C-USA growing up

Evan Daniels explains how C-USA has grown up with a strong out of conference showing during the regular season.

Conference USA was formed a mere eight years ago and during this short time span has grown on all cylinders.  Magnificent coaches have been hired and are leading this conference to become a more nationally recognized conference.  Drastic improvements have been made over the past year.  Let's take a look at how the teams in Conference USA faired against the Major six conferences this year:

C-USA vs. Big East
9 wins        2 wins
C-USA vs. Big Ten
4 wins         4 wins
4 wins         7 wins
2 wins         1 win
C-USA vs. Big 12
3 wins         7 wins
C-USA vs. Pac 10
1 win        2 wins

After adding up the wins, you will find out that Conference USA won 23 out of the 46 non-conference meetings this year, which is exactly 50%.  C-USA dominated the games in the Big East series and had a winning record over the almighty ACC.  As well going 50% against non-conference teams, the league has taken down many league champions such as UK form the SEC, Wake Forest for the ACC, Wisconsin for Big 10, and Syracuse for the Big East.   Conference USA improved greatly over this one year period.  Last year verses the Major six, non-conference foes, C-USA only won 17-41 games which is around 30%.  Here are the numbers broken down:

C-USA vs. Big East
1 win        8 wins
C-USA vs. Big 10
4 wins        5 wins
5 wins       12 wins
C-USA vs. Big 12
3 wins        7 wins
C-USA vs. Pac 10
0 wins        4 wins

Conference USA is expecting to get 4 teams into the NCAA tournament this year.  All 4 could quite possibly do very well.  Louisville shows great emotion on the court and with Rick Pitino and Reece Gaines leading the way anything is possible.  Marquette is lead by a terrific player in Dwayne Wade and scrappy 3-point shooter Travis Diener.  Memphis has ridden the shoulders of big man Chris Massie.  Massie is an absolute beast in the lane and one defender can't stop Massie from getting to the basket.  Cincinnati is the last of the conferences four expected NCAA tournament bids.  UC uses tenacious defense to overcome opponents and although the Bearcats have had trouble scoring, if they begin to hit their shots it could be blow out city.

The conference also has a new champion  for the first time in its 8 year history.  8th ranked Marquette, the new conference champion, has become a dominating team of late and has a strong candidate for National Player of the Year honors in Dwayne Wade.  But Wade is not the only C-USA player mentioned for Player of the Year awards.  UofL product Reece Gaines has made a strong case for himself in leading an unexpected Cardinal team to a 21-6 record including a national ranking as high as #2 this season.

But the strange thing is that one major college basketball analyst still considers C-USA a mid-major conference and I think that is nothing but a slap in the face.  Top to bottom C-USA isn't a great conference but I would put Marquette, Memphis, Cincinnati, and Louisville up against any other team in the nation and expect a victory.  Not only does this conference deserve our respect for what it has done in only a few years it deserves our support.

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