UAB Blazer Bloggin’ will take an in depth look at every Conference USA Men’s Basketball game over the next eight days leading up to the Conference USA Tournament.
Saturday 2/27 Games
*NOTE – Teams are now listed by their current Conference USA Tournament seeds. Tie breakers have been implemented.*
Western Kentucky (9th) at UAB (1st)
- Last Meeting (1/28): The Tops broke UAB’s 14-game win streak in Bowling Green by a score of 69-62. The Blazer’s 62 points were the fewest they’ve scored in Conference USA play – only second to their 57 points in regulation at Old Dominion. William Lee and Nick Norton accounted for nearly half of UAB’s points with 30 combined. The Tops were balanced with four players scoring in double figures led by senior guard Aaron Cosby who hit five three-pointers.
- What’s at stake for the Hilltoppers? Speaking of Aaron Cosby, the senior hit five threes again Thursday in a win over Middle Tennessee in Murfreesboro. Cosby is averaging 17 points in the Top’s five games in February. Of the 6-9 teams in Conference USA, WKU holds tie breakers over FIU and North Texas. Even if the Tops lose to UAB Saturday, they are in a favorable position to remain a single-digit seed in the tournament with home games against Southern Miss and La Tech to finish the season. WKU is 10-4 at home this year.
- What’s at stake for the Blazers? At least a share of the regular season Conference USA title can be attained with a win Saturday. With a loss, the Blazers will need to at split the road trip to FAU and FIU next week at minimum. Tomorrow is senior day for the team’s lone upper class man, “Big Shot” Robert Brown.
Marshall (2nd) and Middle Tennessee (4th)
- Last Meeting (1/28): MTSU suffered their worst defeat of the season losing to the Herd 82-66 in Huntington. Marshall hit 12 three-pointers to Middle’s three. Reggie Upshaw and Giddy Potts were held to a combined 16 points and four Herd players scored in double-digits.
- What’s at stake for the Herd: Marshall was barely edged by the Blazers last night in a game where both offenses were clicking. The Herd are one game ahead of La Tech with the Bulldogs coming to Huntington next Thursday. Even if Marshall loses at MTSU tomorrow, the Herd can remain in second if they finish the season with wins at home over La Tech and Southern Miss. Statistically the Herd still have a chance to share or win the Conference USA regular season title. If UAB loses their final three games and Marshall wins theirs, the Herd will win Conference USA out right. If the Herd wins out and UAB loses two of the next three, the regular season title would be shared by the Blazers and Marshall with UAB owning the tie breaker and securing the number one seed in the tournament.
- What’s at stake for the Blue Raiders? MTSU is hanging on the fourth seed with Old Dominion just one game behind them. If Middle were to lose tomorrow, they’d remain the fourth seed in the tournament due to owning the tie breaker over the Monarchs. Middle has lost two home games in a row with another big test coming against Marshall tomorrow. The Blue Raiders haven’t lost three consecutive games at home since the 2008-09 season.
UTEP (6th) at Charlotte (7th)
- What’s at stake for the Miners? UTEP didn’t do themselves any favors losing at ODU Thursday who is one spot ahead of them in the standings. The Miners will likely need to win tomorrow at Charlotte and next Saturday at home against UTSA to have a chance of moving up to the four seed. UTEP went from scoring 91 at home against La Tech last week, to only scoring 53 at Old Dominion last night. The Miners won’t see a defense nearly as good tomorrow at Charlotte. The 49ers allowed UTSA to score over 90 points in regulation Thursday.
- What’s at stake for the 49ers? Charlotte scored more than 100 points for the third time this month Thursday in a double overtime win over UTSA. The 49ers have a lot to lose if they drop their game against UTEP at home Saturday. A road trip to North Texas and Rice could easily leave the 49ers 0-3 to finish the season. Charlotte has had trouble being consistent in conference play. It’s no knock against Coach Price’s coaching or the players effort though. A massive rebuilding process is under way and the 49ers are way ahead of schedule. It would be a surprise to no one to see Charlotte finish 3-0, which could yield as high as the fifth seed.
Rice (8th) at La Tech (3rd)
- Last Meeting (2/4): Alex Hamilton and Erik McCree accounted for 46 points as the Bulldogs beat the Owls in Houston, 90-78. La Tech’s 17-1 run in the second half proved to be too much for Rice to overcome.
- What’s at stake for the Owls? Rice currently holds the longest win streak in Conference USA at four games. The Owls defeated Southern Miss in overtime Thursday in Hattiesburg securing just their second road win in conference play. The slope is very slippery for Rice who has arguably the toughest remaining schedule with games at La Tech and at home against Charlotte and Old Dominion. If the Owls can go 2-1 in their last three games they’d finish .500 or better for the first time since 2011-12.
- What’s at stake for the Bulldogs? La Tech survived in overtime Thursday at home against North Texas. Coach Konkol sat Erik McCree for the second time in three games due to a nagging knee injury. The Bulldogs will certainly need the junior forward on Saturday. Rice is as hot as any team in the conference, and freshman guard Marcus Evans can score 30-plus in anyone’s gym. As usual, it’s late February and the Bulldogs are in the hunt for the regular season Conference USA title. However, UAB would have to lose the next three and La Tech win out. The Bulldogs would share the title with at least the Blazers, but would own the tie breaker and secure the 1 seed in the tournament. La Tech will finish on the road at Marshall and WKU, which has been the second toughest road swing behind UAB and Middle Tennessee.
UTSA (13th) and Old Dominion (5th)
- What’s at stake for the Roadrunners? Currently UTSA is 2.5 games behind Florida Atlantic with only two games left to play. FAU owns the tie breaker, which means the Roadrunners are this year’s Mayor of Poop Town.
- What’s at stake for the Monarchs? ODU is out of contention for the regular season Conference USA title. Of the four teams ahead of the Monarchs (UAB, Marshall, La Tech, MTSU), they only hold the tie breaker over the Bulldogs. Under the right circumstance ODU could climb as high as the two seed. With two of their last three games coming on the road, the Monarchs could fall back to the middle of the pack with a loss or two.
Florida International (11th) at Florida Atlantic (12th)
- Last Meeting (1/3): The Golden Panthers thumped the Owls 76-59 to open Conference USA play in early January. Adrian Diaz and Donte McGill combined for 45 points.
- What’s at stake for the Golden Panthers and Owls? After facing each other Saturday, both teams will finish the season at home against UAB and Middle Tennessee. It’s highly unlikely either team moves any higher they their current position in the standings. It is worth nothing that UAB has lost at both places each of the last two seasons.
North Texas (10th) at Southern Miss (N/A)
- What’s at stake for the Mean Green? North Texas is one of the teams in the 6-9 bottle neck. Strangely enough, North Texas, Florida International, and Western Kentucky all end their season with two home games. FIU has the slight edge over the trio having a home game tomorrow and two to finish. The Mean Green have been atrocious on the road this year at 1-11. If they can get by Southern Miss in Hattiesburg Saturday night they’ll welcome Charlotte and ODU to finish at home where they are 10-6 this year.