With news of the new conference "merger" (or association, whatever you want to call it) still soaking in, let's move on a bit to take a look at this week's Conference USA Basketball Power Rankings. Memphis caught Southern Miss in the standings last week, but apparently that wasn't enough for the Tigers to take over the number 1 spot. According to the votes, Southern Miss is still tops in Conference USA.
This week I've decided to do the power rankings just a little different. Considering the merger, we'll go ahead and take at a look at what these rankings would look like if the new conference was already in effect. So with that, let's go ahead and take a look at what this week's Conference USA Basketball Power Rankings look like.
1. #11 UNLV Rebels (22-4, 6-2 MWC) RPI: 9, SOS: 38
2. (1) Southern Miss Golden Eagles (19-4, 8-2) RPI: 12, SOS: 48 Last: (W) vs. UCF, Up Next: vs. Tulsa
The Golden Eagles had a bit of a hiccup last week, falling at UAB by 10. They rebounded from the loss to drop UCF on Saturday, but if they have hopes of any at large consideration for the NCAA tourney, they just can't afford to give any more of those away. This week, Southern Miss will take on Tulsa at home, and then Houston on the road. Even though Tulsa has been hot, both of these games are must wins.
3. (2) Memphis Tigers (18-7, 8-2) RPI: 20, SOS: 14, Last: (W) vs. UAB, Up Next: @ Tulane
Sometimes the Tigers look mediocre, but other times they look really, really good. Saturday was an example of the latter as they completely rolled the same team that had just knocked off USM, the UAB Blazers, by a final of 77-45. Memphis also knocked off ECU last week, 70-59. This week the Tigers will hit the road to take on Tulane on Wednesday, before returning home to take on UTEP. With no more games inside the top 50 RPI, and with already 7 losses on the season, they cannot afford to be giving anymore games away.
4. New Mexico Lobos (19-4, 6-2 MWC) RPI: 35, SOS: 118
5. Nevada Wolfpack (19-4, 10-1 WAC) RPI: 64, SOS: 171
6. (3) Tulsa Golden Hurricane (15-10, 8-3) RPI: 109, SOS: 116, Last: (W) vs. Houston, Up Next: @ Southern Miss
The Golden Hurricane had their 7 game win streak snapped last week by UTEP, but they rebounded nicely, dropping Houston on Saturday by a final of 72-48. This week Tulsa will be at Southern Miss, and then at home against Rice. While they don't really have any real at large chances for the NCAA tournament, they do still play both Southern Miss and Memphis, and could easily put together a nice resume for the NIT. They gotta keep winning games though.
7. (4) UCF Knights (16-7, 7-4) RPI: 55, SOS: 101, Last: (L) @ Southern Miss, Up Next: vs. ECU
The Knights had a tough week last week, but they came out of it in pretty good shape. To be honest, for the conference, it went about as well as it could've. UCF knocked an under perfoming Marshall squad, and then fell in a close one at league leader Southern Miss. The Knights only have to face one more opponent inside the top 100 RPI, Memphis, so if they can win out, they could very well play themselves into the NCAA tournament. Barring any major setbacks, this team has an NIT bid on lock.
8. Wyoming Cowboys (16-6, 4-4 MWC) RPI: 66, SOS: 120
9. Colorado St. Rams (14-8, 4-4 MWC) RPI: 28, SOS: 6
10. (5) Marshall Thundering Herd (14-10, 6-5) RPI: 64, SOS: 19, Last: (W) vs. ECU, Up Next: @ SMU
Things have gone from bad to worse in Huntington, as the Herd just can't seem to wake up from the nightmare they've been in for weeks. After starting the season 10-4, they have since gone 4-6. The bad news, they still have to play Memphis and Southern Miss again. Last week Marshall lost at UCF, and then took out ECU at home. This week they'll be at SMU, and then back home against Houston. Needless to say, this week's soft slate was much needed.
