Conference USA Basketball Top 5 Power Rankings: Feb. 28

Photo via MTSU Athletics

 

By Trace Johnson

As we approach the final week of regular season C-USA basketball action, the stakes for C-USA Tournament seeding implications have reached a season-high.  The four teams that will earn a first round bye in the C-USA Tournament will be decided this week and the race will probably come down to the wire.  Let’s take a look at the C-USA basketball top five power rankings for Feb. 28.

1) Middle Tennessee

MTSU maintains its top spot in the C-USA basketball top five power rankings after a big win this past week.  The Blue Raiders slipped past the UAB Blazers on Sunday on the road in their lone game this past week to officially clinch the outright C-USA regular season championship and they will be the top seed in the C-USA Tournament.  MTSU improves its overall record to 25-4 as well as 15-1 in C-USA play while winning its fifth straight game and 15th out of its last 16 games overall.  The Blue Raiders close out their regular season with two home games beginning Thursday night against Florida International and Saturday night against Florida Atlantic.  MTSU has had a season in C-USA play that is eerily similar to the John Calipari-led Memphis days and will be very hard to beat in the upcoming C-USA Tournament.  The Blue Raiders look to be destined for another NCAA Tournament appearance and hold steady atop the C-USA power rankings.

2) Louisiana Tech

The Bulldogs of LA Tech remain in the number two position in this week’s power rankings after splitting a pair of games this past week.  LA Tech took care of North Texas on the road on Feb. 23, but fell in a thriller at Rice on Saturday night.  The Bulldogs now sit at 21-9 overall and 13-4 in C-USA play and will be the number two seed in the upcoming C-USA Tournament.  LA Tech has one game remaining in its regular season Saturday at home against Southern Miss.  The Bulldogs have seen steady improvement throughout the season and have emerged as a true threat to MTSU’s reign among C-USA as the C-USA Tournament inches closer and closer.  LA Tech hopes that improvement leads to big things as postseason play comes around and it checks in at number two in this week’s C-USA top five power rankings.

3) Old Dominion

ODU maintains the number three spot in this week’s C-USA basketball top five power rankings after an impressive week.  The Monarchs handled Marshall at home on Feb. 23 and followed it up with another impressive home win against Western Kentucky on Saturday.  ODU currently sits at 18-10 overall and 11-5 in C-USA play in a tie for third place.  The Monarchs have two big games this week that begins Thursday night on the road at UTEP in a battle for outright possession of third place followed by another road game at UTSA Saturday.  ODU is in a great position to clinch a sought-after first round bye in the C-USA Tournament and just one win this week to close out the regular season would clinch it.  The Monarchs continue to impress and hold steady at number three in this week’s power rankings.

4) UTEP

UTEP checks in at number four in this week’s C-USA basketball power rankings after two road wins this past week.  The Miners won a close game at Florida Atlantic on Feb. 23 and swept the road trip with a win at Florida International on Saturday.  UTEP improves to 13-15 overall and 11-5 in C-USA play, good for a tie for third place with ODU and the Miners are winners of 11 out of their last 13 games overall.  UTEP has a crucial game Thursday night at home against ODU where the winner will have outright possession of third place in C-USA as well as another home game Saturday against Charlotte to close out the regular season.  After a dismal start to the season, the Miners have improved to the point where they can definitively clinch a first round bye in the C-USA Tournament with two wins to close out the regular season.  UTEP’s resurgence continues and it maintains the fourth spot in the C-USA power rankings.

5) Rice

Making their first appearance in the C-USA top five power rankings, the Owls of Rice hold the number five position after an impressive week.  Rice won an overtime thriller at home against Southern Miss on Feb. 23 and followed it up with a huge home win against second-place LA Tech on Saturday night.  The Owls now sit at 20-9 overall and 10-6 in C-USA play to hold sole possession of fifth place in C-USA and they remain in contention for a first round bye in the C-USA Tournament.  Rice has two key road games to close out the regular season that begins Thursday night at Marshall followed by another road game at Western Kentucky Saturday night.  The Owls have their first 20-win season since the 2003-04 season and can obtain a first round bye in the C-USA Tournament with two wins along with two losses by either ODU or UTEP.  Rice is a program on the rise in C-USA and checks in at number five in the C-USA power rankings.

Numbers 6-14

6) Marshall

7) UAB

8) Western Kentucky

9) Charlotte

10) UTSA

11) Florida Atlantic

12) Southern Miss

13) Florida International

14) North Texas