Inside Marshall Sports

Conference USA rankings, 1/17

A lot of big games, so a lot of movement … except for Middle Tennessee, which is going nowhere. If the Blue Raiders keep it up, they’ll get the Memphis treatment, where they are too good to even be listed with the rest of the wretched refuse. They’re not there, yet.

The usual reminder: All teams play Thursday-Saturday weekends, both home or both away. Exception: “Travel partners” Western Kentucky and Marshall, Old Dominion and Charlotte, and Texas-El Paso and Texas-San Antonio, who play a single game Saturday.

My rankings, with results and schedule (RPI as of Tuesday morning):

  1. Middle Tennessee (15-3, 5-0, 23 RPI), d. Marshall 69-57, d. WKU 91-76. Any questions? This week: at FIU, FAU.
  2. Alabama-Birmingham (11-7, 4-1, 125 RPI), d. WKU 72-54, d. Marshall 94-78. William Lee was player of the week after two dominant games; Denzell Watts and Deion Lavender are starting to answer the big question at point guard. This week: at FAU, FIU.
  3. Louisiana Tech (12-6, 4-1, 196 RPI), d. Charlotte 79-73, d. Old Dominion 75-63. Bulldogs shoot 60 percent in an impressive road sweep. This week: home vs. Rice, North Texas.
  4. Marshall (11-8, 4-2, 93 RPI), lost to MTSU 69-57, UAB 94-78. Road roughing-up shows need for Marshall to play with an “athletic basketball.” There will be no overpowering the top two teams. This week: WKU.
  5. Old Dominion (11-7, 4-2, 142 RPI), d. Southern Miss 54-50, lost to Louisiana Tech 75-63. After holding all teams to 48 percent or below, Monarchs allowed La Tech to shoot 57 percent — 67 percent in the second half. This week: at Charlotte.
  6. Rice (12-6, 2-3, 168 RPI), d. North Texas 101-79. Owls hit 101 for first time in a league game since joining Conference USA in 2005. They might top that on March 2 at the Henderson Center — and lose. This week: At La Tech, at Southern Miss.
  7. Texas-San Antonio (9-9, 4-1, 296 RPI), d. FAU 68-63, d. FIU 57-55. I’m not going to give a lot of credit for beating the “F” schools by a combined seven points, but where else do I put this surprise team? This week: at UTEP.
  8. Western Kentucky (9-10, 3-3, 214 RPI), lost to UAB 72-54, lost to MTSU 91-76. Falling behind by 27 and 19 points, Hilltoppers had the same type of trip Marshall suffered. This week: at Marshall.
  9. Charlotte (8-9, 2-4, 227 RPI), lost to Louisiana Tech 79-73, d. Southern Miss 82-66. 49ers fell behind by 23 against La Tech, rallied to within one and had a shot to tie. This week: home vs. Old Dominion.
  10. Southern Mississippi (5-12, 2-3, 338 RPI), lost to Old Dominion 54-50, lost to Charlotte 82-66. This week: home vs. North Texas, Rice.
  11. North Texas (6-11, 0-5, 292 RPI), lost to Rice 101-79. This week: at Southern Miss, at La Tech.
  12. Texas-El Paso (4-13, 2-3, 341 RPI), d. FIU 88-87 (2 OT), d. FAU 66-65 (OT). Buzzer-beating basket vs. FIU led SportCenter LA, but didn’t impress me much. This week: home vs. UTSA.
  13. Florida Atlantic (5-11, 1-4, 335 RPI), lost to UTSA 68-63, lost to UTEP 66-65 (OT). This week: home vs. UAB, MTSU.
  14. Florida International (4-14, 0-5, 347 of 351 RPI), lost to UTEP 88-87 (2 OT), lost to UTSA 57-55. This week: home vs. MTSU, UAB.

TV games — beIN Sports, UAB at Florida Atlantic, 8 p.m. Thursday. ASN: WKU at Marshall, 6 p.m. Saturday, Old Dominion at Charlotte, 8 p.m. Saturday.

Stat leaders

Top scorers: Elmore (MU) 20.1, Koulechov (Rice) 19.9, McGill (FIU) 18.8.

Rebounders: Kessens (FIU) 9.7, McCree (LT) 8.7, Taylor (Marshall) 8.44.

Assists: Artis (UTEP) 6.4, Elmore (MU) 6.1, Bracey (LT) 5.7.

Top scoring teams: Marshall 87.5, Rice 83.8, Charlotte 78.9.

Top shooting teams: Rice .486, Middle Tennessee .480, Louisiana Tech .480, Marshall .467.

Top 3-point % teams: Charlotte .397, Rice .393, Middle Tennessee .383, Marshall .380.

Offensive rebound %: Old Dominion .373 (MU 11th at .251)

Defensive rebound %: MTSU .763 (MU 14th, .658)