11. (6) Rice Owls (12-11, 6-5) RPI: 168, SOS: 176, Last: (W) vs. SMU, Up Next: @ Tulsa
Wow, and I thought the UTEP-Tulane game was ugly. Rice steamed past SMU on Saturday 43-39, and also dropped Houston earlier in the week 79-71. This week the Owls will be at Tulsa, and then at home against UCF. While Rice has virtually no chance of making either the NCAA tourney or NIT, considering they still play 3 of the top 4 teams in conference, they could certainly be playing spoiler.
12. (7) UTEP Miners (12-13, 5-6) RPI: 165, SOS: 98, Last: (W) vs. Tulane, Up Next: @ Memphis
Finally, the Miners were able to pick up a couple of wins. They ended Tulsa's 7 game win streak on Wednesday, and then somehow found a way to take out Tulane on Saturday. This week they'll have Wednesday off before traveling to Memphis to take on the Tigers. While the Miners are pretty much out of contention for any postseason tournaments, they've taken some great strides this year, and have shown some promise for the future.
13. (8) UAB Blazers (10-14, 5-6) RPI: 121, SOS: 23, Last: (L) @ Memphis, Up Next: @ SMU
Ok, the Blazers knocked off Southern Miss on Wednesday, and then turned around and got blown out of the gym by Memphis 77-45. Considering this hasn't happened to them throughout their conference schedule, we'll just write it off as "one of those days". This week the Blazers are at SMU, and then back home against Tulane. I'd expect them to pick up both of those wins.
14. (9) Tulane Green Wave (13-9, 3-7) RPI: 167, SOS: 272, Last: (L) @ UTEP, Up Next: vs. Memphis
The Green Wave have done well to stay competitive this season, even after the loss of their star forward. Unfortunately for them, they've lost some games that they might not have lost with Timmons in the lineup. Thus, a 3-7 conference record. Last week Tulane was off on Wednesday, then fell to UTEP on the road in overtime Saturday. This week the Wave are at home against Memphis, and then at UAB. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see them lose both of those games.
15. (10) East Carolina Pirates (8-12, 3-8) RPI: 174, SOS: 75, Last: (L) @ Marshall, Up Next: @ UCF
After starting 0-6 in conference, the Pirates have won 3 of their last 5. The problem is they're in the middle of a 3 game road swing that features games at Marshall, at UCF, and at Memphis. Last week they lost to Memphis and Marshall. This week they've got Wednesday off, and then take UCF on Saturday. It's a good thing they got their wins when they did, because with UCF, Memphis, UAB, Marshall, and Tulane still to go, they many not see many more the rest of the way.
16. (11) Houston Cougars (10-13, 3-8) RPI: 245, SOS: 213, Last: (L) @ Tulsa, Up Next: vs. Southern Miss
The Cougars have now lost four in a row since their miraculous 15 point come against UTEP three weeks ago. At this point, there is very little difference between 11th and 12th, but right now Houston is just a little less bad. Last week they lost to both Rice and Tulsa, with the loss to the Hurricane coming by a score of 72-48. This week they'll take on both Southern Miss and Marshall. I'd expect a couple more conference losses.
17. (12) SMU Mustangs (9-14, 2-8) RPI: 198, SOS: 140, Last: (L) @ Rice, Up Next: vs. UAB
The Mustangs computer numbers are actually quite a bit better than Houston's, but their overall and conference records are worse, and they haven't won a conference game in about a month. They did beat TCU last week, but then only managed 39 points in a loss to Rice over the weekend. This week SMU takes on both UAB and Marshall at home. While I wouldn't expect a win this week, they'll still have a chance to get out of last place when they have their rematch with Houston in a couple of weeks.
18. Fresno St. Bulldogs (9-16, 3-8 WAC) RPI: 211, SOS: 137
19. Air Force Falcons (9-11, 1-7 MWC) RPI: 191, SOS: 113
Obviously, there are more teams in here than would be in the new MWCUSA, as a few of these teams will belong to the Big East at that point, but it's interesting to see where everyone would fall. Numbers in (x) are the ranking in Conference USA, whereas other numbers are overall rankings.