With only four to five games remaining – depending on the team – Conference USA could potentially have the regular season champion in North Texas. But things are very crowded behind Maine Green.
With a win over UAB on the road on Saturday, North Texas moved to 20-4 on the season and 13-1 in team play. Mean Green has now won 12 conference games in a row, and is solidly positioned at number one in the West.
Meanwhile, Middle Tennessee may rank number one in the C-USA East region, but its seat is getting hotter every day. Despite being 10-3 in team play, only 3.5 games separate the first from fourth in the East.
So what’s the big deal between where these teams end up if North Texas runs away with the Conference regular season title?
Seeding for a C-USA bracket.
The first and second seed from each division will enjoy a double bye in the conference tournament. As of now, North Texas is the only team that can say with confidence that it will take one or two places.
So, what teams stand a chance of securing that goodbye? What teams can make a fuss in the conference tournament? And what programs have a chance of making the NCAA Championship?
First, I want to say that I don’t think C-USA is more than just one show – and the two best resumes are North Texas and UAB. But both teams have one major flaw: they are currently on the same side of the Conference Championship category and will not meet in the final.
The best-case scenario for UAB would be to win, beat UNT in the semi-finals of the tournament – giving them another Quad 1 win – and then take the title.
The loss will keep UNT out of the big jig.
If a UAB loses to UNT – or anyone else – his resume isn’t strong enough (and so is UNT) to put it anywhere better than a bubble.
The winner of the C-USA Championship will get a ticket to the dance, nothing else is guaranteed for North Texas or UAB. They don’t have enough quality wins to push them into a full-scale attempt as a team other than the Power Five.
Anyway, here are the four teams that I think will secure seed one and two in the conference tournament. And while I think North Texas wins, the other three pose the biggest threat to the championship dreams.
The clear best team in C-USA, North Texas, took two votes in the AP poll to break into 25th place after its 12th straight win and first four-way win on Saturday.
Green averages 5-2 in Quad 2 games and is currently ranked 41st by KenPom and 37th by BartTorvik.
No team in the country limits its opponents in defense better than North Texas. The wrestling teams average just 56.4 points, grabbed 29.3 rebounds and fired 28.7% from depth against the green average.
Their attack wasn’t stellar, but Taylor Perry answered the call time and time again when his team needed it most. He doesn’t put in big numbers on goals, nor does he lead the country in any stats, but when North Texas is in trouble—when it’s their back against the wall—Berry delivers.
I think North Texas wins the regular season title, secures the single seed, wins the USA Championship, a team I’d be excited to see as their opponent in the first round.
The Blazers were expected to win the C-USA – they have the strongest attack in the conference and second best defense when it comes to modified defensive efficiency – but they suffered some heavy losses.
All of these defeats came far from home – other than the Blazers’ recent loss to the UNT. And I don’t think that will change when they head to the Conference Championships in Frisco.
UAB beat North Texas on the way back in January and lost by only one home lead, but the Blazers have gotten worse as the season progresses. North Texas and others have only improved.
I think UAB can secure second place in the West and the C-USA Tournament that comes with it, but the rest of the season—and in the postseason—I’m on the alert.
The Blazers are playing some tough teams to finish their season – not to mention their last game of the regular season coming home against Louisiana Tech.
The Blue Raiders lead the C-USA East and have been on a ripple since their loss to UAB on February 5. They are currently on a five-game winning streak, highlighted by their 87-79 victory over the FAU on Saturday.
The Blue Raiders have played three of their last five home games, unbeaten all season.
Central Tennessee’s biggest challenge will be against the second-placed team in the East, Western Kentucky, but I think he’ll secure a top seed in the championship and could be a serious contender.
MTSU leads the conference in defensive turnover and stealing ratio. But other than that, it’s not particularly great anywhere. However, they warm up in time, so do not lose sight of the raiders.
If it’s healthy, Western Kentucky is the best live dog in the conference, in my opinion. Hilltoppers have Jamarion Sharp (tallest player in college basketball), Dayvion McKnight (6th in C-USA with a score of 15.9 PPG) and a slew of talents up and down the roster.
And like MTSU, the Hilltoppers are heating up in time, as they are currently in seven straight games.
But after their win over Old Dominion, injury questions now surround Hill.
🚨 From Rick’s post-game Jairus Hamilton presumably has a tense patellar tendon. Also, we have a lot of questions about Jaylen Butz. He may be in the dog’s house, but he’s also got “infested feet.” S / O to Tweet embed To ask the difficult question.
Towel rack (TheTowelRackWKU) February 20 2022
Keep an eye on Hilltoppers’ injury updates, but if they’re healthy, they pose a serious threat to anyone in the conference.