Last weekend was a solid ending to a surprising non-conference showing by most of the C-USA possible contenders.
Still many questions remain, though we do know Southern Miss. and LA Tech are pretty solid teams, lead by a tough group of talented guards.
For the second time in three seasons, the Golden Eagles enter conference play with 13 wins, and a forward in Michael Craig who is just eating boards right now after missing the last 13 games last year.
He has complimented guard Neil Watson as the veteran roster has led to four straight wins heading into Denton to open up against North Texas.
LA Tech had seven players score in double figures in a 125 point output against Longwood last Saturday. Yeah I know who is Longwood right? But that huge overtime win against Oklahoma gave this guard oriented team huge confidence and thing the kids call "swag".
UAB has dominated the boards so far this year, and leads the nation in rebounding.
We thought Rod Rucker would be the man, and outside of him there just wasn't much, though Chad Fraizer has lived up to the stars, and is an All-Conference candidate in my book.
C.J. Washington has five double-doubles off the bench for the Blazers, whom despite the sexy win against Top-40 RPI North Carolina, and 11 wins have an RPI of 105 which should improve.
Some middle of pack teams will have a chance to shed that label, separating themselves in the opening weekend while answering some questions.
UTEP and Charlotte meet in the game of the night for Thursday, Middle Tennessee will square off with UAB on Saturday.
C-USA was predicted to be top heavy and weak outside the top four or five, but you can rank 5-8 in our rankings anyway at this point of the season, with the possible exception of two, and if any of those teams get hot they can fight for the coveted fourth seed in the tourney.
FIU is definitely one, we will find out on Saturday if Rakeem Buckles & Co. can hang with high scoring LA Tech, with East Carolina being another.
Tough decision to keep the Pirates in the top-5. With four of their wins against non-division opponents made it real hard to put them in-front of UTEP or Middle, they stay put because Akeem Richmond just maybe the real deal, and they can really score as a team.
As for the home blog Miners, its hard to tell where to put them after the roster moves that were announced yesterday.
With a lack of guards, UTEP will need to rely on the tough rebounding, and defense that has been a staple during this five game winning skid. Expect juniors Julian Washburn, C.J. Cooper, and freshman Vince Hunter (whistle willing) to lead the conference in minutes played during the conference grind.
UTEP will fight hard, and still has a solid, formidable front court that could be the best in the league, don't count the Miners out just yet. though it won't be easy without McKenzie Moore.
North Texas is a very interesting team heading into the opening weekend. The Mean Green hung in with Oklahoma without T.J. Taylor, got rolled at BYU, then rolled Texas A&M by 20, and almost blew a lead to a sluggish UC-Riverside, only winning by four.
Right off the bat they are welcomed by Southern Miss, something tells me this North Texas team won't be an easy out for anyone.
Most experts have the C-USA as a one bid league, and its difficult to agree with that at this point in the campaign.
I could argue two for sure and a possible third, though the third would end up knock out the second like it has happened in past years, making C-USA a two bid league at best.
LA Tech's resilient effort against Oklahoma, UAB's upset of North Carolina, and what happens if Charlotte dominates, and Michigan keeps their hot streak going and ends up running the table in the Big Ten?
I predict Southern Miss to the run the table the rest of the way, but with the before mentioned teams impressive wins, they all have a shot to contend for the second spot, or hopefully a blessing of third for the conference sake.
And is there a true dark horse? Just don't see anyone living up to that mark just yet, but that's why we sit back and watch right?
Here are the Power Rankings for opening weekend.
This Week: vs Marshall, Thur
vs Charlotte Saturday
|Last Ranking: #16|
|RPI: 343||SOS: 335|
|15.||Florida Atlantic Owls||(4-10)||
This Week: @ LA Tech, Thur
@ Rice, Sat
|Last Ranking: #15|
|RPI: 303||SOS: 175|
|14.||Marshall Thundering Herd||(6-9)||
This Week: @ UTSA , Thur
@ UTEP, Fri
|Last Ranking: #8|
|RPI: 264||SOS: 145|
|13.||Old Dominion Monarchs||(6-9)||This Week: @ East Carolina||Last Ranking: #12|
|RPI: 234||SOS: 178|
This Week: vs FIU, Thur
vs FAU, Sat
|Last Ranking: #11|
|RPI: 233||SOS: 155|
|11.||Tulsa Golden Hurricane||(5-9)||
This Week: vs Tulane, Thur
vs. So. Miss, Sun
|Last Ranking: #13|
|RPI: 151||SOS: 35|
|10.||Tulane Green Wave||(8-7)||
This Week: @ Tulsa, Thur
@ North Texas, Sat
|Last Ranking: #9|
|RPI: 278||SOS: 290|
|9.||Fla. International Golden Panthers||(8-7)||
This Week: @ Rice, Thur
@ LA Tech, Sat
|Last Ranking: #8|
|RPI: 252||SOS: 296|
|8.||North Texas Mean Green||(9-5)||
This Week: vs Southern Miss, Thur
vs Tulane, Sat
|Last Ranking: #10|
|RPI: 172||SOS: 239|
|7.||Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders||(9-5)||
This Week: vs UAB, Sat
|Last Ranking: # 7|
|RPI: 137||SOS: 137|
This Week: vs Charlotte, Thur
vs. Marshall, Sat
|Last Ranking: #6|
|RPI: 139||SOS: 157|
|5.||East Carolina Pirates||(11-4)||This Week: vs Old Dominion||Last Ranking: # 5|
|RPI: 196||SOS: 308|
This Week: @ UTEP, Thur
@ UTSA, Sat
|Last Ranking: #4|
|3.||UAB Blazers||(11-3)||This Week: @ Middle Tennessee, Sat||Last Ranking: #2|
|RPI: 102||SOS: 210|
|2.||Louisiana Tech Bulldogs||(12-3)||
This Week: vs FAU, Thur
vs, FIU, Sat
|Last Ranking: #3|
|RPI: 78||SOS: 237|
|1.||Southern Miss Golden Eagles||(13-2)||
This Week: @ North Texas, Thur
@ Tulsa, Sun
|Last Ranking: #1|
|RPI: 25||SOS: 122|
Conference RPI Rank: 17
Conference SOS Rank: 19