Conference USA is having a fabulous year from top to bottom so far this season. With all but two teams above .500, there should be a furious battle to see who claims CUSA's spots in this year's NCAA Tournament....
When you ask your average college basketball fan what are the major conferences, most will say SEC, ACC, Big 12, Big 10, PAC 10, and the Big East. Conference USA does not come out of people's mouths too often. When you do ask people about C-USA, most think of the big three: Louisville, Cincinnati, and Memphis. But there is more to Conference USA than those three.
I just gave you six teams that have a legitimate shot of winning the conference. CBSSportsline.com is projecting five teams from C-USA will make the NCAA Tournament (Louisville, Marquette, Cincinnati, Charlotte and Memphis), and I would say three of those teams could roll into the Final Four in San Antonio. CBSSportsline also has four teams being "bubble bursts" come Selection Sunday (St. Louis, East Carolina, UAB, and Southern Miss).
Now the bad news for C-USA. Five of the nine teams I have listed above are moving to different conferences in the 2005-2006 season, not the '04-'05 season which some had previously thought. Rick Pitino, Tom Crean, and Bobby Huggins will be taking their ball clubs to the Big East along with South Florida and DePaul. Charlotte and St. Louis are being shipped off to the A-10 as well.
Those teams are going to be replaced by, donít hold your breath, Southern Methodist, Tulsa, Rice, Marshall, and Central Florida. Not very impressive to say the least. Give conference commissioner Britton Banosky some credit though. He is milking these teams for all there worth. The whole reason these teams are having a lame duck season is because Banosky has asked for $6-8 million form the Big East and nearly $10 million overall to replace the lost revenue if the five schools were to leave early to the Big East. That shows you how much they mean to this conference.
NEWS & NOTES