Another week in the books, and just one full week of action left in what has been a solid year within the conference.
The race for the regular season crown is one of the closest races in the nation, and the most competitive within the top five teams C-USA has seen in years.
Middle Tennessee separated themselves from the five pack with wins over Marshall on Saturday, after opening the weekend with a 71-49 drubbing of Charlotte.
There is no question the Blue Raiders are the hottest, and possibly the best overall team in the C-USA at this point.
They have won nine straight, and are shutting teams down with solid lock down defense, no one has scored more than 63 points on them in their last 16 games dating back to January 11th.
Shawn Jones had a rough night in their narrow win against Marshall on Saturday, though has my vote for player of the year after a streak of 20-point games during their win streak. A dangerous team defensively that will certainly make noise in Chuco Town come tourney time, defense wins championships and Kermit Davis was in the almost exact spot as last season.
Before Tulsa fans crucify me for leaving them at five again, let me explain.
There is no lack of respect or knowledge of the Golden Hurricane, they are solid veteran squad, I just don't think the Golden Hurricane will get the fourth seed despite a favorable draw in two out of three games left to finish off the year, guess who I have them losing to....
Yes they have won five straight, and knocked off both Southern Miss and Middle Tennessee, though lost a close one to LA Tech on the road, and are 14-12 against D-1 opponents in their very respectable schedule, and have a way higher SOS than the dunking Dawgs. Plus James Woodard deserves serious all-conference consideration.
I do believe Tulsa can hang with the top teams, but I don't think they are one just yet.
A win on the road in front of hopefully 12,000 Thursday when they face UTEP night will solidify Tulsa as a solid, and for real contender.
I think if LA Tech and Tulsa played again, like today, LA Tech rolls, I know I've said I view head-to-head match ups as a ranking point, but LA Tech is the better overall team in my eyes at least today.
About those Miners.....
Bad defense, and no clutch baskets down the stretch lead Southern Miss to fight their way back into the second place jumble.
The Miners lack of depth was exposed by the depth at guard Southern Miss. boasts, among other things that for competitive reasons just in case Danny Manning reads this, I will leave off for now.
One thing for sure, is this team goes as point guard C.J. Cooper goes, four assists and five turnovers from C.J. against Southern Miss, the Miners will lose every time out when that stat line is slanted like that.
What does one take from UAB's sweep?
They were suppose to beat Marshall, and narrowly escaped against Charlotte thanks to a late Pierria Henry turnover.
While they will probably be seeded anywhere 5-9, I wouldn't want to face Chad Frazier and C.J Washington come tournament time, I see UAB as a possible dark horse once March 11th rolls around.
Shape will continue to take place within the five way scramble for the top four spots this week, its the most wonderful time of year.
|16.||Rice Owls||(7-19, 2-11)||
Up Next: vs UAB, Thur
@ Middle Tennessee, Sat
|Last Week Ranking: #16|
|RPI: 293||SOS: 171|
|15.||Marshall Thundering Herd||(9-19, 3-10)||
Up Next: @ Old Dominion, Thur
vs ECU, Sun
|Last Week Ranking: #15|
|RPI: 269||SOS: 149|
|14.||UTSA Roadrunners||(8-18, 4-9)||
Up Next: vs North Texas, Thur
@ Tulsa, Sun
|Last Week Ranking: #14|
|RPI: 289||SOS: 193|
|13.||Florida Atlantic Owls||(10-18, 5-8)||
This Week: @ Tulane, Wed
vs So Miss., Sun
|Last Week: #11|
|RPI: 239||SOS: 137|
|12.||East Carolina Pirates||(15-13, 4-9)||
This Week: vs Charlotte, Thur
@ Marshall, Sun
|Last Week Ranking: #13|
|RPI: 194||SOS: 151|
|11.||Fla. International Golden Panthers||(13-15, 5-8)||
This Week: @ So Miss., Thur
vs Tulane, Sun
|Last Week Ranking: #9|
|RPI: 219||SOS: 215|
|10.||North Texas Mean Green||(14-13, 5-8)||
This Week: @ UTSA, Thur
vs UTEP, Sat
|Last Week Ranking: #9|
|RPI: 207||SOS: 183|
|9.||Charlotte 49ers||(14-12, 5-8)||
This Week: @ ECU, Thur
vs Old Dominion, Sun
|Last Week Ranking: #8|
|RPI: 146||SOS: 150|
|8.||Old Dominion Monarchs||(13-15, 7-6)||
This Week: vs Marshall, Thur
@ Charlotte, Sun
|Last Week Ranking: #7|
|RPI: 165||SOS: 132|
|7.||UAB Blazers||(17-10, 6-7)||
This Week: @ Rice, Thur
vs Louisiana Tech, Sun
|Last Week Ranking: #10|
|RPI: 166||SOS: 126|
|6.||Tulane Green Wave||(15-13, 7-6)||
This Week: vs FAU, Wed
@ FIU, Sun
|Last Week Ranking: #6|
|RPI: 192||SOS: 173
|5.||Tulsa Golden Hurricane||(15-12, 10-3)||
This Week: @ UTEP, Thur
vs UTSA, Sun
|Last Week Ranking: #5|
|RPI: 136||SOS: 122|
|4.||Louisiana Tech Bulldogs||(22-6, 10-3)||
This Week: vs Middle Tennessee, Thur
@ UAB, Sun
|Last Week Ranking: #3|
|RPI: 82||SOS: 237|
|3.||UTEP Miners||(20-8, 10-3)||
This Week: vs Tulsa, Thur
@ North Texas, Sun
|Last Week Ranking: #1|
|2.||Southern Miss. Golden Eagles||(23-5, 10-3)||
This Week: vs FIU, Thur
@ FAU, Sun
|Last Week Ranking: #4|
|RPI: 41||SOS: 156|
|1.||Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders||(21-7, 11-2)||
This Week: @ LA Tech, Thur
vs Rice, Sat
|Last Week Ranking: #2|
Conference RPI: 13
Conference SOS: 13