Inside Marshall Sports

Conference USA rankings 1/23

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OK, we had our most ridiculous upset yet, Alabama-Birmingham’s egg-laying at previously 0-for Florida International. This exercise has taken a turn for the hazardous.
Good news: Entering Monday’s play, there were no league teams in the RPI bottom 10. Hey, take it where you can get it.

The usual reminder: All teams play Thursday-Saturday weekends, both home or both away. This week’s exception: “Travel partners” Florida Atlantic and FIU play each other in a single game Thursday.

My rankings, with results and schedule (RPI entering Monday’s games):

1. Middle Tennessee (17-3, 7-0, 35 RPI), d. FIU 65-52, d. FAU 86-57. After squishing the “F” schools, Saturday’s game with La Tech will be the game of the week. … maybe. This week: home vs. Southern Miss, Louisiana Tech.

2. Louisiana Tech (14-6, 6-1, 171 RPI), d. Rice 74-64, d. North Texas 81-57. Point guard DaQuan Bracey is a name you should know, as he was been named C-USA’s freshman of the week for the second time in a row. This week: at UAB, MTSU.

3. Marshall (12-8, 5-2, 95 RPI), d. WKU 94-80. UAB had to get punished for losing so grandly to FIU, so Herd is here. A sweep this week is a must, and 7-2 at the halfway mark would be really nice. This week: home vs. UTSA, UTEP.

4. Alabama-Birmingham (12-8, 5-2, 143 RPI), d. FAU 80-78, lost to FIU 94-85. Hakeem Baxter, who dumped 20 on Marshall, is day-to-day with a hyperextended knee with huge game looming Thursday. As he injured himself at FIU, the Blazers allowed the Panthers to shoot 65 percent. This week: home vs. Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss.

5. Old Dominion (11-8, 4-3, 158 RPI), lost to Charlotte 74-72. Despite their loss with 0.2 seconds left to 49ers, I’ll grudgingly keep Monarchs here. This week: at Rice, North Texas.

6. Charlotte (9-9, 3-4, 217 RPI), d. Old Dominion 74-72. After Jon Davis sank ODU with his last-second jumper, I am lifting this team up several spots. When you see who is behind, you this is not an overreaction. This week: at North Texas, Rice.

7. Rice (13-7, 3-4, 168 RPI), lost to La Tech 74-64, d. Southern Miss 61-58. I am one weekend from giving up on my preseason team of destiny, but a weekend sweep will change everything. This week: home vs Old Dominion, Charlotte.

8. Western Kentucky (9-11, 3-4, 221 RPI), lost to Marshall 94-80. Rick Stansbury might tell you, in the depths of privacy, this team isn’t great and he’s playing for the future. But even with a 4-game streak of double-digit losses, I raise this team a notch. This week: home vs. UTEP, UTSA.

9. Texas-El Paso (5-13, 3-3, 337 RPI), d. UTSA 59-39. After holding Roadrunners to 24 percent shooting, it’s clear the Miners woke up. This week: at WKU, Marshall.

10. Texas-San Antonio (9-10, 4-2, 316 RPI), lost to UTEP 59-39. Unfortunately for the Roadrunners, they woke up, too. This week: at Marshall, WKU.

11. Southern Mississippi (6-13, 3-4, 339 of 351 RPI), d. North Texas 75-65, lost to Rice 61-58. Have pity on the Golden Eagles, this week’s victims of the league’s toughest road trip. This week: at MTSU, UAB.

12. Florida Atlantic (5-13, 1-6, 332 RPI), lost 80-78 to UAB, lost 86-57 to MTSU. Owls hit last-second 3-pointer to set a misleadingly close score against Blazers. Blue Raiders simply trounced them. This week: at FIU.

13. Florida International (5-15, 1-6, 338 RPI), lost to MTSU 65-62, d. UAB 80-78. I never would have guessed Eric Nottage as someone who could score 37. This week: home vs. FAU.

14. North Texas (6-13, 0-7, 310 RPI), lost to Southern Miss 75-65, lost to La Tech 81-57. This week: home vs. Charlotte, ODU.

TV games — beIN Sports, UTEP at WKU, 8 p.m. Thursday. ASN: Louisiana Tech at UAB, 9 p.m. Thursday. FCS: UTSA at WKU, 4 p.m. Saturday. ESPN3: Southern Miss at MTSU, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, La Tech at MTSU, 6 p.m. Saturday.

Stat leaders

Top scorers: Elmore (MU) 20.5, Davis (Char) 19.5, McGill (FIU) 19.2.

Rebounders: Kessens (FIU) 9.4, McCree (LT) 8.8, Koulechov (Rice) 8.7.

Assists: Artis (UTEP) 6.2, Elmore (MU) 6.1, Bracey (LT) 5.7.

Top scoring teams: Marshall 87.8, Rice 81.7, Charlotte 78.7.

Top shooting teams: Middle Tennessee .486, Rice .478, Louisiana Tech .474. (Marshall 5th at .468)

Top 3-point % teams: Rice .392, Charlotte .391, Marshall .386.

Offensive rebound %: Old Dominion .373 (MU 11th at .249)

Defensive rebound %: UTSA .761 (MU 14th, .653)