Rice basketball dropped their final game to FAU before pod play, setting up a series of elimination games before the conference tournament in Frisco.
An up and down season saw another dip in Florida on Saturday. Rice basketball suffered their second consecutive road loss, falling to FAU 60-41. The loss drops the Owls to 5-9 in conference play this season.
A new wrinkle to the schedule in 2019, the final slate of games will be decided in pod play based on conference record. Teams that finish first through fifth in the conference standings will be in the first pod. Sixth through tenth seeds will be in the second pod. The final four teams, Rice included, will play in the lowest pod.
The uppermost pods are meant to enhance the strength of schedule for the conference’s top teams. No matter how each teams fairs in pod play, they’ll all be guaranteed a spot in the conference tournament. The same isn’t true for the Owls’ pod.
The Conference USA tournament has 12 spots to assign from 14 teams. That means the four teams in the bottom pod are playing for the final two spots in Frisco. Rice will battle it out with Middle Tennessee, Charlotte and UTEP in a series of four games.
Rice has defeated Charlotte and Middle Tennessee already this season. The Owls dropped a road contest to UTEP on a controversial call for which the conference issued an apology.
The team has had some bad outings over the course of the last two months, but the majority of their games have come down to the final minutes. If they play to their potential, Rice can finish in the top two of their pod and qualify for the conference tournament. Another series of games like Saturday, though, and the Owls will see their season end sooner than they’d like.
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