Inside Marshall Sports

Conference USA rankings, 2/26

Peeking at Warren Nolan’s RPI rankings, Conference USA is 15th of the 32 conferences, which may be as high as you can possibly expect. The Mid-American Conference is 11th, which it never was when MU was in that league. In 16th? The Southern Conference, if you can believe it. Anyway, this will be my final rankings, at least in this format. See any resemblance to the league standings?

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 20-9, but that includes a win over Concord.

1. Middle Tennessee (22-5, 15-1)
Last week: beat UAB 79-54
Thursday/Saturday: home vs. WKU, Marshall
Quality wins
Murray State 72-67, Vanderbilt 66-63, Ole Miss 77-58, Princeton 69-67, WKU 66-62, ODU 66-59, UAB 79-54
Good losses
Auburn 70-76, Belmont 63-69, USC 84-89, Miami 81-84
Bad losses
None

Notes: Blue Raiders torched UAB before a listed 9,717, about 2.5 times the actual crowd at football games.

2. Western Kentucky (21-7, 14-2)
Last week:
beat Charlotte 93-55, ODU 88-66
Thursday/Saturday: at MTSU, UAB
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, ODU 88-66
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: OK, Tops, I still think you’re the best team in the league. Go to Murfreesboro and prove me correct. BTW, congrats to Justin Johnson on that Senior Night engagement. Smooth.

3. Old Dominion (22-6, 13-3)
Last week:
Beat Marshall 84-79, lost to WKU 66-88
Thursday/Saturday: home vs. FAU, FIU
Quality wins
Dayton 75-67, Towson 57-54, Marshall 82-76, Marshall 84-79
Good losses
VCU 75-82, William & Mary 77-79 (halfcourt shot at buzzer)
Bad losses
None

Notes: Not sure how to interpret Monarchs going down 29-9 out of the game at WKU. Did Marshall wear them down two nights earlier, or are the Hilltoppers that good? Or both?

4. Marshall (19-9, 11-5)
Last week: Lost to ODU 79-84, beat Charlotte 103-75
Thursday/Saturday: at UAB, MTSU
Quality wins
Louisiana Tech 78-65, MTSU 73-63, UAB 76-68 (OT)
Good losses
Xavier 77-81, ODU 79-84
Bad losses
Morehead 83-86, UTSA 77-81

Notes: Jon Elmore wins his 3rd Player of Week honor, though he and C.J. Burks missed shots in the final minute vs. ODU. But rebounding was the killer there.

5. UTSA (14-12, 10-6)
Last week:
beat Southern Miss 64-56, La Tech 74-64
Thursday/Saturday: at North Texas, Rice
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: The Roadrunners beat La Tech without Jhivvan Jackson, but they know that’s no way to live. Will he return this week?

6. Alabama-Birmingham (15-12, 8-8)
Last week:
Lost to MTSU 54-79
Thursday/Saturday: home vs. Marshall, WKU
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, MTSU 54-79

Notes: It’s not every day you lose by 25 and get raised in these rankings. But when somebody gets swept by FI/AU, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.

7. North Texas (12-15, 7-9)
Last week: lost to FIU 68-69, FAU 54-74
Thursday/Saturday: home vs. UTSA, UTEP
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, FIU 68-69, FAU 54-74

Notes: Shot 31.3%, committed 17 turnovers that led to 20 points at FAU. Grim week.

8. Louisiana Tech (14-14, 7-10)
Last week: lost to UTEP 72-74, UTSA 64-74
Saturday: at Southern Miss
Quality wins
Evansville 63-61
Good losses
Alabama 74-77, Stephen F. Austin 85-83, Western Kentucky 68-69
Bad losses
FIU 68-71, UTEP 72-74

Notes: I’m starting to run out of patience for notes material, especially on these guys.

9. Florida International (10-16, 7-9)
Last week:
beat Rice 69-68, North Texas 67-64
Thursday/Saturday: at Charlotte, ODU
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

10. Southern Miss (9-17, 6-11)
Last week:
lost to UTSA 54-64, UTEP 44-73
Saturday: home vs. Louisiana Tech
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, UTEP 44-73

11. UTEP (9-18, 5-11)
Last week:
beat La Tech 74-72, Southern Miss 73-44
Thursday/Saturday: at Rice, North Texas
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: Uh, oh. Miners led Southern Miss 38-15 at the half en route to a 73-44 smackdown. Might want to stay out of the fifth seed to avoid these guys.

12. Florida Atlantic (9-16, 6-10)
Last week:
Lost to Rice 76-79, beat North Texas 74-54
Thursday/Saturday: at Charlotte, ODU
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, Rice 76-79

13. Rice (4-23, 3-13)
Last week:
beat FAU 79-76, lost to FIU 76-79
Thursday/Saturday: home vs. UTEP, UTSA
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, FIU 76-79

14. Charlotte (4-22, 1-15)
Last week:
lost to WKU 55-93, Marshall 75-103
Thursday/Saturday: home vs. FIU, FAU
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, WKU 55-93

Notes: Gave up last 14 points of first half vs. WKU; fell behind 22-2 at Marshall. Oh, woe is the 49ers.