The Huskies have lost back-to-back games, but their most recent opponent, No. 7 Texas, needed a Jonathan Holmes three-pointer with two seconds left to come out of Storrs with a win. UConn battled back from a five-point halftime deficit and held Texas to 37 percent shooting. Kevin Ollie’s team outrebounded, out-free throw shot, and committed less turnovers than the Longhorns. They nearly won the game despite shooting 30 percent. It’s going to take more than a one-point loss to a top ten team for me to knock UConn down.
1. Connecticut (3-2, 0-0; LW- 1):
In my AAC preview, I wrote that Cincy might not have a player average 10+ points per game. Well, so far I’m right. Octavius Ellis leads with 9.7, followed by Troy Caupain with 9.4. But Cincy has shot the ball much better than I expected (57 percent in win vs. Middle Tennessee, 53 in win vs. Stony Brook), even though they shot 30 percent in a loss to an Ole Miss team without its best player. We’ll see if the Bearcats can actually shoot the ball against a good team when they play Nebraska in Lincoln. They have nine days to prep.
2. Cincinnati (6-1, 0-0; LW- 4):
This is messy. I don’t like moving teams up after a loss, but Memphis played terribly and SMU shouldn’t be bumped up two spots for a win over Monmouth. So this leaves me with Temple, who lost at crosstown rival Saint Joes but beat hapless LIU. The Owls still can’t shoot (38 percent against LIU), but I’ll give them credit for shooting better than Saint Joe’s in the loss. Home games against LaSalle and Towson are next.
3. Temple (4-3, 0-0; LW- 4):
Can you really read much from a 12-point win over Monmouth? Normally not, but Nic Moore had the game everyone was waiting for: 23 points on 9 of 15 shooting, five assists, four steals. SMU cut down the fouls and turnovers and rebounded better, which they couldn’t do against other lesser teams like Eastern Washington. The Mustangs really, really need to beat Wyoming on Friday.
4. SMU (4-3, 0-0; LW- 5):
I’m violating my move-up-after-loss rule again, but I can’t be too picky over a road loss to Wichita State in which Tulsa shot 50 percent from deep and committed only 10 turnovers, even in a 75-55 game. But the win against Creighton that followed was huge. Maybe the best win by an AAC team this year. That’s worthy of being in the top five, even with four losses.
5. Tulsa (4-4, 0-0; LW- 6):
Talk about a tumble…Memphis can’t shoot (or score, let’s face it) its way out of a paper bag. Which isn’t surprising considering most of its scoring last season is gone. Regardless, scoring 15 points in a half like the Tigers did in their 71-47 loss to Baylor is awful. Five players score in double figures in a win against Indiana State, but then Nick King and Kedren Johnson, their best scorers, combine for zero points in a 64-52 loss to Stephen F. Austin. Head-scratching. I expected Memphis to have some growing pains because their youth, but nothing like this. The key guys aren’t getting it done. Johnson was going to be the guy, but he didn’t score a point all week and didn’t play in the Baylor game. He’s been a major disappointment and is crucial to Memphis’ success. Bradley is the Tigers’ next opponent.
6. Memphis (2-3, 0-0; LW- 3):
I was really tempted to move Houston over Memphis despite not playing a game all week. The Cougars play Texas-Pan American and Abilene Christian on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.
7. Houston (2-1, 0-0; LW- 7):
The win at Loyola (IL) was nice, but Tulane did what it was supposed to do: beat up on low-major teams it has played thus far. Naturally, I have little commentary on those games. Good job, Tulane. The next opponent, 5-1 Mississippi State, has a couple solid wins. But it’s a home game for Tulane, and this would be a nice win, even if Mississippi State finishes near the bottom in SEC play.
8. Tulane (6-1, 0-0; LW- 8):
The Knights are supposed to do what Tulane did: beat up on low-major opponents. They’ve won, but not beat-up-on won. The latest example: beating Georgia Southern and Bethune-Cookman by a combined 10 points. But they’ve won, and with East Carolina really stinking, I moved them up for it. Justin McBride, a 325-pound center, has impressed. He dropped 31 on Bethune-Cookman. UCF plays Florida State on the road on Saturday.
9. Central Florida (5-1, 0-0; LW- 10):
10. South Florida (5-2, 0-0; LW- 11):
Also no impressive wins, but the 5-2 record is much better than I expected. They lost at Alabama, but some nice pieces are emerging in Corey Allen Jr. and Chris Perry. Another road game against an underrated mid-major, Detroit, is next.
The Pirates played good defense!...And it’s gone. They allowed 75 to a surprising Hawaii team but 72 to Florida Atlantic. Both games ended with a loss. ECU still scores though, averaging 75 per game. I don’t think ECU is really bad enough to deserve this bottom spot, but the Florida teams have done enough right now to deserve being out of the bottom spot. ECU heads to Chapel Hill on Sunday.
11. East Carolina (4-4, 0-0; LW- 9):