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10 Best Conference USA teams entering league play

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With the nonconference portion of the schedule in the rearview mirror after Middle Tennessee State’s game Tuesday, it’s a good time to stop and evaluate where Conference USA teams stand.

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This year’s Conference USA race will have a different feel. Gone are perennial power Memphis as well as Houston, SMU and Central Florida. Playing their first season of C-USA basketball are UTSA, North Texas, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee State, Charlotte, Old Dominion, Florida Atlantic and Florida International.

With 16 teams, Conference USA is now one of the largest conferences in the nation. Teams will play all 15 conference opponents and then have a second game against one conference foe. In Rice’s case, they play Louisiana Tech twice.

All the teams qualify for the Conference USA Tournament except for Florida International, which is ineligible. The top four seeds will receive a double-bye. The tournament is hosted by UTEP this season.

Rice enters conference play 5-8; a win total that equals how many victories the Owls had the entire 2012-2013 season. The team has made strides this season and should be competitive in many C-USA games.

The following is a closer look at Rice’s opponents the rest of the regular season, and one perspective regarding what percentage chance the Owls have to pull off the victory.

The conference season kicks off with six games Thursday before a full slate of eight games this coming weekend. Rice opens against FIU at 7 p.m. Thursday at Tudor Fieldhouse.

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