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Conference USA Basketball Power Rankings

Kelly Lambert-USA TODAY Sports

The new year is here, and with that we'll start something new with the Conference USA Basketball Power Rankings. Even though we shouldn't exactly worry about RPI and SOS until February, we'll start giving each team's RPI and SOS rankings on this list. So, here are the first C-USA Basketball Power Rankings for 2013.

12. Rice Owls (3-9) RPI: 318, SOS: 232, Last: (L) @ Texas, Up Next: @ Harvard

The Owls gave Texas a game for nearly 30 minutes last week in Austin, actually leading the Longhorns by a point with only 11 minutes to play. But, from there it was all Texas as the Owls fell 57-41, dropping them to 3-9 on the season. They're still a team that is getting better, but they lack the overall talent and depth to compete with teams for 40 minutes. They'll still pick up a few wins in league play, but for now they remain in the 12th spot. Up next, they've got another tough one at Harvard.

11. Marshall Thundering Herd (7-7) RPI: 259, SOS: 249, Last: (L) vs. Delaware St., Up Next: @ Ohio

The Thundering Herd continue to slide after losing a home to a 6-8 Delaware State team. There's no question that this team is missing the services of DeAndre Kane, as for the third time in four games the Herd have been held to less than 60 points. Still though, the rest of the team must learn to pick up the slack until his return or this season will be completely lost. Up next, they'll be at Ohio.

10. East Carolina Pirates (8-4) RPI: 202, SOS: 276, Last: (L) vs. Campbell, Up Next: UNC-Wesleyan

Just a couple of weeks ago the Pirates were giving North Carolina all they could handle on the Heels' home floor; last night, they lost in their own building to Campbell. It seems as though the weak schedule that the Pirates put together isn't paying off, in fact, its backfiring. They've now got a game against North Carolina-Wesleyan before starting conference play. They've got to get things going quickly because they've got as tough a start to conference play as anyone.

9. SMU Mustangs (10-5) RPI: 156, SOS: 289 Last: (L) Wyoming, Up Next: vs. Tulsa

The Mustangs missed out on a prime opportunity to pick up that signature win on Wednesday, falling to undefeated Wyoming at home by 3. The loss means that they have dropped four of their last six, and not at a good time as they now prepare to enter conference play. They will next be in action on Sunday at home against Tulsa.

8. UAB Blazers (8-6) RPI: 126, SOS: 111, Last: (W) vs. Georgia Southern, Up Next: @ Dayton

The Blazers have now won three in a row since falling to Rutgers a couple of weeks ago. Because of that, they now begin their ascent up these rankings. However, it will take more than just wins over Northeastern and Georgia Southern to truly be considered a player in C-USA. And, they'll have their opportunity for a big win next as they head to Dayton to take on the Flyers. If they can find a win there, the Blazers will certainly be one to look out for in Conference USA play.

7. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (8-6) RPI: 145, SOS: 142, Last: (W) vs. Buffalo, Up Next: @ SMU

The Hurricane rebounded from their loss at Florida State by dropping Buffalo on their home court on Wednesday. It wasn't exactly the most impressive win as Tulsa needed a late push to get by the Bulls, but regardless a win is a win. Up next, they'll be opening conference play this Sunday as they head to Dallas to take on SMU. That should give us a good read on both of those squads.

6. Central Florida Knights (9-4) RPI: 120, SOS: 127, Last: (L) vs. South Florida, Up Next: vs. Florida A&M

Considering the losses of other teams, the Knights actually move up in the rankings, despite losing to South Florida themselves. USF led for much of the contest, but the Knights were able to fight back and tie the game at 53, before the Bulls ran away with it. UCF is still a dangerous team, but they've got to find a way to be more consistent. Up next, they'll take on Florida A&M.

5. UTEP Miners (6-6) RPI: 96, SOS: 8, Last: (L) @ Colorado State, Up Next: @ Tulane

The Miners missed out on an opportunity of their own to pick up another big win as they fell at Colorado State 62-58. Truth be told, I'm not sure anyone in conference can beat the Miners in the Don Haskins Center. The question is, how many C-USA teams can the Miners beat on the road? Until we figure that out, they'll likely float around this spot. Up next, they'll have another chance to pick up a big road win at Tulane.

4. Southern Miss. Golden Eagles (11-4) RPI: 59, SOS: 172, Last: (W) vs. Dillard, Up Next: @ Rice

The Golden Eagles wrapped up their exhibition tour by dropping the Dillard Blue Devils 135-41 last night. I'm still not sure if Dillard is a high school or not, but regardless, putting up 135 points is pretty impressive. We know this team is talented, but we'll need to see some better wins before considering them a true contender in C-USA. Up next, they'll open up C-USA play at Rice.

3. Houston Cougars (11-2) RPI: 215, SOS 347, Last: (W) vs. UT Pan-American, Up Next: vs. SMU

The Cougars finished up their non-conference schedule by blowing out UT Pan American last night, bringing their record to 11-2 as conference play arrives. As seen by their RPI and SOS, their out of conference schedule wasn't exactly tough, so we'll see if it pays off in the long run. They're off this weekend, but will be back in action next Wednesday to open up C-USA play against SMU.

2. Memphis Tigers (9-3) RPI: 106, SOS: 147, Last: (W) vs. Loyola-Maryland, Up Next: @ Tennessee

The Tigers finally fall from their perch atop C-USA as their mediocre wins just don't hold water anymore. Last time out, Memphis was in a game against Loyola-Maryland that was closely contested for 30 minutes, before the Tigers finally pulled away. They've still got an opportunity to pick up some big wins and take the top spot back, but for now they're number two. Up next, they're at Tennessee.

1. Tulane Green Wave (11-3) RPI: 133, SOS: 324, Last: (W) @ Alabama, Up Next: vs. Wofford

The Green Wave entered the top 4 on this list last week, but there were still questions about whether or not they could win the big game, and win on the road. They put any concerns to rest as they knocked off Alabama on the road on Sunday. Granted, the Crimson Tide aren't the class of the SEC by any means, but they are a good ball club, and the win is arguable as good or better than any win a C-USA team has to this point. Up next, they'll take on Wofford.