Final AAC Power Rankings

The AAC Tournament is complete and Patrick reveals his final AAC Power Rankings of the year!

1. SMU (27-6, 15-3 AAC; LW- 1)

Last week: vs. ECU (W 74-68), vs. Temple (W 69-56), vs. Connecticut (W 62-54)

I had little doubt SMU would run the table in Hartford. ECU needed a barrage of threes to stay in it, Temple is just a poor matchup for SMU, and the Mustangs weren’t about to let UConn beat them again. While I think SMU’s record, resume and play deserved a 5 seed, the Ponies are still looking at a matchup against one of the worst teams to receive an NCAA at-large bid in recent memory. Five seeds are infamously upset every year, and that’s because the best mid-major teams in the field draw 12 seeds, and those teams are always capable of an upset. 11 seeds are usually average bubble teams, which aren’t too challenging.

This week: 3/19 vs. UCLA (NCAA first round in Louisville)

2. Cincinnati (22-10, 13-5 AAC; LW- 2)

Last week: vs. Connecticut (L 57-54)

The Bearcats didn’t win a game in the conference tournament but still came away with an 8 seed and a first-round matchup with Purdue. The Boilermakers are a similar team to Cincinnati: they win with toughness and defense. I’m curious how Cincinnati will match up with Purdue 7-footer A.J. Hammons on both ends of the floor. He’s one of the nation’s elite interior defenders and a big offensive piece too.

This week: 3/19 vs. Purdue (NCAA first round in Louisville)

3. Temple (23-10, 13-5; LW- 3)

Last week: vs. Memphis (W 80-75), vs. SMU (L 69-56)

Here’s your 2015 edition of “The Selection Committee Hates the AAC.” The 34th RPI Owls were 2-8 against the Top 50 and 8-8 against the Top 100, but had what I think was the AAC’s most impressive win: A December blowout of Kansas (#2 RPI). While I think Temple deserved a bid over UCLA, Georgia and Ole Miss, I can understand if the committee knocked the Owls for not passing the eye test. A team that shoots 38% from the floor for the season won’t exactly wow anyone. They were the second team out of the tournament and earned a 1 seed in the NIT.

Next week: 3/18 vs. Bucknell (NIT first round)

4. Connecticut (20-14, 10-8; LW- 5)

Last week: vs. USF (W 69-43), vs. Cincinnati (W 57-54), vs. Tulsa (W 47-42), vs. SMU (L 62-54)

The Huskies unquestionably needed to win to make the NCAA tournament, and their usual March magic fell just short against SMU. Credit UConn for making an impressive comeback attempt, but this is still a season of missed opportunities and disappointment for the Huskies that ended with a measly NIT four seed.

This week: vs. Arizona State (NIT first round)

5. Tulsa (22-10, 14-4; LW- 4)

Last week: vs. Houston (W 59-51), vs. Connecticut (L 47-42)

The Golden Hurricane didn’t pass any eye tests against the Huskies, and its strength of schedule and quality of wins were much worse than Temple’s. Given the committee’s distaste for the AAC, Tulsa probably had to win the AAC tournament to make it. They didn’t, so they got a 2 seed in the NIT against a William and Mary team that I think could pull an upset. Tulsa had a successful first year in the AAC, but Frank Haith’s team needs to find offensive consistency if it wants to contend again next year.

This week: 3/17 vs. William and Mary (NIT first round)

6. Memphis (18-14, 10-8; LW- 6)

Last week: vs. Temple (L 80-75)

The Tigers were one-and-done in Hartford, and did not even get an NIT bid. UConn may be the conference’s most disappointing team because of expectations of defending champions, but Memphis was a train wreck for most of this season and enters the offseason with a lot of questions. I don’t think Josh Pastner gets fired, but he’ll be feeling some heat heading into next year.

This week: season over

7. Tulane (15-16, 6-12; LW- 7)

Last week: vs. Houston (L 66-60)

You know it’s been a tough year when you lose to Houston twice in eight days. What once looked like a promising season ended in a 2-11 slump. However, the talented trio of Louis Dabney, Jonathan Stark, and Jay Hook all return next year, so there’s realistic hope for improvement in 2015-16.

This week: season over

8. East Carolina (14-19, 6-12; LW- 8)

Last week: vs. UCF (W 81-80 OT), vs. SMU (L 74-68)

The Pirates really put a scare into SMU, drilling 15 threes a day after hitting nine against UCF. Jeff Lebo’s future as head coach is uncertain, but the core of the team returns next year, including Terry Whisnant, who capped a solid junior season with four made threes and 18 points against SMU.

This week: season over

9. Houston (13-19, 4-14; LW- 9)

Last week: vs. Tulane (W 66-60), vs. Tulsa (L 59-51)

Houston really came together in the final weeks, going 4-1 in March after going an entire month without a win. The hot finish gives the Cougars a lot of momentum going into the offseason, and that will help Kelvin Sampson get this thing turned around faster.

This week: season over

10. Central Florida (12-18, 5-13; LW- 10)

Last week: vs. ECU (L 81-80 OT)

The Knights ended the year on a five-game losing streak that included two losses to East Carolina and one to South Florida. However, freshmen B.J. Taylor and Adonys Henriquez are good building blocks, plus 7-foot-5 center Tacko Fall and fellow four-star big man Chad Brown highlight a good recruiting class. But right now, I’m wondering if Donnie Jones is back as coach next season.

This week: season over

11. South Florida (9-23, 3-15; LW- 11)

Last week: vs. Connecticut (L 69-43)

We knew it would be a long one. The Bulls are beginning a rebuild and have won just three games in each of their two years in the AAC. But the good news is there’s nowhere to go but up, and I think the Bulls will be marginally but noticeably better in 2015-16.

This week: season over

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