Herd continue their schizophrenic ways. Just when it appears all hope is lost for the season after a 56 point loss at S. Miss; a 1 point loss at Memphis; and an 11 point home loss to SMU; they pull out a solid home win versus the Golden Knights. I'm glad we (UTEP) won't see them again until the Conference Tournament...and hopefully on the other side of the bracket."
6. [35-0] Tulsa Golden Hurricane (12-10, 4-4) RPI: 105, SOS: 94, Last: (L) @ Memphis, Up Next: vs. UAB
The Golden Hurricane to continue to hang around the middle of the pack, but at this point its becoming fairly apparent that they are not in the top tier of C-USA. Last week they played Southern Miss fairly tight at home, but then went on the road and fell to Memphis by 30. Still though, they aren't one to overlook. This week they'll be at home against UAB, then on the road at UTEP.
5. [40-0] East Carolina Pirates (13-8, 4-4) RPI: 117, SOS: 89, Last: (W) @ Rice, Up Next: @ UCF
The Pirates continue to play well at the midway point of the conference season, and frankly are only a couple of buckets away from being in the top 3 of the league. Last week they played Memphis tight before falling, and then went on the road and dropped Rice by 16. This may not be an "elite team", but they are certainly one of the better ones in the league. This week they've got Wednesday before traveling to UCF on Saturday.
4. [45-0] Central Florida Knights (15-6, 5-2) RPI: 102, SOS 159, Last: (L) @ Marshall, Up Next: vs. Southern Miss
The Knights gave up a prime opportunity to move up in these rankings by giving one away to Marshall on Saturday. The truth is, numbers 3 and 4 on this list are interchangeable as 1 and 2, but the Knights missed the chance to make that change official. This week they've got a pair of home game against Southern Miss and ECU.
"Though the Golden Knights are in a position to make a case for the #3 spot their SOS and RPI are difficult to ignore. UCF is in a position to tip the scales with a win this Wednesday in Orlando as they host the Golden Eagles."
3. [50-0] UTEP Miners (12-8, 5-2) RPI: 74, SOS: 43, Last: (W) vs. Tulane, Up Next: vs. Rice
The Miners missed out on a opportunity to stay just a step behind conference leaders as they fell at UAB. They actually held a 15 point lead in the second half of that one, but 21 turnovers and 15 missed free throws kept the door open for the Blazers to steal the win. The Miners responded well with a win at home against Tulane, but still they're now two games behind the leaders. This week they've got home games against Rice and Tulsa.
" While the Miners suffered an UGLY setback at UAB, it's difficult to ignore the fact that their last 4 losses (3 of 4 on the road) are by a combined total point differential of 15 (average of 3.75 pts/game). Though that doesn't equate to a ‘W' in the score column it does indicate a tougher and more competitive squad than meets the eye."
2. [55-0] Southern Miss. Golden Eagles (18-4, 7-0) RPI: 37, SOS: 125, Last: (W) @ UAB, Up Next: @ UCF
The Golden Eagles maintained their perfect record in C-USA play as last week they picked up a couple of road at Tulsa and UAB. Still though, they've yet to play any of the top teams in conference. That's about to change though as down the stretch they'll face Memphis, UCF, and ECU twice, and will play at both UTEP and Marshall. We'll see how spotless their record is after all of that.
"The Golden Eagles are definitely making a case as the class of the conference. As is the case with Memphis, the Golden Eagles will also enter the toughest stretch of their conference schedule beginning this Wednesday with their first of 2 versus UCF. They also have 2 remaining versus Memphis, 1 at ECU, 1 at Marshall, and a home game versus UTEP."
1. [60-5] Memphis Tigers (18-3, 7-0) RPI: 40, SOS: 104, Last: (W) vs. Tulsa, Up Next: @ SMU
For the first week in our rankings, the Tigers are the unanimous number 1 team in the conference. Despite having just about an identical record with Southern Miss, the Tigers' play is finally starting to impress. Last week they won at ECU by 7, then dropped Tulsa at home by 30. They also own wins over Tennessee, Ohio, and Harvard, and still have a non-conference game at Xavier to come. Also, their only losses have come to teams that are either in the top 25, or have spent time in the top 25 this season. This week, they're at Southern Miss and SMU.
"I've been convinced by the statistics and RPI standings that the others threw out last time. It's really 1A and 1B so far. Can't wait til these two teams play each other twice."
Numbers in brackets [ ] are teams' total points in the rankings system, as well as first place votes.
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