The league finished up its relatively underwhelming football season this past month, and now we can fully focus on the hoops leading up to the March conference tournament in Frisco.
The pre-season favorites UTEP are looking shaky, while the FAU Owls boast a perfect conference record so far. Jhivvan Jackson of UTSA is right at the nation’s leading scorer mark, which is something, but UTSA overall has been underwhelming outside of a decisive blowout win over Tech at the Convocation Center last night.
Something like a power ranking for you:
1. Louisiana Tech (11-4, 2-1)
Tech has been really good so far this season and while the loss at UTSA was significant, they are playing good basketball otherwise. The offensive numbers are stellar across the board, and they solid defensively. DaQuan Bracey is still rock-solid, while newcomer Kalob Ledoux has been great. This team can shoot it and defend. They beat up on USM twice before getting run out of the gym at UTSA.
2. FAU 11-5 (3-0)
The Owls are playing good basketball and have a nice record. They did not play the greatest non-conference schedule but that was never the way this team was going to challenge fro the Big Dance. They held serve at home to start conference play and then held off Rice in a tough Thursday night road game to stay perfect. They travel to Denton to face a solid Mean Green team next.
3. FIU 11-5 (2-1)
If you notice we are being generous to teams with wins and not necessarily impressive wins then you are correct. There is plenty of time for the real squads to reveal themselves through quality play. For now, we will acknowledge some of the teams that are winning. FIU plays a high tempo, has not really played anyone of note and won, and is still adapting to the roster. They did get a nice OT win on the road but dropped a game to NT in Denton.
4. North Texas 8-8 (2-1)
North Texas plays really solid defensively and is shooting really well right now. They struggle to close out the tight games they find themselves in against good competition, and that will hurt them, but when they are on they can look dangerous. Picked up a nice win vs FIU.
5. WKU 9-6 (2-1)
The Toppers lost Charles Bassey and that has caused some weirdness. There is still a ton of talent on this team and wins can be had through some quality coaching. Josh Anderson is a boss.
6. Marshall 8-8 (2-1)
This team still plays at a high pace and still has good talent on it. There may not be all-conference talent here, and while Taevion Kinsey is fun, he is not the greatest threat from distance and that hurts the team a bit.
7. UTEP 10-6 (1-2)
This team is talented but still putting things together. The offense doesn’t look crisp, even if some guys are getting numbers.
8. Charlotte 8-5 (2-0)
This team is molding itself into the Virginia clone it was designed to be. The talent level is no where near those guys, but the defense has been outstanding. We would like to see more from the offense, in particular its highest usage guys but again that is part of the mover-blocker system.
9. ODU 6-9 (2-0)
There are some transfers (out) and a losing record for the defending champions. This was always going to be a tough transitionary year but Jeff Jones scheduled tough and his team is going through the growing pains. Xavier Green has been shouldering more of the scoring burden but has not been as efficient as the departed Caver and Stith were. No knock on him there.
10. UAB 10-6 (1-2)
Zack Bryant was dismissed from the team, and this offense is not fun to watch but they managed to beat WKU in Birmingham. Tavin Lovan had 16 and 4. He has been really great for the squad all season. There are rumbles around the program but this team is not bad.
11. UTSA 7-9 (1-2)
The strength of schedule has been meh, and this team has underperformed relative to expectations but Jhivvan Jackson is still a must-see. Keaton Wallace is overcoming a slump and they showed Louisiana Tech what a fully operational Runner squad can do on Thursday. They can shoot themselves into or out of a game on any night. They need a little more defensively to be taken seriously, however.
12-14. Rice, Southern Miss, Middle (0-3)
Rice had a nice little effort before losing the other night. Southern Miss is rebuilding still, and Middle is in year two of the turnaround.