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Conference USA Bubble Watch

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With February quickly approaching, and the midway point of the conference season nearly here, its time to take a look at the post season possibilities for C-USA teams. Its been a wild start to conference play with virtually everybody beating up on everybody. As it stands there are 6 Conference USA teams in the top 100 RPI so we'll go ahead and check out the resumes of those six teams. 

1.) Memphis Tigers (15-4, 4-1) RPI: 44, SOS: 74, Last 10: 7-3, Pomeroy: 97, Sagarin: 69

The Tigers probably have the best chance of any C-USA team to reach the NCAA tournament with an at-large bid. More than anything, that is due to their reputation on the national scene. They are currently 4-3 vs. the RPI top 100, and 1-3 vs. the top 50. The Tigers still have plenty of work to be done, but they've also got plenty of opportunities. There are still 7 opponents in the top 100 left on their schedule. If they end up with 9+ wins vs. the top 100 they've got a shot. 

Good Wins: Miami (FL), Marshall, at Southern Miss, at UAB

Bad Losses: at SMU

2.) UAB Blazers (13-5, 3-2) RPI: 52, SOS: 97, Last 10: 7-3, Pomeroy: 68, Sagarin: 66

The Blazers are in desperate need of every big win that they can get. They definitely did not do themselves any favors losing by 16 at Tulsa. The Blazers are currently 3-3 vs. the top 100 RPI, and 0-3 vs. the top 50, with 7 top 100 games left on their schedule. In my opinion, the Blazers will need at least six of those seven to have a legitimate shot at an at large bid. 

Good Wins: Kent St., VCU, UTEP.

Bad Losses: at Arizona St., at Tulsa

3.) UTEP Miners (16-4, 4-1) RPI: 64, SOS: 142, Last 10: 8-2, Pomeroy: 59, Sagarin: 64

The Miners have really put themselves in a tough spot. Yes they're 16-4, and are leading the conference, but their resume isn't so strong. The Miners have a couple bad losses early in the season to Pacific, and on a neutral floor to Georgia Tech. Those don't help at all, and their SOS surely doesn't either. The Miners are 1-2 vs. the RPI top 100, and 0-1 vs. the top 50. The Miners lone top 100 win may soon disappear if Michigan (91) continues to slide. The Miners only have 4 top 100 games left, and they definitely need them all. 

Good Wins: Michigan (neutral floor)

Bad Losses: Pacific, Georgia Tech (neutral floor)

4.) UCF Knights (14-4, 1-4) RPI: 65, SOS: 106, Last 10: 6-4, Pomeroy: 75, Sagarin: 65

The Knights were a virtual lock for an at large coming into conference at 13-0, no. 18 in the nation. Boy have things changed. After surviving their first conference game against Marshall, UCF has dropped four straight, leaving the NCAA tournament hopes on life support. The Knights are 4-1 vs. the RPI top 100, and 2-0 vs. the top 50. If they can somehow put a nice winning streak together, their 4 losses may be written off as a mere fluke, but with Memphis, UAB, and UTEP in their next three they may be getting written off altogether. The Knights still have 7 top 100 games so they'll have their chance.

Good Wins: Florida (neutral court), Miami (FL) (neutral court), Princeton, Marshall

Bad Losses: at Houston, ECU, Rice

5.) Marshall Thundering Herd (13-6, 1-3) RPI: 75, SOS: 89, Last 10: 6-4, Pomeroy: 92, Sagarin: 91

The Herd had just played themselves into contention last week after dropping rival West Virginia on a neutral court. They followed that up with a home loss at the hands of ECU. Marshall is currently 3-4 vs. the RPI top 100, and 1-2 vs. the top 50. The Herd have 6 games vs. the top 100 left on their schedule, but likely don't have much of an at large shot. Their only chance of an at large is probably winning out until the conference championship. Other than that, its win the conference tourney or NIT. 

Good Wins: James Madison, Southern Miss, West Virginia (neutral court)

Bad Losses: Chattanooga, ECU.

6.) Southern Miss Golden Eagels (14-5, 3-3) RPI: 76, SOS: 150, Last 10: 6-4, Pomeroy: 93, Sagarin: 81

The Golden Eagles came into conference at 11-2 with a nice win at CAL on their resume. Since then they've gone 3-3 and just can't get into any kind of rhythm. The Golden Eagles are 2-4 vs. the RPI top 100, and 0-1 vs. the top 50. They still have 6 games vs. the RPI top 100, but will likely need to win the conference tournament to reach the big dance. 

Final Outlook:

Memphis and UTEP make the NCAA tournament

UAB, UCF, Marshall, and Southern Miss make the NIT

The truth is that at this point only three teams seem to have a legitimate shot at making the NCAA tournament. Those three would be Memphis, UAB, and UTEP. UCF could still have the strongest resume if they can string some wins together, but at this point they are out. Memphis has the national media on its side, and UTEP has the computers on its side. Both of those are good starting points, but don't forget that when you are a mid-major nothing is given to you. Memphis may get a BIT of a free pass, but UAB and UTEP need to win a lot of games to be given serious consideration. At this point C-USA is a two bid league, and if we keep beating up on each other it may turn into a one bid league.