1. SMU Mustangs (24-4, 12-4 AAC, AP No. 24, LW: 1)
Last week: at Memphis (W 69-62), vs. Tulane (W 74-53)
SMU has to win both games to ensure at least a share of a conference title. If it loses one, the Mustangs need to hope Temple drops one of its final two regular-season games. Considering Temple’s two games are against Memphis and Tulane, SMU shouldn’t plan on getting any help.
This week: 3/3 vs. Connecticut, 3/6 at Cincinnati
2. Temple Owls (18-10, 12-4 AAC, LW: 2)
Last week: vs. Central Florida (W 63-61)
The Owls just need to beat top RPI 150+ opponents to capture their first AAC title. They last won a league title in 2012 as members of the Atlantic 10. Temple is still fifth in the conference in RPI (61). A conference title should help its tournament chances, but anything is possible with the selection committe and AAC teams.
This week: 3/3 vs. Memphis, 3/6 at Tulane
3. Cincinnati Bearcats (21-8, 11-5 AAC, LW: 4)
Last week: at East Carolina (W 65-56)
An 8-2 stretch since a 3-3 start to league play has the Bearcats still alive for the conference title. If they win out and Temple loses at least once, they get at least share of the title. Two losses each by Temple and SMU, and Cincinnati wins outright. Cincinnati fans: “So you’re telling me there’s a chance?”
This week: 3/3 at Houston, 3/6 vs. SMU
4. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (19-10, 11-6 AAC, LW: 3)
Last week: at Memphis (L 92-82)
Despite the loss to Memphis, the second RPI 150+ loss of its season, Tulsa still has the second-best RPI in the conference. Yet the Golden Hurricane has less bid certainty than Temple, Cincinnati or Connecticut. A conference tournament win or two would help change that.
This week: 3/5 vs. South Florida
5. Connecticut Huskies (20-9, 10-6 AAC, LW: 5)
Last week: at South Florida (W 88-51), vs. Houston (L 75-68)
The Huskies look like they could win the conference tournament some days and lose in the opening round on others. They have a higher ceiling than most other AAC teams because of their perimeter weapons and a healthy Amida Brimah, but as low a floor too.
This week: 3/3 at SMU, 3/6 vs. Central Florida
6. Houston Cougars (21-8, 11-6 AAC, LW: 6)
Last week: at Central Florida (W 88-61), at Connecticut (W 75-68)
The road win vs. Connecticut is great validation for an impressive improvement this year for the Cougars. They are up to 54 in KenPom and boast the country’s 17th-most efficient offense.
This week: 3/3 vs. Cincinnati
7. Memphis Tigers (16-13, 7-9 AAC, LW: 7)
Last week: vs. SMU (L 69-62), vs. Tulsa (W 92-82)
The worst NIT at-large team in recent memory? Get to the NIT first (beating Tulsa helps), and then that debate can ensue.
This week: 3/3 at Temple, 3/6 at East Carolina
8. Central Florida Knights (11-16, 5-11 AAC, LW: 8)
Last week: vs. Houston (L 88-61), at Temple (L 63-61)
Fans of a certain school in Dallas would have been thrilled if the Knights had pulled off the upset of Temple.
This week: 3/2 vs. Tulane, 3/6 at Connecticut
9. South Florida Bulls (7-22, 4-12 AAC, LW: 9)
Last week: vs. Connecticut (L 88-51)
The Bulls, in their trying season, actually do have two top-100 RPI wins (Albany, Houston).
This week: 3/2 vs. East Carolina, 3/5 at Tulsa
10. East Carolina Pirates (11-18, 3-13 AAC, LW: 11)
Last week: at Tulane (W 79-73), vs. Cincinnati (L 65-56)
It took nearly two months of conference play, but the Pirates finally got a win over one of Tulane, South Florida or Central Florida.
This week: 3/2 at South Florida, 3/6 vs. Memphis
11. Tulane Green Wave (10-19, 3-13 AAC, LW: 10)
Last week: vs. East Carolina (L 79-73), at SMU (L 74-53)
Larry Brown complimented Tulane’s young players after SMU beat the Green Wave on Sunday. He liked sophomore forward Dylan Osetkowski’s skills and the potential of the freshmen guards (Kain Harris, Von Julien and Melvin Frazier). Tulane’s issue has been transfers each year, but Brown actually likes the team’s outlook if everyone stays on the team after the season. At this stage of the season, it’s good to still have believers.
This week: 3/2 at Central Florida, 3/6 vs. Temple