Conference USA basketball is approaching the halfway point of league play, but a major shakeup over the weekend has changed the complexion of the top of the standings.
The action is getting more unpredictable every week and as we approach the month of February, the league is wide open with several teams vying for the right to be called the best in C-USA. With that being said, let’s take a look at the C-USA basketball power rankings for Jan. 23.
1. Middle Tennessee (14-5, 6-1)
The Blue Raiders of MTSU have been the flagship of C-USA basketball over the past couple of years with back-to-back C-USA Tournament Championships and a win in each of the past two NCAA Tournaments. And through non-conference play and the beginning of C-USA play, MTSU looked like it was still the team to beat.
However, the emergence of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and their 6-0 start to C-USA play changed that notion. The Blue Raiders’ 15-game C-USA winning streak was snapped in a road loss at Marshall on Jan. 18, but they responded with a huge win at WKU on Jan. 20 to snap the Hilltoppers’ unbeaten mark in C-USA play through the first six games of league play.
MTSU returns to action Thursday night against UTSA and Saturday night at home against UTEP. It’s still any teams’ league, but MTSU’s big win at WKU over the weekend gives the Blue Raiders the number one position in the C-USA basketball power rankings.
2. Western Kentucky (14-6, 6-1)
WKU’s resurgence this season has immediately elevated the Hilltoppers towards the top of C-USA basketball. WKU had a very solid non-conference resume and with added additions to the lineup along the way, C-USA play began very well with a 6-0 start.
The Hilltoppers knocked off UAB on Jan. 18 in a hard-fought battle at home to set up a major showdown with MTSU at home in front of a sold out crowd at Diddle Arena. But the Blue Raiders knocked off WKU in another hard-fought, close game with big plays towards the end. With the loss, the Hilltoppers fell to 6-1 in C-USA play and tied for first with MTSU and Old Dominion.
WKU will look to get back on track Saturday night at home against Marshall in the rematch after a 25-point win for the Hilltoppers at the Herd in early-January. Despite the loss to MTSU, WKU remains among the best teams in C-USA and checks in at number two in the power rankings.
3. Old Dominion (15-4, 6-1)
The Monarchs of ODU have remained a consistent program in C-USA basketball since joining the league, and the same can be said so far this season. ODU got off to a solid non-conference start to the season and that momentum has carried over into C-USA play.
A successful past week has improved the Monarchs to 6-1 in C-USA play after two road wins against Florida International on Jan. 18 and Florida Atlantic on Jan. 20. ODU is not viewed at by most in the same light as MTSU or WKU, but the Monarchs are not to be taken lightly and currently sit in a tie for first place in C-USA.
ODU returns home for a showdown with Charlotte on Jan. 27 looking to improve to 7-1 in C-USA. The Monarchs have been flying under the radar, but they are a threat to be taken seriously and hold the number three position in the C-USA basketball power rankings.
4. Marshall (14-6, 5-2)
The Marshall Thundering Herd has been on a roll as of late, establishing itself as a legitimate threat in C-USA play. The Herd had a solid non-conference season, but once C-USA season started, its health was an issue and Marshall lost two of three games to fall to 3-2 in C-USA play.
But the past two games since the Herd has been healthy have been huge with home wins over MTSU on Jan. 18 and UAB on Jan. 20. Marshall has been gaining momentum over the past couple seasons and if this past week means anything, the Herd will be a major factor in C-USA play moving forward and currently sits just one game back of first place.
The Herd has a key road game at WKU on Jan. 27 with a chance at redemption following a blowout loss to the Hilltoppers in early-January. Marshall keeps getting better and checks in at number four in the C-USA power rankings.