Week 8: AAC Hoops Power Rankings

Patrick breaks down the AAC and has crowned a new team at the top! Who jumped SMU? Shouldn't be hard to guess!

1. Cincinnati (11-3, 2-0 AAC; LW- 2)

Last week: vs. SMU (W 56-50), vs. ECU (W 69-48)

For those of you who were clamoring for the Bearcats to claim this spot a couple weeks ago, you win. I’ll eat some crow for not putting them at No. 1 earlier, but they cemented it win over a sloppy SMU team and a win over hapless ECU. But the Bearcats still score just 62.5 points per game, and I think scoring will be a challenge for the rest of the season, although the last two games are progress.

This Week: 1/10 at Connecticut

2. SMU (10-4, 1-1; LW- 1)

Last week: vs. USF (W 83-49), at Cincinnati (L 56-50)

This team drives me insane. The Mustangs put together their best game of the season against USF, but then reverted back to old habits against Cincinnati: unforced errors and playing soft. Markus Kennedy has struggled to find last year’s form and hasn’t been as strong around the rim. I still think this is the team to beat in the conference if it cuts the dumb mistakes and plays with some passion, which has been a lot to ask thus far.

This week: 1/8 vs. Memphis, 1/11 at UCF

3. Temple (11-4, 2-0; LW- 3)

Last week: at Connecticut (W 57-53 OT), vs. UCF (W 84-78)

The Owls are one of the most erratic offensive teams, but find a way to win games. Jaylen Bond’s 21 points and 12 powered them to the win over UCF, but he scored just seven in the win over UConn. When he scores 10 or more points, Temple is 5-0. But in the four losses, he has 16 total points. Sense a trend? He needs to touch the ball more, and foul trouble has prevented that in some games.

This week: 1/7 at Tulane, 1/10 vs. Tulsa

4. Connecticut (8-5, 1-1; LW- 4)

Last week: vs. Temple (L 57-53 OT), at Florida (W 63-59) at USF (W 58-44)

The Huskies showed a lot of fight in a comeback road win over the Gators, erasing an 11-point second-half deficit with a 22-7 run. Omar Calhoun provided a big lift off the bench with 12 points. Amida Brimah’s emergence as a low-post scorer continued with 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting against USF. He added eight boards and six blocks. UConn can earn a much-needed quality win against the Bearcats this week.

This week: 1/10 vs. Cincinnati, 1/13 at Tulsa

5. Tulane (11-3, 2-0; LW- 6)

Last week: at ECU (W 67-59), at Memphis (W 74-66)

Winning two road games to open AAC play has to feel really nice. Tulane found itself losing 24-10 late in the first half to East Carolina, but the Green Wave remembered it was playing a team that would struggle with SWAC teams. So it responded with a 25-2 run en route to the win. Tulane then put up 45 second-half points on a dysfunctional Memphis team, led by Jonathan Stark’s 10 points in the final four minutes. One thing to note about Tulane: according to KenPom, its opponents have a collective 96.6 adjusted offensive efficiency, which ranks 342nd in the nation. So Tulane’s defense isn’t a good as it looks. The strength of schedule isn’t great either, which is why I won’t move Tulane higher than here for the time being.

This week: 1/7 vs. Temple, 1/11 vs. USF

6. Tulsa (9-5, 2-0; LW- 7)

Last week: at UCF (W 56-54), vs. Houston (W 72-54)

We nearly experienced a familiar Tulsa trend: a horrid loss. Tulsa blew a 15-point halftime lead against UCF, but James Woodard broke a tie with a three-pointer with 3:29 left, then sealed the win with a jumper with 1:49 left. UCF missed a jumper at the horn. Even with the close call, a 2-0 start to conference play gives the Golden Hurricane something it has lacked since the preseason: confidence.

This week: 1/10 at Temple, 1/13 vs. Connecticut

7. Memphis (8-5, 1-1; LW- 5)

Last week: vs. Houston (W 73-54), vs. Tulane (L 74-66)

Last week I wrote about Memphis’ horrid assist-turnover ratio (13.8:16). Against Tulane, the Tigers actually managed a decent ratio by their standards (18 assist, 16 turnovers) and still lost. Want more bad news? The backcourt is still awful. And it just lost sophomore Kuran Iverson for at least the SMU game. Shaq Goodwin and Austin Nichols scored 42 of the 66 points against Tulane. The rest of the team? Eight made FGs on 33 attempts and 14 turnovers. Somehow this is still KenPom’s 86th-ranked team.

This week: 1/8 at SMU, 1/11 at Houston

8. Central Florida (8-6, 1-2; LW- 10)

Last week: vs. Tulsa (L 56-54), at Temple (L 84-78), at Houston (W 79-78 OT)

These bottom four spots are interchangeable and figure to see a lot of flip-flopping. This week, the best of the worst is UCF, which never gave up in its overtime win in Houston despite allowing a 21-0 second-half run. Guard Brandon Goodwin punctuated a late comeback with a three-pointer with four seconds left to send it to overtime as part of his 30-point, seven-rebound, five-assist night. He then sank a buzzer-beating jumper to win it in OT. For a few seconds, his heroics probably made you forget the Knights’ bad season.

This week: 1/11 vs. SMU

9. Houston (7-7, 0-3; LW- 8)

Last week: at Memphis (L 73-54), at Tulsa (L 72-54), vs. UCF (L 79-78 OT)

After a decent November, the Cougars have played like a bunch of newcomers under a new head coach. But I didn’t think they would be as bad as any other team in the AAC and an utter offensive mess. Only one guard shoots over 40 percent on the season: Eric Weary Jr. Jherrod Stiggers is Houston’s leading scorer, but he lives and dies by the three. That’ll lead to some inconsistencies.

This week: 1/11 vs. Memphis

10. South Florida (7-9, 1-2; LW- 9)

Last week: at SMU (L 83-49), vs. ECU (W 58-50), vs. Connecticut (L 58-44)

Just like Houston, the Bulls are looking like a bunch of newcomers playing under a new coach. They need a lot work defensively too (104.3 points per 100 possessions), but East Carolina will always ensure USF has no worse than the second-worse defense in the AAC. Offensively, USF isn’t great, although Corey Allen Jr. will have a case for an All-Conference selection at season’s end.

This week: 1/11 at Tulane

11. East Carolina (7-9, 0-3; LW- 11)

Last week: vs. Tulane (L 67-59), at USF (L 58-50), at Cincinnati (L 69-48)

The conference’s two worst teams, ECU and USF, will play again on Feb. 21. This is yucky news, because last Saturday’s matchup was really ugly. For the Pirates, it featured a 6:08 scoreless stretch in the second half and 35 percent shooting. Same old, same old.

This week: No games

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