Conference USA Basketball is just beginning conference play. Here’s where each of the teams stands entering the New Year.
|Team||Preseason Pick||KenPom||’21-’22 Record|
Frontrunners living up to expectation
Louisiana Tech and UAB were the only teams to receive any first-place votes in the league’s preseason poll. While much of the remainder of the conference was a mixed bag, it seemed almost certain that these two squads would be good. So far, that appears to be the case. Both narrowly missed on a handful of Power 5 marquee wins, but they enter conference play relatively unscathed and clear favorites to cut down the nets in Frisco.
That next tier of teams is where things get interesting. North Texas had high hopes following their NCAA Tournament run last season, but the Mean Green did have to do some reloading. They started conference play with a bang, demolishing Rice. They could play a factor in the conference title race if that team shows up night after night.
Western Kentucky and perhaps Marshall might be the only other dark horses remaining. KenPom doesn’t have any other C-USA schools in the top 175 right now. That middle tier featuring teams like rice, Charlotte and MTSU could make for good parity down the stretch.
Make or break
The most telling storyline over the next few weeks could be which teams play themselves out of the hunt early. Southern Miss wasn’t projected to be very good this year. At 3-9 entering conference play, they join Old Dominion as the only two teams that failed to reach C-USA play with at least a .500 non-conference record.
UTSA, UTEP, Rice and FAU all seem like teams that could go either way depending on the night. That could make the next several weekends important for seeding purposes down the line.
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