Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

State of C-USA

February 9, 2004 Columns No Comments

Farewell to the “Old” Conference USA

by Zach Van Hart

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”

What a great line, huh? While that was talking about two cities, I’m using it to describe one conference, Conference USA. During the past week and a half, some of the biggest wins ever in conference history took place, displaying more than ever the balance that now exists in the conference. But who cares, because yet another school announced it’s leaving for the 2005-06 athletic season. Is anyone going to stay?

Last Saturday, two teams ranked in the Top 10 were in C-USA. Both teams were playing at home against unranked conference foes. Both top teams lost.

Three seasons ago, it would have been unheard of that two C-USA teams would even be ranked in the Top 25, let alone be two of the top teams in the nation. For these two teams to lose would be unexpected; for them to lose at home would be a bad joke.

Yet it happened. Charlotte marched in to Cincinnati, a place it had never won before and walked out with its second road win against a Top 10 team this season. Marquette walked in to Freedom Hall and beat Louisville, only one of the hottest teams in the country.

But the crazy wins did not stop there. Prior to this week, TCU’s biggest win during its first two-plus years in C-USA was, well, it didn’t really have a big win in C-USA. That was until the Horned Frogs went into Milwaukee and played the same Golden Eagles that just defeated Top 10 Louisville. Shocking everyone in the Bradley Center, TCU won 85-79, getting to .500 in conference play for the first time ever in February.

Just as the Horned Frogs win their first signature win during its brief C-USA tenure; it announced the end of its C-USA tenure. Only four days prior to defeating Marquette, TCU became the eighth university to announce its departure from C-USA during the past four months, deciding to move to the Mountain West Conference.

While losing the Horned Frogs is a much bigger loss on the football front compared to the basketball front, it still affects the conference on the court. TCU is a capable program that despite less than talent from the past two seasons is having its best season in three years. It would be one thing if the conference was having a down year; nothing could be farther from the truth.

Right now, five weeks before Selection Sunday, C-USA is in great position to send six teams to the NCAA Tournament. While Louisville and Cincinnati continue to sit high in the polls, both are trailing UAB for first place in the conference. This is not a fluke either. The Blazers are a great squad, filled with seven very capable players and led by senior shooting guard Morris Finley.

Charlotte is one of the most dangerous teams in not only C-USA, but all of America. With great play inside and out, they can play with anyone if their guards are hitting from deep. Memphis showed it’s for real by beating Louisville Wednesday night. The Tigers are amongst the conglomerate of teams with two losses in conference and have one of best and unheralded freshman in the country, Sean Banks.

Then there is Marquette. While they have now lost at home to TCU and to Southern Miss in Green Bay, they may not be bad losses after all. Obviously the Eagles are a talented bunch, if they went on the road to defeat Louisville and hung with Arizona and Wisconsin on the road too. While they are on the bubble right now, they deserve a bid.

So C-USA is finally a force in college basketball. What’s going to happen in two years? Of the six teams that will remain in the conference, only two are having good years this season (UAB and Memphis). Two are having decent to poor seasons (Southern Miss and Houston) and two have combined for one conference win (East Carolina and Tulane).

Now, it appears the key to C-USA’s survival is the return of UAB’s basketball program. A great team during the early to mid ’90s, the Blazers disappeared during the beginning of C-USA. Now they are 6-1 in conference play coming into Saturday and appear to be the team that will compete with Memphis staring in two years.

For now though, it’s anyone’s game. Five teams have a legitimate chance at winning the conference title. Last year’s conference champ appears out of the running, and the favorites as short as two weeks ago are now looking at tough roads to the title. In C-USA, it’s the best of times, as it tries to postpone the worst of times as long as it can.


Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 18, 2018

January 18, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about big road wins for a few teams, including a couple of bluebloods that looked destined for losses, as well as an unsettled Big Ten beyond one team, an SEC where you shouldn’t pay attention to bracketologists, and the problems with a proposed earlier start to the college basketball season.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 11, 2018

January 11, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about several big pieces of news away from game play, one of which puts a lot in perspective. We also talk about the lack of dominant teams and how this has shown up in the results, especially this past weekend.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 4, 2018

January 4, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we start with a big game in the Big East, then move on to the sudden lack of undefeated teams, a big injury in the ACC, and a powerhouse that looks vulnerable in a stacked conference they have long ruled.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – December 8, 2017

December 8, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a bizarre finish to an early-season tournament game, the Pac-12’s early struggles, Florida teams going in different directions and two northeast teams trending less relevant even as they excite fans at a famous arena.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – November 22, 2017

November 22, 2017 by

In our pre-Thanksgiving podcast, we look at a key injury that is likely to be devastating for his team and an under-the-radar 4-0 week, then move on to some early SEC impressions and a couple of teams that just continue to win.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.