Inside Marshall Sports

Conference USA rankings, 2/20

Two weeks left in the season. Middle Tennessee probably won’t clinch the regular-season championship this week, but could be awfully close.

As always, teams are not ranked by RPI or necessarily league standings. Important: Overall records are against Division I teams only. For instance, Marshall is 19-8, but that includes a win over Concord. The rankings will not be reshuffled until next week.

1. Middle Tennessee (21-5, 14-1)
Last week: at Southern Miss 72-62, La Tech 87-70
Saturday: home vs. UAB
Quality wins
Murray State 72-67, Vanderbilt 66-63, Ole Miss 77-58, Princeton 69-67, UAB 63-60, WKU 66-62, ODU 66-59
Good losses
Auburn 70-76, Belmont 63-69, USC 84-89, Miami 81-84
Bad losses
None

Notes: It’s a tribute to coaching and administrative stability that MTSU has cracked the top 25 for the first time. Kermit Davis is in his 16th year, and athletic director Chris Massaro is in his 13th (I believe) year. … Last 3 games are not easy (UAB, WKU, Marshall), but those do come in the Murphy Center.

2. Western Kentucky (19-7, 12-2)
Last week:
beat North Texas 105-94 (OT), Rice 85-66
Thursday/Saturday: home vs. Charlotte, ODU
Quality wins
Purdue 77-73, SMU 63-61, Wright State 78-60, Louisiana Tech 69-68, Marshall 112-87, ODU 75-68, UAB 77-69, Marshall 75-64
Good losses
Belmont 72-75, Wisconsin 80-81, Villanova (No. 1) 58-66, Missouri State 80-85, MTSU 62-66
Bad losses
Ohio 84-89, UTSA 63-74

Notes: Hilltoppers and Marshall had their hands full with North Texas, but got the job done. Taveion Hollingsworth and Darius Thompson combined for 58 points vs. NT, continuing my dilemma on how to handle these guys in regards to all-conference selections.

3. Old Dominion (21-5, 12-2)
Last week:
Beat UTSA 100-62, UTEP 82-33
Thursday/Saturday: at Marshall, WKU
Quality wins
Dayton 75-67, Towson 57-54, Marshall 82-76
Good losses
VCU 75-82, William & Mary 77-79 (halfcourt shot at buzzer)
Bad losses
None

Notes: Monarchs warmed up for MU/WKU swing with the most dominant week of anybody during league play. Forty-nine-point win was ODU’s biggest in its Division I era.

4. Marshall (18-8, 10-4)
Last week: Beat Rice 93-80, at North Texas 74-72
Thursday/Saturday: home vs. ODU, Charlotte
Quality wins
Louisiana Tech 78-65, MTSU 73-63, UAB 76-68 (OT)
Good losses
Xavier 77-81
Bad losses
Morehead 83-86, UTSA 77-81

Notes: Herd was roughed up by ODU in first meeting, without Ajdin Penava at Norfolk. Yes, the Herd lost by 6, but went down by 23 early in the 2nd half.

5. North Texas (12-13, 7-7)
Last week: lost to WKU 94-102 (OT), Marshall 72-74
Thursday/Saturday: At FIU, FAU
Quality wins
San Diego 86-83
Good losses
Oklahoma 72-82, UT-Arlington 60-65, Old Dominion 60-63, MTSU 73-79, Marshall 72-74, WKU 94-102 (OT)
Bad losses
UT-Rio Grande Valley 63-75, Charlotte 68-70

Notes: The roster of “good losses” increased by 2 last week, and I’m going to keep the Mean Green right here. NT is in 7th place, and remember this is the sort-of host of the Conference USA tournament in Frisco, Texas.

6. UTSA (12-12, 8-6)
Last week:
lost to ODU 62-100, Charlotte 97-89
Thursday/Saturday: home vs. Southern Miss, La Tech
Quality wins
Marshall 81-77, WKU 74-63
Good losses
Oklahoma (AP No. 12) 85-97, Utah Valley 80-88, Nebraska 94-104
Bad losses
Coastal Carolina 69-83, FIU 76-79, ODU 62-100

Notes: In 5th place, Roadrunners are done with the top 4, finishing at North Texas and Rice. They can win any of 4 remaining games, but not all of them.

7. Alabama-Birmingham (15-11, 8-7)
Last week:
Lost to La Tech 60-73, beat Southern Miss 87-69
Saturday: at MTSU
Quality wins
Memphis 71-56
Good losses
Auburn 80-85, Buffalo 91-96, MTSU 60-63, Marshall 78-86 (OT), ODU 60-65
Bad losses
Richmond 50-63, UTSA 70-82

Notes: I’ll put them here despite shooting 35.9% in loss at La Tech (the teams split).

8. Louisiana Tech (14-12, 7-8)
Last week: beat UAB 73-60, lost to MTSU 70-87
Thursday/Saturday: at UTEP, UTSA
Quality wins
Evansville 63-61
Good losses
Alabama 74-77, Stephen F. Austin 85-83, Western Kentucky 68-69
Bad losses
FIU 68-71

Notes: Minus-19 in rebounds, 15-22 in points off turnovers vs MTSU.

9. Southern Miss (9-13, 6-7)
Last week:
lost to MTSU 62-72, UAB 69-87
Thursday/Saturday: at UTSA, UTEP
Quality wins
None
Good losses
Mississippi State 64-70, ODU 63-68
Bad losses
Florida State 45-98, South Alabama 58-69, MTSU 49-69, FIU 70-76

10. Florida International (8-16, 5-9)
Last week:
lost to FAU 72-77
Thursday/Saturday: home vs. Rice, North Texas
Quality wins
None
Good losses
Elon 87-95, MTSU 66-71 OT
Bad losses
Stetson 64-70, Hartford 72-79, James Madison 67-76, UTEP 68-72, Rice 64-73, FAU 72-77

11. Florida Atlantic (8-15, 5-9)
Last week:
beat FIU 77-72
Thursday/Saturday: home vs. North Texas, Rice
Quality wins
None
Good losses
None
Bad losses
Arkansas State 63-64, South Florida 59-60, Texas Tech 54-90, Towson 52-76, Minnesota 60-95, UAB 44-75, Southern Miss 66-67, FIU 57-58

12. Rice (3-22, 2-12)
Last week:
lost to Marshall 80-93, WKU 66-85
Thursday/Saturday: At FAU, FIU
Quality wins
None
Good losses
Old Dominion 75-82
Bad losses
Eastern Kentucky 72-73, UT-Rio Grande Valley 67-69, Texas State 66-74, UTSA 66-79, UTEP 62-80, North Texas 70-74

13. UTEP (7-18, 3-11)
Last week:
beat Charlotte 87-86, lost to ODU 33-82
Thursday/Saturday: home vs. La Tech, Southern Miss
Quality wins
Washington State 76-69
Good losses
Boise State 56-58
Bad losses
New Mexico State 60-80, Appalachian State 72-76, FAU 66-73, MTSU 50-81, ODU 33-82

Notes: In pathetic effort at ODU, Miners had 7 assists, 5 points off turnovers, 2 fast break points, 17 turnovers and 27.5% shooting from the floor. Way to duck that adversity, Tim Floyd.

14. Charlotte (4-20, 1-13)
Last week:
lost to UTEP 86-87, UTSA 89-97
Thursday/Saturday: at WKU, Marshall
Quality wins
None
Good losses
MTSU 73-78
Bad losses
James Madison 82-87, Chattanooga 50-64, South Florida 76-78, Rice 64-73, UTEP 86-87

Notes: Losing to UTEP at home is rock bottom these days.