Conference USA spent two weeks releasing its Preseason All-Conference USA men’s and women’s basketball team. Unfortunately for Mississippi sports fans, neither the University of Southern Mississippi men’s team nor the women’s team landed a player on that list.
In addition to selecting standout players from the upcoming season, coaches from the conference voted on the order that teams would finish, predicting favorites for the upcoming season. The Southern Miss men’s team fell in 10th place in the 14-team league, as the program continues to rebuild after NCAA sanctions.
Middle Tennessee State University was the coaches’ pick to win the conference title this year with eight first-place votes. The University of Alabama at Birmingham received four first-place votes for a predicted second-place finish.
Voters picked Louisiana Tech University to finish third, with the Bulldogs receiving the final two first-place votes. The coaches predicted that Old Dominion University will finish fourth and the University of Texas at El Paso will finish fifth. Western Kentucky University was the sixth choice, with Marshall University in seventh place and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in eighth place.
On opposite sides of USM, the University of Texas at San Antonio had a ninth-place prediction, and the University of North Texas was next in 11th place. Florida Atlantic University landed in the 12th spot, Rice University was in the 13th spot, and Florida International University came in a last place in the conference preseason predictions.
The USM women’s basketball squad fared a little better than their male counterparts, with a predicted sixth-place finish.
Middle Tennessee is the top choice on the women’s side, as well, with six first-place votes. Western Kentucky earned eight first-place votes, but ended up as the pick to finish in second place. No other team in the conference earned a first-place vote on the women’s predictions.
Louisiana Tech was the coaches’ pick to finish third, with Charlotte anticipating fourth place and Rice in the fifth spot. After USM, the voters selected Alabama-Birmingham women’s team to finish seventh with North Texas selected to finish eighth.
Marshall landed in the ninth spot, Old Dominion came in 10th place, Texas-El Paso came in 11th, and Texas-San Antonio followed in 12th place.
Florida Atlantic took the 13th spot in the coaches’ predictions, and Florida International once again fell in last place. Middle Tennessee junior Alex Johnson was voted C-USA Preseason Women’s Player of the Year.
Last season, only the C-USA Tournament champion reached the NCAA, as the conference failed to earn any at-large bids. It is highly likely that will happen again this season since the major conferences earn more at-large bids each season.
The Southern Athletic Association, which is home to Millsaps University, is the lone conference at this point not to have released preseason men’s or women’s basketball predictions.