Week 4 of CUSA play continues with six games Thursday night and seven more to follow on Saturday. Let’s take a look at the match-ups.
Marshall (5-0) @ Charlotte (1-4)
The Herd continues their four game road trip with trips to Charlotte and Old Dominion. Marshall and it’s travel partner, Western Kentucky, are the only two CUSA teams this year who will have to travel on the road for four consecutive games. Senior power forward James Kelly is making his case for CUSA Player of the Year averaging 25 points a game in conference play. I think the winning streak continues for Marshall as well as the streak of 90 points scored.
Western Kentucky (2-3) @ Old Dominion (2-3)
Before back-to-back home losses to UAB and Middle Tennessee State, ODU had won 32 home games in a row. Senior Monarch guards Aaron Bacote and Trey Freeman will put this most recent losing streak to an end in hopes of keeping a position in the top four of CUSA.
North Texas (2-3) @ Middle Tennessee State (4-1)
MTSU has won their last 4 games and North Texas has lost their last two. The Blue Raiders have not lost at home since December 2. Giddy Potts and Reggie Upshaw are becoming one of CUSA’s most effective guard/forward duos.
Florida International (3-2) @ UTSA (2-3)
One of the bigger upsets in CUSA play took place this past Saturday when UTSA knocked off their Lone Star State neighbor UTEP. Florida International had their hands full with Southern Miss’s smaller, quicker guards and forwards in a loss at home on the same day. UTSA’s three double-digit scorers range from 6-foot-1 to 6-foot-4 and are effective off high ball screens. If the Roadrunners can shoot well from the perimeter they’ll win this game and move to .500 in conference play.
Florida Atlantic (2-3) @ UTEP (2-3)
Since joining the Conference USA in the 2013-14 season, FAU has never won consecutive home games in conference play. That changed last week. The Owls knocked off Southern Miss on Thursday and followed it up with a buzzer beater win against Louisiana Tech. However, FAU owns CUSA’s worst road record at 1-9 this season. UTEP will halt it’s 3-game losing streak and improve to 9-3 at home this season.
Rice (1-4) @ UAB (5-0)
Don’t let the Owl’s record fool you. Rice has CUSA’s leading scorer (20.3 PPG) in freshman guard Marcus Evans, and the leadership of four-year guard Max Guercy. However, the Blazers are too deep and too experienced for the young Owl’s to think about getting the upset. The future is bright for Coach Rhodes’ Rice team.
- Home Teams – 5 wins
- Road Teams – 1 win
Marshall @ Old Dominion *CUSA GAME OF THE WEEK*
When the Herd and Monarchs meet this Saturday it will be a clash of CUSA’s most prolific offense (Marshall, 82.2 Points Forced) versus the stingiest defense (ODU, 60.7 Points Allowed). It’s tough to imagine ODU losing 3-out-of-4 home games in a row, but, it’s become a reality. Freeman and Bacote will get their PPG averages, but there just isn’t enough offense from the rest of the team to keep up with the Herd.
FAU @ UTSA
I get the feeling UTSA has turned a corner. They’ve begun to work in more of an inside out game with O’Brien and Ringholt that’s resulted in a win over UTEP and a close loss at MTSU. A sweep of the Florida teams would put them at 4-3 in conference and the biggest surprise so far in CUSA play.
RICE @ MTSU
There’s a strong possibility MTSU and UAB don’t lose at home the rest of this season. I don’t see it happening this week either. The owls best chance at an upset is to outscore the Raiders. There’s not a player on Rice’s squad who can contain Upshaw, and few have had an answer for Potts this season. Rice will need to score 80-plus on the road to come away with a win in Murfreesboro.
WKU @ Charlotte
A 2-5 standing after week 4 would be catastrophic for WKU with Middle Tennessee and UAB coming into town next week. The Hilltoppers’ 7-foot-1 forward Ben Lawson and Charlotte’s 6-foot-10 center Joseph Uchebo should be a matchup of two of the best big man in the conference. The 49ers last three losses have come from a combined 3 points and an overtime loss. Charlotte could be coming into this game on a four game skid if they lose to Marshall on Thursday. I expect that streak to end and WKU go 0-2 on their road trip.
Louisiana Tech @ Southern Miss
The Golden Eagles have shocked many during conference play by beating Old Dominion in Hattiesburg and FIU on the road. La Tech defeated Southern Miss by 30 in Ruston just a few weeks ago. I expect La Tech to end their 2-game losing streak and pick up the win on the road.
North Texas @ UAB
The Blazers are 0-2 versus the Mean Green as CUSA members. North Texas is inferior at every position and they’ve been a disappointing 1-5 on the road this year. Expect this to be a lopsided affair for UAB.
FIU @ UTEP
The Miners will have a formidable big man to counter all-conference big man Adrian Diaz in 6-foot-11 center Hooper Vint. FIU’s junior guard Donte McGill has averaged 21.2 points per game in CUSA play. The Golden Panther’s have just enough pieces to be the first CUSA team to beat UTEP at home this year.
- Home Teams — 4 wins
- Road Team — 3 wins