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Checking in with the Rest of the American Athletic Conference

How is everyone in the AAC doing?

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas State at Wichita State Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Conference play is upon us. The Cincinnati Bearcats, along with just about every team in the country, will play against an in-conference foe this weekend. With that in mind, its time we turn our focus from inward and branch our perspective out. After all, if the Bearcats are going to lay siege to its fellow league members, it needs to get a feel for the lay of the land. Here’s where everybody’s at.

Wichita State

Record: 10-2

KenPom overall: 10

Adjusted offense: 9

Adjusted defense: 29

Best win: at Baylor

Worst loss: vs. Oklahoma

That loss to Oklahoma isn’t even all that bad and that’s why the Shockers, the newest members of the league, are ranked in the top 10 in the AP Poll. Right now, this is the team to beat in the AAC, which isn’t that surprising. Led by scoring sorcerer Landry Shamet, Wichita State is going about its business as usual.

SMU

Record: 11-3

KenPom overall: 26

Adjusted offense: 31

Adjusted defense: 23

Best win: vs. Arizona

Worst loss: vs. Northern Iowa

For the Mustangs, the defending AAC champs and a team with some puzzling losses against Northern Iowa and Western Kentucky, the conference schedule already started well. They topped UCF on Wednesday to win their fourth game in a row as Shake Milton continues to be a big-time contender for all-conference honors. But the Mustangs also have plenty of scorers around him, with six players averaging at least 10 points per game.

Houston

Record: 10-2

KenPom overall: 40

Adjusted offense: 30

Adjusted defense: 55

Best win: vs. Arkansas

Worst loss: vs. Drexel

When you beat the No. 22 team in the country (KenPom) by nearly 30 points, clearly something is going right. That’s the rarefied air that Houston finds itself in, as it trashed Arkansas 91-65 at the beginning of December. An offense-first bunch, the Cougars are getting heroic efforts from Robert Gray Jr., who leads the conference in scoring.

NCAA Basketball: Villanova at Temple Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Temple

Record: 7-4

KenPom overall: 63

Adjusted offense: 53

Adjusted defense: 98

Best win: vs. Clemson

Worst loss: at La Salle

Temple is a tough team to figure out. The Owls seemingly can’t defend very well but still have some quality wins against Auburn and Clemson, the latter of which is a top 25 team by KenPom’s reckoning. The Owls were routed 84-66 by Georgia in their last game and they are not the deepest team, with Quinton Rose and Obi Enechionyia the best players on the roster.

UCF

Record: 9-4

KenPom overall: 78

Adjusted offense: 237

Adjusted defense: 11

Best win: at Alabama

Worst loss: vs. St. John’s

UCF is a team that has feasted on terrible teams and lost to good ones. The Knights were beat by nearly 40 points against West Virginia in November and besides a win over Alabama, most of their victories could have been seen coming from 10,000 miles away. They did compete with SMU on Wednesday, so there’s reason to believe they can at least pose a challenge in the AAC. However, that difference in offense and defense is unbelievably dramatic.

UConn

Record: 7-5

KenPom overall: 114

Adjusted offense: 172

Adjusted defense: 76

Best win: vs. Oregon

Worst loss: vs. Syracuse

Wait. There must be a mistake. What is UConn doing down here? Well, the Huskies are in the midst of a down period after more than a decade of dominance. While their five losses are not particularly terrible (vs. Michigan State, vs. Arkansas, vs. Syracuse, at Arizona and at Auburn), with Syracuse the only opponent outside KenPom’s top 50 to beat them, the Huskies just aren’t what they were just two years ago. At least they still have Jalen Adams.

NCAA Basketball: Tulsa at Oklahoma State Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Tulsa

Record: 7-5

KenPom overall: 126

Adjusted offense: 105

Adjusted defense: 151

Best win: vs. Kansas State

Worst loss: vs. Lamar

I’ll be honest. Tulsa is nearly the definition of a blah team. Are they good? Not really. Are they bad? Probably not. But that’s the problem with the AAC’s bottom half. There’s a lot of forgettable teams. Let’s not let that make us forget that players like Junior Etou can ball. Etou is averaging 18.1 points per game and producing a PER of 25.1 and an effective field goal percentage of .620. Etou makes Tulsa interesting, even if he’s doing it alone.

Tulane

Record: 9-3

KenPom overall: 153

Adjusted offense: 170

Adjusted defense: 132

Best win: vs. Colorado State

Worst loss: at Georgia State

Tulane is 9-0 against teams outside KenPom’s top 150, but has lost all three games against teams inside of it. The Green Wave will have trouble against the rest of the AAC since the league has eight teams in the top 150 and that’s even though the Green Wave are the second-best squad in the conference in blocked shots.

Memphis

Record: 9-3

KenPom overall: 164

Adjusted offense: 166

Adjusted defense: 159

Best win: vs. Northern Kentucky

Worst loss: at UAB

Like UConn, its still odd to see the Tigers closer to the bottom than the top. Memphis is UC’s first conference foe and that could be a bad thing if the Tigers have just been playing possum. After all, they only have three losses and beside a road loss to UAB, those setbacks aren’t particularly bad (vs. Alabama and vs. Louisville). We’ll see just how good Jeremiah Martin and company are on Sunday.

NCAA Basketball: Florida Atlantic at South Florida Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

USF

Record: 7-6

KenPom overall: 280

Adjusted offense: 313

Adjusted defense: 202

Best win: vs. Arkansas State

Worst loss: vs. FIU

The good news for the Bulls is they’ve won three-straight games entering tonight’s contest against the Houston Cougars. The bad news is they’ve barely been able to scrape out a .500 record against one of the weakest schedules in the country.

East Carolina

Record: 6-5

KenPom overall: 302

Adjusted offense: 324

Adjusted defense: 199

Best win: vs. Campbell

Worst loss: vs. North Carolina A&T

Prospects are not great for ECU, which is just barely above .500 and not because the schedule has been brutally difficult. The Pirates, USF and UConn are the only teams in the conference to have a negative scoring margin.