Conference USA Basketball hopes to extend its season into the NCAA Tournament. Here are the latest Bracketology projections for the men and women.
13-Seed North Texas vs 4-Seed Oregon (West Region)
Pod play was meant to raise the profile of the conference, enabling the top teams to gain additional resume-building wins. We haven’t seen that ideal play out yet. As things currently stand, Conference USA looks to be a one-bid league once again.
Louisiana Tech and Western Kentucky are currently the two teams on the outside looking in. Tech owns the conference’s best record at 20-7 and sits at No. 73 in Kenpom’s ratings, two spots ahead of North Texas (No. 74th).
It’s conceivable that either North Texas or Louisiana Tech could run the rest of the table in the regular season before the other wins the conference tournament. Even then, it would take an exceedingly weak bubble to get two C-USA squads into the field this year.
11-Seed Western Kentucky vs 6-Seed TCU (Fort Wayne Region)
11-Seed Old Dominion vs 6-Seed Kentucky (Greenville Region)
The women have a much better chance of getting multiple bids. Old Dominion and Western Kentucky are both projected to be in the field right now. They’ve each compiled an RPI in the Top 35, well within the range of an at-large selection should they fail to clinch an automatic bid.
Defending Conference USA Basketball Tournament Champion Rice is tied with Old Dominion atop the standings. Rice doesn’t have the resume to get in without winning the tournament, whereas both Old Dominion and Western Kentucky could secure a spot with a few more wins down the stretch.
It’s more likely the women get three teams into the NCAA Tournament than it is for the men to get two representatives. The Rice women would have to win the tournament with some bubble help for the other squads, but it’s starting to look like more of a legitimate possibility than anyone might have thought a few months ago.