Welcome to “Second Guess” Tuesday.
These opinions will keep everyone warm.
n This is becoming a renaissance season for Conference USA men’s basketball.
If there are any dissenters in the audience, just check out the most recent Ken Pomeroy Rankings, which have been widely acclaimed as an accurate measuring stick for years.
Through games on Sunday, C-USA had an eyebrow-raising total of five schools ranked in the KenPom Top 100.
Marshall (12-5) leads the way at No. 70. Following the Thundering Herd are No. 76 North Texas (12-6), No. 79 Western Kentucky (15-4), No. 87 Louisiana Tech (17-6) and No. 92 UAB (16-4).
Just to show how remarkable that is, consider the KenPom Rankings from previous seasons.
In 2018-19, Conference USA had three schools ranked. Middle Tennessee led the way at No. 45, followed by Old Dominion at No. 64 and Western Kentucky at No. 47. In the 2017-18 season, C-USA had only two schools ranked in the Top 100. They were Middle Tennessee (No. 43) and Louisiana Tech (No. 93).
Go all the way back to the 2015-16 season and Conference USA again had three schools ranked. Old Dominion was No. 70, followed by Louisiana Tech at No. 76 and UTEP at No. 97.
See why is having five — count ‘em, five — schools in the Top 100 such a big deal?
That is quite the feather in Conference USA’s cap.
n Instead of focusing on the number of players West Virginia University’s football program has in the transfer portal, here’s something else to consider.
Take a look at Mountaineer head coach Neal Brown’s creative approach to recruiting, particularly as it relates to bringing in prospects from foreign countries.
“Well, I think it’s kind of the next frontier, so to speak, in recruiting,” said Brown. “I think everybody has gone on a trial run on this, really. We’re in year two. We signed one international player a year ago [cornerback Jairo Faverus from The Netherlands]. In traditional times, he would be a redshirt. So, I think it’s too early to speak on where he’s at.
“We actually had two very productive Canadian players this year in Akheem Mesido [freshman defensive end] and Alonzo Addae [senior safety]. And we’ll continue to really recruit Canada hard. I think if you look across college football, several Canadians, deservedly so, are getting a lot of attention and playing well.”
In the most recent class, WVU signed Edward Vesterinnen, 6-foot-4, 270-pound defensive lineman from Finland, and Victor Wikstrom, 6-5, 251-pound tight end, from Sweden.
“Victor was here in camp,” said Brown. “He has been here a couple times. He went through camp. We have a relationship with Brandon Collier, who runs PPI and does camps and coaches across Europe. He had a group that went to multiple camps. He came through here [Morgantown]. Victor is a physically mature kid, ran really well and I was really pleasantly surprised with his football intelligence. He’s a guy we’re excited about and had a live evaluation on.
“And then Edward was a guy that we thought was really close to being able to come and help us in the fall. But due to the pandemic we couldn’t get the necessary paperwork done, so he joined us in January. He’s a big, strong, physical guy that can bend, and so we felt like both of these guys were really good fits.
“How this goes, we’re really in a trial run. If the kids that we sign, if they pan out, I think you will see West Virginia be more active internationally. And I think there will be a trend across college football.”
It’s a great example of thinking outside the recruiting “box.”
n Why has 3 p.m. become a definitive time for college basketball games to tip off?
Take this weekend, for example. Marshall’s tipoff at Rice is at 3 p.m. on Friday. Saturday? Same opponent, same 3 p.m. tipoff. Why, even WVU’s game at Texas on Saturday has a 3 p.m. tipoff.
I just don’t get it.