A loss doesn’t eliminate FAU, but it could complicate matters.
A victory for FAU will ensure it is seeded in the second pod when C-USA releases the schedule and opponent for each conference team’s final four games following Saturday’s contests. If FAU clinches a spot in the second pod (teams holding spots numbered six through 10 in the standings following Saturday’s games), it will be assured of being seeded no lower than 10h in the 12-team C-USA tournament.
With a victory over Rice FAU could be seeded as high as No. 7.
Should FAU lose on Saturday, it will immediately begin scoreboard watching. A loss by La. Tech at home against UTSA or a loss by FIU against North Texas also ensures that FAU will be in the second pod, thereby making the tournament. Once locked into a pod, teams can not achieve a Conference USA Tournament seed higher that the highest seed in that pod or fall lower than the lowest seed.
After seeing its teams consistently fail to receive at-large bids to the NCAA tournament in recent years, Conference USA adopted the pod system schedule as a means to help teams at the upper level of the conference play games that will raise their NET (formerly RPI) rating, increasing the chances the NCAA will find their resumes attractive.
That’s unlikely to matter much this season. Conference USA leader Old Dominion (20-6, 10-3) currently holds a NET ranking of 86, about 46 points too low for at-large consideration. A loss to FAU (15-11, 155 NET) earlier in the season, is one of the black marks on the Monarchs’ record.
Even if FAU loses to Rice and falls to the third pod, Florida Atlantic will still be favored to play its way into the Conference USA Tournament. FAU will be the top seed in pod three and will be no worse than two games ahead of current cellar dwellers UTEP and Charlotte with only four games remaining in the regular season. The Top 2 finishers from pod three round out the C-USA tournament field.
FAU enters Saturday’s game in a four-way tie for seventh in the current C-USA standings with a 6-7 record, one game better than Rice.
Florida Atlantic has yet to sweep both games during a single weekend of C-USA play. FAU defeated North Texas 57-47 on Thursday night.