1. SMU Mustangs (19-2, 8-2 AAC, AP No. 12, LW: 1)
Last week: vs. Memphis (W 80-68), at Houston (L 71-68)
The undefeated start feels like a distant memory after a 1-2 stretch. SMU made three of its final 17 field goal attempts in the final 13:36 in the loss to Houston as the Cougars used a 14-0 run to take and keep the lead. SMU’s lack of energy and effort was alarming, but the good news for the Mustangs is that the rest of the conference is still wildly inconsistent. Right now, SMU’s biggest threat in the conference title race is itself.
This week: 2/7 at South Florida
2. Cincinnati Bearcats (16-6, 6-3 AAC, LW: 4)
Last week: at Connecticut (W 58-57)
Ruling out Cincinnati is never a good idea. The Bearcats didn’t play well at Connecticut, but still found a way to win. But they haven’t been consistent for more than a couple games and aren’t immune to losing to average teams. Furthermore, they are 1-3 against KenPom top-50 teams and can’t seem to beat the best teams they play. Cincinnati has a fairly soft upcoming schedule, but to have a serious chance at a conference title, it needs SMU to lose more games like it did Monday.
This week: 2/4 vs. South Florida, 2/6 at Memphis, 2/9 at Central Florida
3. Connecticut Huskies (15-6, 5-3 AAC, LW: 2)
Last week: vs. Cincinnati (L 58-57), at Central Florida (W 67-41)
The loss to Cincinnati just about sums up the season for the Huskies. Shonn Miller fouled Gary Clark on Clark’s game-tying floater with 12 seconds left, and Clark made the game-winning free throw. With every loss like this, seeing a path for the Connecticut to make the NCAA tournament at-large is even harder.
This week: 2/4 at Memphis, 2/7 vs. East Carolina
4. Houston Cougars: (16-6, 6-4 AAC, LW: 7)
Last week: vs. Tulsa (W 81-66), at East Carolina (W 97-93 2OT), vs. SMU (W 71-68)
Many wrote off Houston after the loss to South Florida (its fourth loss in a row) and its 2-4 record vs. KenPom top 100 teams at the time. The Cougars handled Tulsa and beat SMU, the latter without the AAC’s leading scorer, Rob Gray. They may not be above the bad loss just yet, but proving they can beat better teams is a great sign. Houston is averaging 1.08 points per possession in conferences games (second to SMU) and quietly has a top-30 offense, per KenPom.
This week: 2/7 at Tulsa
5. Temple Owls (12-8, 6-3 AAC, LW: 3)
Last week: at East Carolina (L 64-61), at South Florida (W 60-63)
What a dud. Temple ended SMU’s undefeated season, then lost to East Carolina 72 hours later. Strange things happen in college basketball every year, but the poor offensive from Temple isn’t anything new. It really limits Temple’s upside and makes those good wins from earlier this year feel more surprising.
This week: 2/4 vs. Tulsa, 2/6 at Central Florida
6. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (14-7, 6-3 AAC, LW: 5)
Last week: at Houston (L 81-66), vs. Tulane (W 62-48)
The Golden Hurricane are part of the three-way tie for second place behind SMU, but is a middling team that has averaged fewer than 1.0 points per possession in three of its last six games. Tulsa has a tough five-game stretch (at Temple, vs. Houston, at SMU, at Connecticut, vs. Cincinnati) with its offense trending downward.
This week: 2/4 at Temple, 2/7 vs. Houston
7. Memphis Tigers (13-8, 4-4 AAC, LW: 6)
Last week: at SMU (L 80-68)
Don’t get fooled by a 12-point final margin at SMU. Memphis played a horrible first half and trailed by as much as 25 in the second half. Larry Brown wasn’t pleased with SMU’s second half, so Memphis can take that as a consolation prize.
This week: 2/4 vs. Connecticut, 2/6 vs. Cincinnati
8. Central Florida Knights (10-9, 4-4 AAC, LW: 8)
Last week: vs. Connecticut (L 67-41)
The Knights have dropped three in a row: vs. Tulsa, Memphis and Connecticut. Not one of them was close. For a team that has improved a lot from a season ago, it’s a little disappointing to still be losing by 26 points at home to second-tier teams, especially when East Carolina and South Florida have won a couple such games.
This week: 2/4 at Tulane, 2/6 vs. Temple, 2/9 vs. Cincinnati
9. East Carolina Pirates (10-12, 2-7 AAC, LW: 9)
Last week: vs. Temple (W 64-61), vs. Houston (L 97-93 2OT)
For everyone thinking the Pirates might be a little better than we thought after two recent wins and a near-win vs. Houston: Rutgers beat Wisconsin last season. Stupid things happen in college basketball all the time.
This week: 2/7 at Connecticut
10. South Florida Bulls (5-18, 2-8 AAC, LW: 11)
Last week: at Tulane (W 73-60), vs. Temple (L 70-63)
*siren emoji* OUT OF THE BASEMENT *siren emoji*
And they did it without Chris Perry.
This week: 2/4 at Cincinnati, 2/7 vs. SMU
11. Tulane Green Wave (8-15, 1-9 AAC, LW: 10)
Last week: vs. South Florida (L 73-60), at Tulsa (L 62-48)
The Green Wave not only lost to South Florida, but also has the worst offensive efficiency (.88 points per possession) in the conference. By comparison, the Bulls are averaging .96 points per possession. Yikes.
This week: 2/4 vs. Central Florida