After two weekends of some close games and some near-misses, we have the top four rounding into view. Marshall beat North Texas last night in a thriller to essentially seal up the fourth spot and earn a first-round bye.
Middle has the first seed and has beaten WKU once already. They have UAB, WKU, and Marshall as the next three games all in the friendly confines of Murfreesboro, TN. The Blue Raiders are rounding into form just in time for the tourney. Nick King was named player of the week for Feb 12th and propped up his team on the road in Denton.
ODU is hoping for Middle to drop one or two of their next games while beating all of Marshall, WKU, FAU, and FIU. The Florida teams are tough, despite their records, and WKU will be at home in the matchup on the 24th of February.
Meanwhile WKU has the best shot at stealing back the first seed in the tourney. The Hilltoppers have both Middle and ODU and are very capable of beating both at home or on the road.
Of The Rest, North Texas has proved it can play with anyone in the league — going to the wire with WKU, Middle, ODU, and Marshall this season. Competing with, and beating are two different things, however, much to the chagrin of the demanding fan in Denton.
Tech has the talent to play with anyone even if they have played below it this season and Southern Miss has jumped up and surprised teams.
UAB is in the same category as Tech, a good team that would unsurprisingly hang with anyone but with a shaky resume. UTSA has actually beaten Marshall and WKU at home thanks to ridiculous shooting and some early start times. The Roadrunners have two players that have been named freshman of the week in Jhivvan Jackson (6 times) and Keaton Wallace (3 times). When hot, UTSA can shoot with anyone in the league and that is an ingredient for upsets.
As of right now the bracket would look like this:
8 – La Tech
9 – USM
5 – UTSA
12 – UTEP
7 – North Texas
10 – FAU
6 – UAB
11 – FIU
1 – Middle Tennessee
4 – Marshall
2 – ODU
3 – WKU
6/11 – Winner