Biggest Conference USA basketball questions

can western kentucky live up to expectations?

Western Kentucky is undoubtedly the most talented team in the conference. Of course, they have been over the past few seasons as well. Injuries, chemistry issues, some poor in-game coaching decisions, and a lack of depth (especially in the frontcourt) have kept this program from reaching its full potential. In fact, they haven’t won the conference or made the NCAA Tournament since joining Conference USA in 2014.

Depth remains something of a concern, though Rich Stansbury has tried to improve that with transfers Kenny Cooper (Lipscomb) and Luke Frampton (Davidson), both of whom will be eligible. They also lack size, as Bassey is the only guy in the rotation over 6-6.

But the Hilltoppers still check all the boxes you desire. Experience? Check. NBA talent? Yup. Can win in a multitude of ways? They’ve proven it. Now they just have to put it altogether on a consistent basis.

can north texas repeat?

WKU was also talented last season but, come March, it had become clear that North Texas was the better team. The Mean Green were ruthlessly efficient on offense, ranking 5th in the country in effective field goal percentage despite dealing with some turnover issues. Their defense should be solid again, but it’s going to be difficult for them to replicate that efficiency – and they’ll need to if they’re going to repeat as regular season champs.

Hamlet is a great player but is going to have an even bigger role without Umoja Gibson sharing the load as the team’s only other double-digit scorer. He needs to maintain his efficiency in that bigger role, too, all while their newcomers replace efficient role players (D.J. Draper has the 5th-highest offensive rating in the country). It’s a tall task, but head coach Grant McCasland has proven to be one of the best mid-major coaches in the country.

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