Conference USA Basketball Top 5 Power Rankings: March 7

Photo via MTSU Athletics

 

By Trace Johnson

Postseason play is upon us across the landscape of college basketball and the C-USA Basketball Tournament is on the horizon.  After an exciting final week of action, the bracket is officially set in C-USA and the league’s 12 best teams will vie for a golden opportunity at a NCAA Tournament berth along with a C-USA Tournament Championship.  With that being said, let’s take a look at the C-USA basketball top five power rankings for March 7.

*these rankings are not based on the seeding in the C-USA Tournament*

 

1) Middle Tennessee

The Blue Raiders of MTSU finish the regular season as the top team in the C-USA basketball top five power rankings.  MTSU closed out the regular season with two wins over Florida International on March 2 in a much closer than expected outcome and a blowout win over Florida Atlantic on Saturday.  The Blue Raiders finished an outstanding regular season with a 27-4 overall record, 17-1 mark in C-USA play and a #25 final ranking in the Coaches Poll while winning the C-USA regular season crown as well as clinching the top seed in the C-USA Tournament.  MTSU awaits its opponent in the quarterfinals of the C-USA Tournament Thursday after clinching a first round bye and will play the winner of the Western Kentucky vs. UTSA matchup which takes place Wednesday.  The Blue Raiders have had a historic season and will be heavy favorites to win the C-USA Tournament Championship for the second straight season.  MTSU leaves no doubt in claiming the top spot in the C-USA top five power rankings.

2) Louisiana Tech

LA Tech finishes the regular season in the number two position in the C-USA top five power rankings after a big season finale home win.  The Bulldogs routed Southern Miss on Saturday to wrap up another successful regular season.  LA Tech heads into postseason play at 22-9 overall and 14-4 in C-USA play to earn the 2nd seed in the C-USA Tournament.  The Bulldogs earn a bye into the quarterfinals of the C-USA Tournament Thursday and await the winner of the UAB vs. Charlotte first round matchup which takes place Wednesday.  LA Tech continued its trend of being a top dog in C-USA this season and is arguably the biggest threat to MTSU in the upcoming C-USA Tournament.  The Bulldogs wrap up another stellar regular season in the number two spot in the C-USA power rankings.

3) Old Dominion

The Monarchs of ODU maintain the number three spot in the C-USA basketball top five power rankings at the close of regular season action.  ODU got a thrilling road win at UTEP on March 2, but fell at UTSA on the road on Saturday to close out the regular season.  Despite that blemish, the Monarchs still finished the regular season at 19-11 overall and 12-6 in C-USA play while earning the 3rd seed in the C-USA Tournament.  ODU gets an automatic bye into the quarterfinals of the C-USA Tournament and has a showdown Thursday with the winner of the first round matchup between Marshall and Florida Atlantic which takes place Wednesday.  The Monarchs surprised a lot of people within C-USA this season and remained towards the top of the league despite losing key talent from last season.  ODU hopes to surprise people in the C-USA Tournament and checks in at number three in the C-USA power rankings.

4) UTEP

UTEP closes out a wild regular season in the number four position in the C-USA basketball top five power rankings.  The Miners lost a heartbreaker at home to ODU on March 2, but rebounded with a season finale home win against Charlotte on Saturday.  UTEP’s up-and-down regular season wraps up with a 14-16 overall record and 12-6 mark in C-USA play to earn the 4th seed in the C-USA Tournament and finished the regular season by winning 12 out of its last 15 games.  The Miners await the winner of the first round showdown Wednesday between Rice and Southern Miss in the quarterfinals of the C-USA Tournament Thursday after securing a coveted first round bye.  UTEP sat with a lowly 2-13 overall record to start the season, but a drastic transformation righted the ship and it became C-USA’s best story this season.  The Miners will look to keep that momentum going in postseason play and they finish the regular season in the fourth spot of the C-USA power rankings.

5) Rice

The Owls finish their resurgent regular season at number five in the C-USA top five power rankings.  Rice knocked off Marshall on the road in a thriller on March 2, but fell at Western Kentucky on Saturday to close out the regular season.  The Owls head into C-USA Tournament play with their first 20-win season since the 2003-04 season and sit at 21-10 overall and 11-7 in C-USA play while earning the 5th seed in the C-USA Tournament.  Rice has a first round matchup with Southern Miss Wednesday and if it defeats the Golden Eagles, it will advance to the quarterfinals to face the 4th-seeded UTEP Miners.  The Owls had one of their best regular seasons in recent memory and can add to it with an impressive C-USA Tournament run.  Rice’s stellar regular season earns it the number five position in the C-USA power rankings.

Numbers 6-14

6) Marshall

7) Western Kentucky

8) UAB

9) UTSA

10) Charlotte

11) Southern Miss

12) Florida Atlantic

13) Florida International

14) North Texas