Roundtable: What men’s basketball will do in the C-USA tournament

Roundtable: What men’s basketball will do in the C-USA tournament

March 10
23:59 2015

Editor’s Note: The North Texas Daily sports staff analyzed how the men’s basketball team will fare in the Conference USA tournament. Look for more roundtables such as this one on various sports throughout the semester.

Alex Lessard / Staff Writer

The Mean Green men’s basketball team will look to get hot at the right time despite its performance as of late. North Texas (14-16, 8-10) heads into the Conference USA tournament as the No. 8 seed after ending its season on a three game losing streak.

Its first matchup will be 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday against Rice University (11-19, 8-10), a team that the Mean Green have fared well against this season. Head coach Tony Benford’s defense forced a combined 37 turnovers in two wins over Rice in January. As long as the Mean Green play as a team on defense and don’t allow Rice to hit 12 three-pointers in a half again, I think the Owls will be sent home early.

The winner of Wednesday’s matchup will have a tough task ahead of them, as No. 1 seeded Louisiana Tech University (24-7, 15-3) awaits the winner in the second round. The Bulldogs are led by senior guard Kenneth “Speedy” Smith, who averages 7.5 assists per game, the third highest total in the country. In addition to Smith, Louisiana Tech has three players averaging over 12 points a game. The Mean Green managed to narrowly defeat the Bulldogs at the Super Pit in January after hitting 15 of its first 18 shots and getting out to a 21-point lead at halftime. In order to do that again, North Texas will have to get career-best games from multiple players.

If the Bulldogs come out focused, I do not foresee the Mean Green getting past them again. But if Benford’s squad manages to move beyond the second round, they may be able to beat anybody.

Reece Waddell / Staff Writer

The Mean Green men’s basketball team had a chance to improve its seeding in the final two games of the season. Unfortunately, it was blown out by the University of Texas-El Paso last Thursday and with a chance to lock up the sixth seed in the C-USA tournament Saturday afternoon, North Texas lost by one point against the University of Texas-San Antonio.

These losses resulted in the Mean Green getting the No. 8 seed in the tournament and drawing Rice in the quarterfinals of the tournament on Wednesday evening. The last time Rice and North Texas met, the Owls shot an unworldly 55.6 percent from three-point range and the Mean Green gave up its most three-point field goals since 2008 with 15.

Rice actually came out of halftime and instead of shooting layups, shot threes. Rice’s perimeter shooting forced North Texas, who rarely deviate from their patented 2-3 zone, into a man. The switch paid off, as the Mean Green overcame the Owl’s three-point shooting to earn the win. It will have to do the same thing Wednesday if it wants to advance.

Even if North Texas beats Rice, it will be forced to play the No. 1 seed LA Tech. The one time the Mean Green played the Bulldogs this season, it won at home in a surprising upset. However, LA Tech presents multiple matchup problems for North Texas. They are much longer, have depth on their bench and can score consistently from the outside. I predict the Mean Green will win a close game against Rice but fall in the next contest against LA Tech.

Saad Yousuf  / Staff Writer

I hate to be the source of bad news, but I really think the Mean Green will be one and done. The sad thing about it is that it isn’t even because the team isn’t good enough, but it’s more because the team isn’t consistent enough.

The Mean Green has shown this year that it is capable of hanging with the big dogs, but what I see mostly is big stretches in a game where they disappear and it seems like most of those stretches come at the end of halves.

In the last game against UTSA, it had a chance to capture a more favorable seeding but failed to do so because of a lack of clutch play. It is going to take a lot to beat Rice for a third time this season, and it’s going to take excellent coaching and flawless play from the leaders of this team, such as senior guard Jordan Williams, to make a deep run. But I just don’t see it happening. Maybe next year.

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