With the bubble looking rather pedestrian at this early stage no team can afford to pass up opportunities to bolster their tournament resumes. And with the top six teams in Conference USA playing each other on Wednesday night they'll all have a chance to do just that. Two of the games (Houston/UTEP and Marshall/Tulsa) feature home teams who haven't lost at home while the third (UAB/Memphis) features a team that has yet to lose on the road. Of these teams the Cougars and Thundering Herd have the most work to do when it comes to getting into the at-large discussion, and road wins for both would be a serious help.
Houston will rely on senior guard Aubrey Coleman offensively but they've got to defend in order to have any chance of winning in El Paso. Randy Culpepper is an exciting talent at guard for Tony Barbee's squad and inside Derrick Caracter has been a success to this point in the season. As for Marshall, they'll have one of the nation's best freshmen in Hassan Whiteside and don't be surprised if there are a few NBA scouts in attendance as he faces Tulsa big man Jerome Jordan. But if the Thundering Herd struggle to match up with Ben Uzoh it's going to be a long night for them on the road.
As for Memphis, they've got to recover from a bad loss at SMU over the weekend; if they fail to rebound as they did against the Mustangs Mike Davis' team has the ability to run them out of the FedEx Forum. Elliot Williams has been the offensive leader for the Tigers but the sooner Wesley Witherspoon figures out the concept of playing with consistency the better for Josh Pastner and company. Elijah Millsap is a handful for any opponent and Memphis will also need to account for him defensively if they're to win. Most importantly we'll have a better picture of the C-USA race after Wednesday night, but the at-large hopes for the conference won't be far behind.
Also on tap Wednesday is the hoops version of the Backyard Brawl, which will also feature the collegiate debut of WVU big man Deniz Kilicli, who was suspended for the first twenty games by the NCAA because the club team he played for in Turkey included a professional. His addition gives the Mountaineers a true interior presence in the midst of multiple forwards in the 6-7 range and if he can adjust to game speed could make them a team to watch when it comes to getting to the Final Four. Texas A&M and Missouri get together in Columbia with the winner moving up the Big 12 pecking order; Donald Sloan has played extremely well for the Aggies in conference play. And Illinois and Virginia must avoid stubbing their toes in games they're favored to win.
6:30p BTN Penn St at Ohio St
7p ESPN2 DePaul at Marquette
7p ESPNU N.C. State at Virginia
7p CSS-SEC Arkansas at Georgia
8p CBS-College UAB at Memphis
8:30 BTN Illinois at Iowa
9p ESPN2 Kansas at Colorado
9p ESPNU Texas A&M at Missouri
10p CBS-College Houston at UTEP
10p MTN UNLV at Wyoming
11p ESPN2 Idaho at Utah State
7p USF at Georgetown
7p Pittsburgh at West Virginia
7p Maine at Vermont
7p William & Mary at Old Dominion
8p Marshall at Tulsa
8p Wichita St at Northern Iowa
8p Mississippi St at Vanderbilt
UAB over Memphis: Look for Millsap and company to leave Memphis with a close victory. Memphis should come out with more urgency given what happened in Dallas on Saturday but the wild card that is Witherspoon is simply too hard to peg right now. The more consistent team of late gets the win, and that's been UAB.