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Basketball Thoughts as We Head For Some Big Matchups This Weekend

Kenpom has Marshall rated the highest of the league teams.

  1. Marshall +11.87
  2. WKU +10.04
  3. UAB +9.50
  4. NT +9.80
  5. Tech +7.90

ODU is a far sixth at +0.45. The Monarchs got a big win vs Charlotte yesterday, on a layup late. Good stuff. Ultimately the records matter more than anyone’s ratings when it comes to seeding and awarding regular season championships. ODU is 6-3 in conference play, that is just one game behind WKU for the top of the East division.

UAB vs Louisiana Tech is a huge game. UAB is running away with the division if they continue like this, but a loss (and Tech has split against everyone ‘good’ in the conference) would put them back tied with NT.

UAB has a bad conference strength of schedule (not their fault) and we should note that, because the Techsters have the second toughest (to Marshall’s) so far. This is a good portion of why I have them second (that loss to UTEP was non-good) in the Power Rankings

My Power Rankings:

  1. UAB
  2. Tech
  3. NT
  4. WKU
  5. Marshall

To be absolutely clear, I think UAB is a good team and we will see that. I also think they have not been tested in conference play while Tech has taken and given out some of the best punches so far. It should be interesting for that simple fact.

WKU taking on Rice is fun, becuase I think watching Rice is fun and watching future POY Charles Bassey is also. I do not expect an upset here, but I would not be surprised by it.

NT vs Southern Miss should give us some highlights but nothing ridiculous. No upsets coming here either.

Friday, Feb. 12

Middle Tennessee at Marshall ESPN+ 5:00 PM
Florida Atlantic at UTSA ESPN+ 6:00 PM
UAB at Louisiana Tech Stadium 6:30 PM
Rice at WKU ESPN+ 7:00 PM
North Texas at Southern Miss ESPN+ 7:00 PM

I read an article this morning on Gonzaga and the road to building a powerhouse program from a Cinderella. Now, there is always a danger in making this the one reference when complaining about your favorite program much the way that TCU and Boise State have been for the last two decades. There are a lot of reasons that Gonzaga blew up and a good amount of that success has to do with some luck. As the article shows, however, a good amount of that is investment and dedication.

The CUSA leagues’ progression as basketball programs is held back in part by the fact that the football programs are a priority. This league is configured with football in mind first and basketball second. This is no surprise to some ODU fans, who have complained about just this fact for a while. It is very possible to build two quality programs at the same time, but it is just harder. Gonzaga football ended 80 years ago and UCF hoops is 5-11 this season. To be fair, BSU has had some quality hoops squads in the past decade.

To me what stands out most is that they won first. They got the wins in the big dance, and turned that into more success by sticking with a plan, reinvesting resources into the program — adding strength coaches, improvements etc — and did that through the wins they got.

Middle having fallen so far is an indicator of how shaky that foundation can be. They were dominant in the league for so long until the coach left and it all fell apart. WKU and ODU are the closest to taking the sport most seriously by dollar measure, but it has not translated to a Zag-like existence. It takes more than investment; it takes talent, and luck.

Photo by Alex Perez on Unsplash

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