It was another strong week in the American Athletic Conference with its members winning 14 games while losing just seven. The signature win was Cincinnati upsetting No. 19 Iowa State in Ames, but Temple’s win at Saint Joseph’s was also very impressive. The conference ranks seventh overall in Division I, behind the SEC and ahead of the Atlantic 10 according to KenPom. There’s a good chance they’ll have two teams ranked in the AP Top 25 when the rankings come out later today.
Here’s a look at our updated AAC Power Rankings heading into this week.
No. 11 Tulane (1-7) (LW 11)
Tulane dropped both of its games this week, losing by 15 to New Orleans and 20 to St. Johns. The Green Wave were outscored by a combined 36 points in the first halves of both games, and then outscored their opponents by one point in the second halves. Their biggest issue so far has been defense. They allowed St. Johns to shoot 64% from three point range, hitting 16-of-25 shots. The Red Storm were reeling, losers of five-straight including a 79-72 loss to Delaware State, but Tulane just couldn’t stop them on Friday night.
This week: vs. Southern, at Southern Mississippi
No. 10 Tulsa (3-3) (LW 9)
Tulsa beat crosstown rival Oral Roberts earlier in the week before losing to a better-than-you-think Arkansas-Little Rock team on Saturday. Little Rock improved to 6-2 and has a good shot at making the tournament out of the Sun Belt conference.
Jaleel Wheeler has been leading the way for Tulsa this season. He averaged 16 points, 7.5 rebounds and four assists between the two games last week. The best news for the Golden Hurricane this week was the great play by freshman forward Will Magnay. Magnay scored 13 points and added four blocks in the loss to Little Rock. Tulsa lacks young talent, and the emergence of Magnay provides hope of a future leader.
This week: vs. Illinois State, vs. Oklahoma State
No. 9 USF (4-3) (LW 10)
USF beat Kennesaw St. and Troy before losing to George Washington on a dramatic, last-second three-pointer on Saturday. Overall it was a good week for the team that saw the return of sophomore guard Jahmal McMurray and continued improvement of Tulio Da Silva. Unlike Tulane, USF has a real plan for moving forward and pieces in place that can make them a competitor in a couple of years. Between McMurray, Da Silva, Michael Bibby, and Troy Holston, this young Bulls team is actually fun to watch.
This week: Off
No. 8. UConn (3-4) (LW 6)
UConn received more bad news this week when it learned two freshman that it was counting on for big minutes suffered season-ending injuries. Alterique Gilbert and Mamadou Diarra will both redshirt their freshman seasons leaving the Huskies very short-handed.
UConn won its only game this week, but it was a 51-49 victory over a Boston University team it should’ve defeated easily. Boston had the ball with a chance to win late in the game, but UConn coach Kevin Ollie ordered his team to send the Terriers to the free throw line, preventing any chance of a last-second comeback. UConn has only eight players and will be relying heavily on freshman Christian Vital to step up and help get them through this difficult stretch of the season. This is a very talented team still, and its always good to peak late rather than early, but the Huskies have plenty of obstacles in their way right now.
This week: vs. No. 22 Syracuse, at Ohio State
No. 7 East Carolina (7-2) (LW 8)
ECU went 2-0 this week beating both Hampton and North Carolina Central. The Pirates have won three straight and four of their last five. B.J. Tyson is the floor general for ECU and he’s having a predictably great season for the Pirates. He struggled a bit against North Carolina Central, but had 17 points and five assists in the win over Hampton. His backup is Jeremy Sheppard, a lightly recruited freshman from Virginia. Sheppard has slowly improved throughout the young season, and played his best game against North Carolina Central when he scored 13 points and added eight assists and two steals.
This week: at No. 6 Virginia
No. 6 UCF (6-1) (LW 7)
UCF won both of its games this week thanks to Nick Banyard’s three pointer with 0.6 seconds left to defeat UMass on Saturday. This is my favorite non-Bearcats team to watch in the conference and it’s all because of Tacko Fall. The 7-6 center is developing into a force for the Knights. Fall scored nine points and added 16 rebounds and two blocks against UMass. Between Fall and fellow sophomore B.J. Taylor, UCF has a good mix of youth to play alongside senior leaders Matt Willliams, Nick Banyard and Tanksley Efianayi.
This week: Off
No. 5 SMU (6-3) (LW 5)
SMU won two out of three games this week. Its only loss was on the road at Boise State. The Mustangs trailed by 22 at halftime, but battled back to make the game competitive before ultimately falling to the Broncos. They’d recover to defeat Cal State Bakersfield and Delaware State. The win against Bakersfield was a hard fought 49-43 contest that saw both teams combine to shoot 31-of-101 from the floor. That’s a lot of missed shots. SMU trailed 40-36 with under six minutes to play, before using an 11-0 run to put the Roadrunners away. Sophomore Shake Milton added five points and a clutch three-pointer during the 11-0 stretch to get the Mustangs the win.
This week: vs TCU
No. 4 Houston (6-1) (LW 3)
The Cougars crushed Prairie View A&M on Saturday thanks to another strong performance from Rob Gray Jr.. The junior guard scored 23 points and added seven rebounds in the 44-point victory. It was a much needed blowout after the Cougars dropped their big showdown with LSU earlier in the week. That was the first loss of the season for Houston who still lack a signature win this year, although it is quite early still. They’ll have two opportunities this week when they face Arkansas and Rhode Island.
This week: at Arkansas, vs. No. 21 Rhode Island
No. 3 Memphis (6-2) (LW 4)
The Tigers split a pair of games this week, beating Jackston State and then losing on the road to Ole Miss. The Tigers and Rebels were tied at 68 with six minutes left to play before Ole Miss went on an 11-1 run to put Memphis away. Brothers Dedric and K.J. Lawson are leading the way for the Tigers early in the season. K.J. scored 17 points and added three rebounds and two assists in the loss to Ole Miss, and Dedric scored 17 points with 12 rebounds and five blocks in the win over Jackson State.
This week: vs. UAB
No. 2 Cincinnati (7-1) (LW 2)
The Bearcats notched the biggest win in the conference this week when they traveled to Ames, Iowa and beat No. 19 Iowa State 55-54 in overtime. It was an ugly, slugfest of a game, but the Bearcats finally pulled out a close win against a quality opponent. They followed that up with an easy, but thoroughly entertaining win over Bowling Green on Sunday night to setup a potential top 25 showdown with Butler this coming week. Gary Clark was the star against Iowa State with 11 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks while Kyle Washington dominated Bowling Green with a career-high 24 points and six rebounds on Saturday.
This week: at No. 18 Butler
No. 1 Temple (6-2) (LW 1)
Temple holds onto the top spot in the rankings thanks to its clutch win at Saint Joseph’s on Wednesday. It was the fifth-straight victory for the Owls. Obi Enechionyia scored 26 points on six three pointers and Quinton Rose added 14 points in the win at a loud and hostile Hagan Arena. That’s the third quality win of the season for Temple who saw senior guard Josh Brown return from injury. The Owls followed the Saint Joseph’s win with a victory over Penn on Saturday. It seemed as if Temple was going to easily defeat Penn, but the Quakers used an 18-7 run in the second half to cut the lead to just four points. Freshmen Shizz Alston and Quinton Rose responded with clutch baskets to stop the run and give Temple its second victory of the week.
This week: vs. George Washington, vs. DePaul
Editor’s Note: For the second-straight week Scott has put Temple ahead of UC despite overwhelming evidence that UC is the best team in this conference. His position at Down the Drive is under evaluation.