1. SMU (16-0, 5-0 AAC, AP No. 10, LW: 1)
Last week: vs. Cincinnati (W 59-57), vs. Central Florida (W 88-73), at East Carolina (W 79-55)
A comeback from a seven-point deficit with 3:40 to go with six scholarship players and a 14-point win vs. UCF put SMU in the top 10 for the first time since 1985. The Mustangs followed that up with a sloppy, but even dominant win over East Carolina last night. After a South Carolina loss, the Mustangs are the lone undefeated team in the nation.
This week: 1/17 at Tulane, 1/19 vs. Houston
2. Connecticut (11-4, 2-1 AAC, AP No. 23, LW: 3)
Last week: vs. Memphis (W 81-78)
Sterling Gibbs needed a big game, and the Huskies needed Gibbs to have a big game. He scored 26 points and made five three-pointers in the win vs. Memphis. He had shot 28 percent from the floor in his last four games.
This week: 1/14 at Tulsa, 1/17 at Houston, 1/19 vs. Tulane
3. Cincinnati (13-5, 3-2 AAC, LW: 2)
Last week: at SMU (L 59-57), at South Florida (W 54-51), vs. Houston (W 70-59)
The Bearcats didn’t start the week off too great. They blew a seven-point lead in the final four minutes and scored one point in the final 10 minutes against a three-win team. Cincinnati beating a Houston squad that is trying to prove it can contend is a nice ending.
This week: 1/16 at Temple
4. Houston: (13-3, 3-1 AAC, LW: 5)
Last week: at Cincinnati (L 70-59)
The Cougars didn’t pass their first big test against Cincinnati, but they have two more tests coming in the next week. Win both of these next two games, and Houston-to-NCAA-tournament chatter should start to heat up. Because of a really bad nonconference schedule, Houston needs to win most of these games vs. quality opponents. After the Cincy loss, each big game becomes more crucial.
This week: 1/17 vs. Connecticut, 1/19 at SMU
5. Memphis: (11-5, 2-1 AAC, LW: 4)
Last week: at Connecticut (L 81-78), vs. Temple (W 67-65)
The Tigers are a strange team. The rare games in which they shoot well from deep (8-for-19 against UConn) seem to get wasted by poor defense and bad shooting inside the arc (14-of-40 from two against UConn). They shot 36 percent against Temple, but won thanks to Dedric Lawson and Shaq Goodwin each netting a double-double and Ricky Tarrant’s game-winning free throws.
This week: 1/16 vs. South Florida
6. Temple (8-7, 3-2 AAC, LW: 7)
Last week: vs. East Carolina (W 78-60), at Memphis (L 67-65)
Temple continues to improve, but foolishly let one slip away in Memphis. The Owls had a six-point halftime lead, but Memphis rallied back to tie the game twice and broke a 65-65 tie after a ill-advised foul on Temple put Ricky Tarrant at the foul line with two seconds left. The good news from this game is that Jaylen Bond is producing more consistently after an uneven start, averaging 11.3 points and 12 rebounds per game in his last three games. Josh Brown is finally getting comfortable at point guard, averaging 11.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 6.7 assists in that same three-game span.
This week: 1/16 vs. Cincinnati
7. Tulsa (10-6, 2-2 AAC, LW: 6)
Last week: at Tulane (W 81-67)
Pat Birt finally had the big game most were waiting for – 27 points and 7-for-10 from three – in the win at Tulane. He needs more of those for Tulsa to start winning. The rest of Tulsa’s offense doesn’t provide enough scoring, so defenses focus on James Woodard and Shaquille Harrison. Birt needs to keep taking pressure and attention off those two.
This week: 1/14 vs. Connecticut, 1/19 at East Carolina
8. Central Florida: (8-6, 2-1 AAC, LW: 8)
Last week: at SMU (L 88-73)
Give them credit for putting up 73 points on SMU, the second-most allowed by SMU all year. But the continued defensive issues and inability to force turnovers (UCF gets a turnover on 14.3 percent of possessions) caps the chances of improving on last year’s record, even though the Knights have improved and got better as a team.
This week: 1/16 vs. East Carolina
9. East Carolina (8-9, 0-4 AAC, LW: 9)
Last week: at Temple (L 78-60), vs. SMU (L 79-55)
They’ve had a tough schedule to open up conference play, but it’s time to start thinking about the Pirates as the second-worst team in the conference if these blowouts continue.
This week: 1/16 at Central Florida, 1/19 vs. Tulsa
10. Tulane (8-10, 1-4 AAC, LW: 10)
Last week: vs. Tulsa (L 81-67), at South Florida (W 81-70)
Tulane is no longer a 200-or-worse KenPom team (for now) after the South Florida win. The Green Wave has been a little better offensively as its young roster gets more experience. Sophomore Dylan Osetkowski is averaging 18.5 points and 14 rebounds in his last two games, and touted freshman Melvin Frazier scored a season-high 15 against USF.
This week: 1/17 vs. SMU, 1/19 at Connecticut
11. South Florida (3-15, 0-5 AAC, LW: 11)
Last week: vs. Cincinnati (L 54-51), vs. Tulane (L 81-70)
Now that the Bulls lost Battle for the Basement, Part I, KenPom does not project them to win another game this year. Not even Battle for the Basement, Part II on Jan. 27. KenPom’s highest win probability for USF is 39 percent, for homes games vs. UCF (Jan. 20) and ECU (March 2).
This week: 1/16 vs. Memphis