Cons: Getting swept by New Mexico State (who is good) and losing at home to New Orleans (who is not good).
6. Middle Tennessee (9-5): The Blue Raiders, who beat Marshall and Tennessee in the 2011 National Invitation Tournament, are a year too late in joining C-USA, but don't cry for them. Shawn Jones (13.9 ppg, 8.6 rpg) remains a load inside.
Problems: Kerry Hammonds is way off his 40-percent pace in 3-point shooting, and a loss to Maine is dreadful. The Blue Raiders did beat Akron, though.
7. East Carolina (11-4): The problem with handicapping the Pirates is their nonconference schedule, which usually borders on rancid. For every Duke and North Carolina State, this school schedules four Fayetteville States.
But I can't "diss" the Pirates too much, because (a) they made the Blue Devils and Wolfpack sweat and (b) league-leading scorer Akeem Richmond (21.1 ppg) will keep them in almost every conference game.
8. Tulsa (5-9): Nothing impresses me here, including the coaching job by Danny Manning. But for all the Golden Hurricane's losses, the only drubbing has been by Wichita State, 77-54. This is a pure habit pick.
9. North Texas (9-5): Oh, is the middle getting gooey now. So what makes a bigger impression, a 61-41 win over Texas A&M or consecutive 30-point routs by Brigham Young and Stephen F. Austin? Maybe drubbing the Aggies, because that was most recent?
10. Marshall (6-9): One thing about the record - the Thundering Herd didn't cheat itself in scheduling. It is 1-8 against teams in the RPI top 150, but nobody in the league has played as many of those teams. The hard knocks just might pay off.
But the problems you saw in November and December will continue to pester this team - shaky foul shooting, inconsistent rebounding, rashes of turnovers and tumbles into double-digit deficits. Shoot, if the Herd were playing anybody substantially better than Presbyterian on Sunday, it would have fallen down 15 by halftime.
Mark my words here: This team could go 5-3 in the first half of the league schedule, then tumble down the stretch. Check this list against the schedule and see if you agree. The Herd will be the best team in the first day of the C-USA tournament, which isn't much of a compliment.
11. Old Dominion (6-9): This is a mini-Cinderella pick, considering (a) the Monarchs' 5-25 implosion last season and (b) its current 2-8 run, mostly against former Colonial foes, College of Charleston and other lower-mid-majors. Aaron Bacote (19.3 ppg) is an emerging stud and coach Jeff Jones will resurrect this program - it's just a matter of when.
12. Tulane: Louis Dabney (18.3), Jonathan Stark (16.7) and Jay Hook are the league's fourth-, seventh- and 10th-leading scorers. But this isn't cross country, and the Green Wave has lost to Northern Kentucky, Colgate, Texas State and Southeast Missouri.
13. Rice (5-8): The Owls are 15-points less intelligent than Harvard and 14 points "dumber" than Princeton; that much we know. (On the SAT, too?) They'll upset a team here and there, as always, but they'll be on the short end more often than not.
14. Florida Atlantic: When FAU and Stetson get together, you can throw ... the losing team out the window. Yes, the Owls lost to the RPI No. 350 Hatters.
15. Texas-San Antonio: The Roadkillrunners come to C-USA after winning three games in the WAC a year ago. If they equal that, it's a good season.
Come Thursday, Marshall should end its 10-game losing streak away from Huntington when it visits UTSA. If not, it's wrist-slitting time for Herd fans.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.