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AAC Basketball Power Rankings: Week 16

Hello Cougars. Goodbye Huskies.

NCAA Basketball: Houston at Memphis Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Connecticut failed to capitalize on perhaps it’s last -- definitely best -- chance to redeem its season last week. Losses to both Houston and SMU have knocked the Huskies down fifth in the standings, with both Memphis and Tulsa only a game away. Meanwhile, Houston picked up big wins against those same Huskies and Memphis and seem firmly locked into a third place finish. Let’s see how the rest of the teams fared last week.

No. 11 USF (7-20, 1-15) (LW 11)

The beat goes on for the Bulss. They aren’t good, and they continue to prove it.

This week: vs. UCF, vs. Temple

No. 10 Tulane (5-23, 2-14) (LW 10)

See USF.

This week: at Memphis, vs. Tulsa

No. 9 East Carolina (13-16, 5-11) (LW 9)

Their hopes of a .500 or better season ended with their loss to Tulsa. They end the season with UConn and Houston — two teams that have already beaten them easily this season.

This week: vs. UConn at Houston

No. 8 Temple (15-15, 6-11) (LW 8)

Temple is one of just three teams to hold the No. 1 ranking on this list during the season. It’s been shocking to watch the Owls fall from 7-2 with two wins over Top 25 teams, to 15-15 with losses to ECU and Tulsa. They have a very solid foundation in place, and will likely be a major contender next year, but they have to be disappointed with how far they fell this year.

This week: at USF

No. 7 Tulsa (14-14, 8-8) (LW 7)

The Golden Hurricane finally corrected course, and picked up two wins last week. They beat the bottom of the conference, but the wins pushed them to 8-8 in league play and gives them an outside shot at moving into the No. 4/No. 5 game, and not having to play on day one of the AAC tournament. They’ll need some help from UConn to make that happen.

This week: at SMU, at Tulane

No. 6 Memphis (18-11, 8-8) (LW 5)

The Tigers continue their slide down the AAC rankings. They lost to both Cincinnati and Houston last week and now seem destined for the NIT. Memphis is a good young team, and has the potential to win this league next year if both Lawson’s return.

This week: vs. Tulane, at SMU

No. 5 UConn (14-14, 9-7) (LW 4)

Tough week for the Huskies. They had a real opportunity to come from near the bottom of the standings all the way up to third, but they lost to both Houston and SMU last week. They still have a chance to skip day one of the tournament by grabbing the fourth or fifth seed, so that could at least put them in better position to make a late run.

This week: at ECU, vs. Cincinnati

NCAA Basketball: Connecticut at Central Florida Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

No. 4 UCF (19-10, 10-7) (LW 6)

UCF picked up its biggest win of the season when it beat the Cincinnati Bearcats 53-49 on Sunday. The Knights have now won four straight games and seem determined to make some noise in the AAC tournament. They’ve been a tough beat for everyone in the conference, even losing to SMU by just five points. They will enter the tournament as the Cinderella team to keep your eye on.

This week: at USF

No. 3 Houston (20-8, 11-5) (LW 3)

All season long it seemed as if Houston was the fourth or maybe even fifth best team in the conference, but all season long it pulled out big games while Memphis, Temple and UConn racked up losses. The Cougars beat UConn, and then went to Memphis and beat the Tigers to improve to 11-5 in conference play. They could put a nice bow on their season this week by upsetting a Cincinnati team that hasn’t been playing it’s best lately.

This week: at Cincinnati, vs. ECU

No. 2 Cincinnati (25-4, 14-2) (LW 2)

UCF, SMU and Tulsa have proven that the way to beat this Cincinnati team is to limit the number of possessions in the game. The UCF game had just 60 possessions, SMU 54 and Tulsa 58. The fewer the possessions, the less chance Cincinnati’s shooters like Kevin Johnson, Jacob Evans and Troy Caupain have to get in a rhythm offensively. This idea runs counter to everything we’ve learned about Mick Cronin teams over the past decade, but this team is unlike any team Cronin has ever coached. The loss to UCF a probably doesn’t have any long-term practical implications, but it’s become obvious that teams are hell bent on slowing down the tempo, and running out the clock.

This week: vs. Houston, at CUConn

No. 1 SMU (25-4, 15-1) (LW 1)

Every time I watch SMU play, I wonder how they’ve lost four times this year. The Mustangs are quietly having a monster season and are a legitimate threat to play during the second weekend of the NCAA tournament, and perhaps beyond. The only team that has any hope of beating them in the AAC tournament is Cincinnati. Here’s hoping we’re all treated to round three.

This week: vs Tulsa, vs Memphis