This past week, Conference USA seemed to take a collective breather before its conference season began. There simply weren't many consequential or colorful games to be found in this league. The final week of December was a time for the upper-tier teams to play some cupcake games, thereby resting their starters and giving their reserves more time on the court. Legs need to be fresh for the start of the conference wars, so that's why you saw a dearth of main-event matchups.
Memphis played Robert Morris and Charlotte, cruising to a pair of relatively comfortable wins. Tulsa held back TCU, one of the worst clubs in the Mountain West Conference. Alabama Birmingham played Alabama A&M this past weekend to ease its way into Conference USA's season. Tulane was busy polishing off Texas-Pan American. East Carolina played a lower-division school, seeking a breather more than a challenge in the final days before the C-USA schedule imposes a much stiffer set of challenges. Southern Mississippi played a road game, but it was against McNeese State, a team without the same resources the Golden Eagles can claim for their own. Houston played Texas State, another downmarket opponent in a week that was brimming with them.
One of the better wins of the past week for C-USA was Central Florida's win over Rhode Island. It's true that Rhode Island is definitely not as strong as it has been in previous seasons, but UCF should nevertheless be encouraged by a victory against a program with a somewhat credible basketball reputation. Rhode Island isn't a regular NCAA Tournament participant, but it has been a consistent NIT-level program. UCF did much better than its conference brethren in terms of scheduling this past week.
Marshall and UTEP had the worst weeks of any C-USA clubs. The Thundering Herd lost to Belmont and Akron to tumble down the ladder in the world of college hoops. UTEP lost to Colorado State in yet another setback for a team that is failing to play up to its potential.