Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Conference USA tournament preview

This is part 22 of a 32-part series previewing every conference tournament in the country.  We'll detail what you need to keep track of in each tournament and the various stakes for each team.

The standings:
Middle Tennessee 17-1
Louisiana Tech 14-4
Old Dominion 12-6
UTEP 12-6
Rice 11-7
Marshall 10-8
UAB 9-9
Western Kentucky 9-9
Texas-San Antonio 8-10
Charlotte 7-11
Florida Atlantic 6-12
Southern Miss 6-12
Florida International 3-15
North Texas 2-16

Tournament format:
UAB (Birmingham) is the host.  Wednesday March 8 to Saturday March 11.  Only the top 12 get invites, so we cut some dead weight.  Bye UNT, and we split up the F_Us :(

The matchups:
1) Middle Tennessee vs. 8/9) Western Kentucky/Texas-San Antonio
4) UTEP vs. 5/12) Rice/Southern Miss
3) Old Dominion vs. 6/11) Marshall/Florida Atlantic
2) Louisiana Tech vs. 7/10) UAB/Charlotte

The stakes:
CUSA is RPI 23, translating to about a 14 seed.  However, they're all over the place.  Let's get the easy stuff out of the way first.  UTEP is RPI 240...and a 4 seed here.  Good God.  Any non-MTSU champion is at risk of the 16 line, although LaTech and ODU are probably 15 seeds with their overall profile.

Now, Middle Tennessee.  Are they an at-large team?  4-1 vs. the Top 100, wins over UNCW, Ole Miss, Vandy, and Belmont in its pocket.  Losses to UTEP, Tennessee St, and Georgia St.  Ouch.  It's kind of the poor man's version of Monmouth's profile that was left out last year.  However, I think that profile is in better shape on this year's bubble.  All this is my way of saying that I think I'd project them in the field, but also that this is exactly the type of team I've missed on in the past.  So I'm not going to feel very comfortable either way about them.  So I plead to them:  win the damned tournament.  I have a feeling a 4th loss outside the RPI Top 100 is one too many, since there just isn't the silver bullet to save them.  A quality non-con SoS is one useful resume piece, as well as 11 true road wins...but Monmouth last year had those types of things as well.


In lighter news, ODU and LaTech should be CIT locks.  Rice won 21 games overall (!) so they could get there too.  Marshall and UAB are also over .500, but how many CUSA teams can fill the lesser tourneys?  Who knows.

1 comment:

HenryMuto said...

MT should be in win or lose but just win it guys.