Final Conference USA Basketball Top 5 Power Rankings: March 14

Photo via MTSU Athletics

 

By Trace Johnson

With the conclusion of another exciting C-USA Tournament, the 2016-17 season of C-USA basketball comes to a close.  The league now gears up for postseason play with two of its teams playing in a postseason tournament.  Let’s take a look at the final C-USA basketball top five power rankings for March 14.

1) Middle Tennessee

The best team in C-USA from start to finish throughout the 2016-17 season wraps up an exceptional season in the number one position in the C-USA basketball top five power rankings.  The Blue Raiders secured their second straight C-USA Tournament Championship by defeating UTSA on March 9, UTEP on March 10 and then Marshall on Saturday to solidify their position as the class of C-USA.  MTSU finishes the season with an astounding 30-4 overall record and including the regular season and C-USA Tournament, a 20-1 record in league play.  The Blue Raiders head into their second straight NCAA Tournament appearance as the 12th seed in the South Region and have a first round date with the 5th-seeded Minnesota Golden Gophers of the Big 10 Thursday at 4 p.m. EST on TNT.  MTSU’s 2016-17 season was nothing short of historic for the program and after upsetting Michigan State in last year’s NCAA Tournament, the Blue Raiders will be out to do the same this time around.  MTSU wraps up the 2016-17 season as the undisputed top team in C-USA and number one in the top five power rankings

2) Marshall

The Herd’s stellar run in the C-USA Tournament earns it the number two position in the final C-USA basketball power rankings.  Marshall earned the 6th seed in the C-USA Tournament and went on an impressive run, defeating Florida Atlantic on March 8, 3rd-seeded Old Dominion on March 9 and 2nd-seeded Louisiana Tech on March 10 to earn its second ever trip to the C-USA Tournament Championship game.  Although the Herd fell to MTSU in the championship game, it secured its first 20-win season since the 2011-12 season by finishing 20-15 overall and 13-9 in C-USA play when including regular season and C-USA Tournament action.  Marshall will not be playing postseason basketball, but it has a lot of momentum heading into the 2017-18 season and will look to finish what it started this season and win the program’s first ever C-USA Championship.  The Herd secures the number two spot in the final C-USA top five power rankings.

3) Louisiana Tech

The Bulldogs of LA Tech finish the 2016-17 season in the number three position in the final C-USA top five power rankings.  After earning a bye into the quarterfinals, LA Tech made it to the semifinals of the C-USA Tournament by knocking off UAB on March 9, but ultimately fell to the Thundering Herd of Marshall on March 10.  The Bulldogs finish the season at 23-10 overall and including the regular season and C-USA Tournament, a 15-5 mark in league play.  LA Tech’s season comes to an end with no postseason play, but with all the returning talent it returns for the 2017-18 season, it should be considered a top contender in C-USA once again and a threat to win a C-USA Championship.  The Bulldogs’ stellar 2016-17 campaign earns them a final ranking of third in the C-USA basketball top five power rankings.

4) UTEP

The Miners finish their wild 2016-17 season in the number four spot in the final C-USA basketball power rankings.  UTEP, following a bye into the quarterfinals of the C-USA Tournament, defeated Rice on March 9 to advance to the semifinals.  But that is where the Miners’ C-USA Tournament run came to an end at the hands of the Blue Raiders of MTSU.  UTEP finishes the season with a 15-17 overall record and 13-7 record in C-USA play including regular season and C-USA Tournament play.  The Miners had a 12-game losing streak at one point this season and a 2-13 overall record, but turned things around in a big way and went on to win 13 out of their last 17 games overall with a C-USA Tournament semifinal appearance.  UTEP heads into the 2017-18 season with momentum and will look to build on its outstanding end to this season.  The Miners’ stellar end to the season earns them the fourth position in the final C-USA power rankings.

5) Old Dominion

ODU wraps up a productive season in the fifth spot in the final C-USA basketball top five power rankings.  The Monarchs did not have the C-USA Tournament showing they hoped for, however, and after earning a bye into the quarterfinals, they fell in a nail-biter to Marshall on March 9.  Despite this, ODU finishes the 2016-17 season with a 19-12 overall record and including regular season and C-USA Tournament action, a 12-7 record against C-USA foes.  The Monarchs surpassed expectations this season following the loss of key talent from the previous season and continue to make their mark in C-USA as a consistent winner.  ODU looks to improve during the 2017-18 season and once again compete for a C-USA Championship, but still finishes in the fifth position in the final C-USA top five power rankings.

Numbers 6-14

6) Rice  (will host San Francisco in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational Wednesday at 8 p.m. EST)

7) UAB

8) UTSA

9) Western Kentucky

10) Charlotte

11) Southern Miss

12) Florida Atlantic

13) Florida International

14) North Texas