The league basketball season has seen some disappointments — UTEP — and some surprises — Charlotte — but it has been entertaining and that is all we can reasonably ask of these kids. The big matchup this week between Tech and North Texas was entertaining if you like drama, even if there was a stretch of play where no one scored for 3 minutes. It ended on a buzzer-beater and again, that is fun.
1 WKU 12-6, 5-1
Last week we had them fifth. Since they’ve gone 3-0, beating Middle, ODU, and most impressively, Charlotte 80-63 today at Diddle. There is a back-to-back series with Marshall coming up. Tavion Hollingsworth had 30 and was tremendous last game.
2 North Texas 11-8, 5-1
The Mean Green went to Ruston, where they hadn’t won since the 50s, and pulled off a buzzer-beating win. The finish was controversial but the fact that NT played well all game is not. They jumped out to a big lead and held on with good defense. This team still has a glaring weakness in execution in crunch time, but puts themselves in position to win, which is more than half the battle.
3 Charlotte 10-6, 4-1
The 49ers play tough defense and execute well. They picked up a good win over Marshall on the road but fell apart against a good WKU team. Even if this team cannot maintain this pace against the top of the league, the fact is that the program is on the right track.
4 Louisiana Tech 13-5, 4-2
Tech has lost twice and only one was a disappointment. Daquan Bracey didn’t play well at home vs NT. We can maybe wonder how much of their advanced ratings were inflated by the Southern Miss squad week — playing them twice.
5 FAU 12-7, 4-2
The Owls opened 3-0 and then went 1-2 after, dropping a game to NT. They went to OT against Middle and then lost to UAB at home. They still have a winning record in the league, and that means something.
6 FIU 9-6, 4-2
After the 2-1 start, they dropped one to Rice away, but beat UAB at home. The pace they play at is more reckless than its intended havoc-inducement. This is still a work-in-progress.
7 UAB 12-7, 3-3
The Blazers have beaten Western and Marshall and got by FAU today. They are the kind of team that is frustrating to watch on offense but play solid defense. In many ways they are similar to WKU in that they are doing what they can without the roster they expected to have.
8 UTSA 9-10, 3-3
The Roadrunners play well in stretches and look unstoppable, but they suddenly reveal their over reliance on two talented, but limited shooters. Since their 1-2 start, they’ve split with UTEP, but frustratingly blew a 24-point lead in one. They nearly lost another in this one before pulling away late in the 2nd half. They also got over on hapless USM. I could be convinced of their ability to beat anyone and also lose the rest of the way to those above them on this list.
9 Marshall 9-10, 3-3
I like watching Tavion Kinsey and Jarrod West is a solid player The rest of the squad is best described as not having two guys that tore up the league.
10. UTEP 11-8, 2-4
UTEP is talented, but very flawed. They came back against UTSA in mid week but fell behind big again in San Antonio. They tried to comeback but it fell short. That suggests there is a motivation problem.
11 ODU 6-12, 2-3
The Monarchs are in rebuild mode, and it shows. Xavier Green is still not as efficient as his predecessors but they play hard and tough on defense.
12-14 Rice, Southern Miss, MTSU
Rice plays teams tough, Southern Miss only beat Rice, and MTSU has been uncompetitive for the most part.