Friday, February 22, 2013

C-USA Basketball: Can Marshall Secure a First Round Bye?

After registering its first road win of the season at UCF on Wednesday, Marshall sits one game behind ECU, Tulsa, and Tulane for fifth place and Conference USA’s final bye in next month’s league tournament. As the Thundering Herd learned last year, receiving a bye is crucial. Playing their fourth game in four days Marshall could not contend with a well rested Memphis squad, falling 83-57 in the championship.

Here is a look at C-USA’s current standings, just league records reflected.

1) Memphis: 12-0
2) Southern Miss: 10-2
3) *UCF: 7-5
4) UTEP: 7-5
5) ECU: 6-6
6) Tulsa: 6-6
7) Tulane: 5-6
8) Marshall: 5-7
9) UAB: 4-7
10) Houston: 4-8
11) SMU: 3-8
12) Rice: 1-10
*Ineligible for postseason play

Six teams (as indicated UCF is ineligible for postseason play) sit within two games of each other for what will ultimately be the third and fourth seed in the conference tournament. After scanning over the remaining schedules for UTEP, ECU, Tulsa, Tulane, Marshall, and UAB this is how I predict they will finish.

2/27 Houston: W
3/2 @ Rice: W
3/5 Memphis: L
3/9 @ SMU: W
Final C-USA Record: 10-6

2/23 @ SMU: W
3/2 @ Southern Miss: L
3/6 Tulane: W
3/9 Marshall: L
Final C-USA Record: 8-8

2/23 @ UCF: L
3/2 Tulane: W
3/6 SMU: W
3/9 @ Rice: W
Final C-USA Record: 8-8

2/27 UAB: W
3/2 @ Tulsa: L
3/6 @ ECU: L
3/9 Houston: W
Final C-USA Record: 7-9

2/23 UAB: W
3/2 @ Houston: L
3/5 Southern Miss: L
3/9 @ ECU: W
Final C-USA Record: 7-9

2/23 @ Marshall: L
2/27 @ Tulane: L
3/2 SMU: W
3/6 UCF: W
3/9 @ Memphis: L
Final C-USA Record: 6-10

If the scenario above plays out UTEP takes the third seed while ECU (head to head tiebreaker over Tulsa) earns the final tournament bye. Even though they finish with identical records Tulane is placed above Marshall because they own a head to head win over the Herd.

The good news for Marshall is that they virtually control their own fate. If the Herd wins out it is hard to imagine a scenario where they don’t finish in the top five.

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