North Texas enters postseason play as they prepare to play Western Kentucky in the CUSA tournament. Lots of questions surround this team going into this tournament.
- Is Jeremy Combs healthy enough to play?
- Can North Texas fix their defensive issues?
- Will the road woes continue?
The match-up with Western Kentucky presents its issues as well. First off North Texas is 1-4 all time against WKU in tournament play. It always seems like the Hilltopers have NTs number. Secondly Western Kentucky’s offensive efficiency (148) ranks much higher than NT’s defensive efficiency(308). Thats been the story all year for North Texas. They haven’t been able to get stops when they needed it. To many defensive lapses, poor fundamentals, and communication issues. The communication issues stem from not playing that long together as a team. Finally with Combs not being a 100% who will step up to stop Justin Johnson? Combs held Johnson semi in check last game out, but WKU’s leading scorer could be matched up with FR Allante Holston. Holston is a decent defender, but he wont be able to stop Johnson in the post. Losing Combs or even having a limited Combs could also hurt North Texas on the defensive glass. WKU dominated the offensive boards last time out. It was NTs worst defensive rebounding effort of the season. The Mean Green gave up 17 offensive boards while only getting 20 defensive rebounds.
Tony Benford and Ray Harper are both likely coaching for their jobs. Both have talented teams. Now it comes down which coach can get his guys to execute at a higher level. Harper is 9-2 in conference tourneys, while Benford has won only one game. As bad as the match-up may seem they still have to play the game. North Texas could shock some folks. It has been the national trend lately for upsets in conference tournaments. Maybe Tony Benford can pick up his second postseason win and start this Mean Green basketball team on a run.
CUSA Tournament Predictions
Game 1: FAU vs UTSA
- Previous Match-ups: 86-81 FAU; 79-73 FAU
- Thoughts: UTSA is one of the worst teams in the country. FAU should win this game easily. Although never discount how tough it is for a team to beat an opponent 3 times in a row. Still though the Owls shouldnt have a problem.
- Winner: FAU
Game 2: WKU vs North Texas
- Previous Match-ups: 81-76 WKU; UAB 71-67
- Thoughts: Even with Jeremy Combs this would be a tough match-up for NT. I just dont see how Tony Benford who has won only postseason tourney game since his arrival at North Texas can win against WKU.
- Winner: WKU
Game 3: ODU vs FAU
- Previous Match-ups: 78-66 ODU;
- Thoughts: I actually think ODU has under performed this year. That being said Trey Freeman and the Monarchs suffocating defense should lead to a double digit victory for ODU.
- Winner: ODU
Game 4: Charlotte vs Rice
- Previous Match-ups: 102-73 Char; 88-75 Char
- Thoughts: Even though Charlotte lost last week to a North Texas team minus its best player, Im still picking them to win. Charlotte is a good offensive team, and Rice is a very poor defensive team. The Owls rank 343 in defensive efficiency. Charlotte should win easily.
- Winner: Charlotte
Game 5: UTEP vs FIU
- Previous Match-ups: 79-69 FIU; 84-74 UTEP
- Thoughts: FIU and UTEP are pretty evenly matched on paper. FIU has been a better road team. This game should be really close and could go either way. Im picking FIU to pull the upset.
- Winner: FIU
Game 6: UAB vs WKU
- Previous Match-ups: 69-62 WKU; 71-67 UAB
- Thoughts: While watching theses other Mid Major conferences Im noticing the fact that 1 seeds are really struggling. I wouldnt be surprised to see that trend continue in CUSA. WKU hasn’t been consistent throughout out the year, but they do match-up well with UAB. WKU is the only team besides La Tech to beat UAB. This is my first major upset of the CUSA tourney.
- Winner: WKU
Game 7: La Tech vs ODU
- Previous Match-ups: 56-53 La Tech
- Thoughts: This is a tough one to pick. I really like both these teams, and feel that either one can make a deep run in the CUSA tourney. ODU plays really good defense, but there offense can be a bit reliant on Freeman. I’m going with Tech, because they are more of a balanced team. The Bulldogs rank in the top 4 of CUSA offensive and defensive efficiency.
- Winner: La Tech
Game 8: MTSU vs Charlotte
- Previous Match-ups: 73-72 MTSU
- Thoughts: The Blue Raiders are kind of under the radar. Many folks who follow CUSA think MTSU could be an early exit. As long as MTSU doesnt get drawn into a free throw contest they should win. MTSU is ranked 349 out of 351 in free throw %.
- Winner: MTSU
Game 9: Marshall vs FIU
- Previous Match-ups: 99-81 Marshall
- Thoughts: Marshall has faded down the stretch winning only 2 of their last 5 games. Four of those 5 where against the top teams in CUSA. Marshall is CUSA’s top offensive team. I think they should be able to easily outscore FIU. It should be a high scoring affair.
- Winner: Marshall
Game 10: WKU vs La Tech
- Previous Match-ups: 96-90 WKU
- Thoughts: WKU just beat Tech in the last regular season game. The Bulldogs had a tough time stopping WKU’s Aaron Crosby who went for 34 pts. Tech also couldnt hold onto a 4 pt lead with 38 seconds left in the game. I think on a neutral floor Tech comes out as a winner.
- Winner: La Tech
Game 11: MTSU vs Marshall
- Previous Match-ups:82-66 Marshall; 83-74 MTSU
- Thoughts: Two CUSA stars Reggie Upshaw and James Kelly will battle in this one. Marshall blew MTSU out early in CUSA play, but MTSU has played better down the stretch. Im going with MTSU and their defense to edge the Thundering Herd.
- Winner: MTSU
Game 12: La Tech vs MTSU
- Previous Match-ups:La Tech 73-63
- Thoughts: Since the begining of January Tech has been on a trend where they lose one then win 3 or 4 in a row. Well they just ended the season with a loss so now its time for a winning streak. Besides UAB I think that Tech is the most balanced team in CUSA. I think they should be able to handle MTSU and claim the CUSA tourney bid.
- Winner: La Tech
Week 16 Results
Week 15 Offensive MVP – G Eric Katenda
Week 15 Defensive MVP – F Deckie Johnson
Upcoming Game Information
North Texas vs. WKU
Time: March 9, 2016 12:00 pm CT
Location: Legacy Arena Birmingham, AL
TV: ASN; Streaming Online link
Radio: 88.1 KNTU-FM, 95.3 KHYI-FM
CUSA Power Rankings
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