1. SMU Mustangs (20-2, 9-2 AAC, AP No. 16, LW: 1)
Last week: at South Florida (W 92-58)
The win vs. USF produced a season-high 27 assists and couldn’t have come at a better time for a team that had struggled to move the ball for 40 minutes in its past few games. In the fun story of the week, walk-ons Jake Brudish, David Nelson and Courtland Sutton’s (an SMU wide receiver) eight combined points equaled Ben Moore and Jarrey Foster’s total points.
This week: 2/10 vs. Tulsa, 2/13 vs. Gonzaga
2. Connecticut Huskies (17-6, 7-3 AAC, LW: 3)
Last week: at Memphis (W 77-57), vs. East Carolina (W 85-67)
Since the gut-wrenching loss vs. Cincinnati on Jan. 28, the Huskies have won three in a row and averaged 76.3 points per game. A big reason for the better offensive output is Jalen Adam’s insertion into the starting lineup, allowing Sterling Gibbs to play off the ball, where he is more natural. Adams has averaged 10.1 points per game on 56 percent shooting with 13 assists and 11 steals in those three games. The AAC has proven to be full of surprises, but the UConn feels like the safest bet to win the conference tournament right now.
This week: 2/11 at Temple, 2/13 vs. Tulsa
3. Cincinnati Bearcats (18-7, 8-4 AAC, LW: 2)
Last week: vs. South Florida (W 88-57), at Memphis (L 63-59), at Central Florida (W 69-51)
Memphis had lost four of its last five games and played two of its worst games against SMU and UConn. The Bearcats’ loss to the Tigers was an unwatchable game and a disappointing loss that sums up Cincinnati’s conference season: flashes but an inability to score consistently or put together a lengthy winning streak.
This week: 2/13 vs. East Carolina
4. Temple Owls (14-8, 8-3 AAC, LW: 5)
Last week: vs. Tulsa (W 83-79 OT), at Central Florida (W 62-60)
The Owls have won three straight since the East Carolina loss and can take a big step in the conference race with a win over UConn Thursday. Quenton DeCosey is averaging 22 points in his last three games.
This week: 2/11 vs. Connecticut, 2/14 vs. South Florida
5. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (15-8, 7-4 AAC, LW: 6)
Last week: at Temple (L 83-79 OT), vs. Houston (W 77-63)
This week may be Tulsa’s last chance to prove it can contend. Winning both of its road games would make a big statement. The Golden Hurricane players have an average of 2.74 years of experience, tops in college basketball. It needs to rely on experience in weeks like these.
This week: 2/10 at SMU, 2/13 at Connecticut
6. Houston Cougars (16-7, 6-5 AAC, LW: 4)
Last week: at Tulsa (L 77-63)
The Cougars go back and forth every week. Start 13-2, drop four in a row, beat SMU, then get pounded on the road. Houston is improved and dangerous in each game, but not ready to contend just yet.
This week: 2/10 vs. Memphis, 2/13 vs. Central Florida
7. Memphis Tigers (14-9, 5-5 AAC, LW: 7)
Last week: vs. Connecticut (L 77-57), vs. Cincinnati (W 63-59)
Even with the Cincinnati win, losses like the 20-point home blowout vs. UConn increase the pressure on Josh Pastner. Memphis just doesn’t play smart and is looks consistently disjointed offensively despite its talent.
This week: 2/10 at Houston, 2/13 at Tulane
8. Central Florida Knights (11-11, 5-5 AAC, LW: 8)
Last week: at Tulane (W 70-62), vs. Temple (L 62-60), vs. Cincinnati (L 69-51)
The Knights are 1-5 in their last six games and have yet to beat anyone not named East Carolina, Tulane or South Florida. While they are better than last year, an inability to beat even one of Memphis, Cincinnati or Temple is disappointing.
This week: 2/13 at Houston
9. East Carolina Pirates (10-13, 2-8 AAC, LW: 9)
Last week: at Connecticut (L 85-67)
In conference games, East Carolina ranks last in the AAC in defensive efficiently (113.8 points per 100 possessions), effective field goal percentage (55.7), offensive rebound percentage allowed (37.4), two-point percentage against (55.0). Surprise: ECU allows 78.2 points per game in conference play.
This week: 2/10 vs. Tulane, 2/13 at Cincinnati, 2/16 vs. South Florida
10. South Florida Bulls (5-20, 2-10 AAC, LW: 10)
Last week: at Cincinnati (L 88-57), vs. SMU (L 92-58)
Walk-ons logged 48 minutes in the past two games, 33 of which came against SMU. It’s what happens when two players are redshirting, two players suffer season-ending injuries, one player is suspended and another player is injured during a game.
This week: 2/14 at Temple, 2/16 at East Carolina
11. Tulane Green Wave (8-16, 1-10 AAC, LW: 11)
Last week: vs. Central Florida (L 70-62)
At least Tulane still has two more games against East Carolina. KenPom does give the Green Wave a 54 percent chance of beating ECU at home, so there is hope.
This week: 2/10 at East Carolina, 2/13 vs. Memphis