AAC basketball power rankings: Week 2

Another week of American Athletic Conference play is in the books. As the conference begins to fill out, The Daily Campus sports writer Reece Kelley Graham is back with who moved up and who moved down this week.

RELATED: AAC basketball power ratings: Week 1

1. Cincinnati (22/22)

 

Record: 13-2 overall, 3-0 AAC
Week 2 results: 1-0 (67-58 win at Houston)
Change from last week: —
KenPom rating: 16

It is safe to say that Cincinnati is playing the best basketball in the conference right now. The Bearcats’ success starts on the defensive end of the floor. Per KenPom, Cincinnati is the second most defensively efficient team in the nation, holding opponents to an effective field goal percentage of only 41.6. While the Bearcats’ offensive numbers will not be knocking anybody’s socks off, their defense allows Cincinnati to win games with just a few key scorers. The Bearcats avoided a loss to Houston in a trap game on the road and host SMU next. The game is sure to be a rock fight as both the Bearcats and Mustangs bring a similar play style to the table.

Week 3 outlook: Thursday, Jan. 12, vs. SMU, Sunday, Jan. 15, at East Carolina

2. SMU (RV/RV)

 

Record: 14-3 overall, 4-0 AAC
Week 2 results: 2-0 (79-65 win vs. Temple, 84-65 win vs. South Florida)
Change from last week: —
KenPom rating: 26

SMU may be the second best team in the AAC, but the Mustangs are heating up at the right time. Riding a 10 game winning streak into rivalry week against Cincinnati, SMU has a chance to knock off the Bearcats on the road – something the Mustangs have been unable to do since the inception of the AAC. That does not mean SMU fans should expect a win on Thursday, but if any team in the AAC can take down the Bearcats in Fifth Third Arena, it is SMU. In week 2 of conference play, the Mustangs showed how versatile of an attack they can throw at opponents. SMU is playing with a confidence, unselfishness and synergy on offense that every team aspires to achieve. If the Mustangs can avoid being shaken by a sure to be sold out Cincinnati crowd, SMU will have a chance to become the only remaining undefeated team in conference play.

RELATED: Moore scores 1000 as Mustangs take down Temple, 79-65

RELATED: Foster shines as Mustangs throttle South Florida, 84-65

Week 3 outlook: Thursday, Jan. 12, at Cincinnati (8 p.m. CT, ESPN), Sunday, Jan. 15, at Tulane (5 p.m. CT, CBSSN)

3. Houston

Record: 12-4 overall, 3-1 AAC
Week 2 results: 1-1 (64-61 win vs. Tulsa, 67-58 loss vs. Cincinnati)
Change from last week: —
KenPom rating: 41

Houston had an odd week, needing to rally for the win against Tulsa at home before failing to capitalize on having Cincinnati in its gym. While nobody can fault the Cougars for the Cincinnati loss, needing some final minute heroics to overtake Tulsa is not a great look. Houston was playing without Rob Gray Jr. against the Golden Hurricane, but Damyean Dotson was happy to make up for his absence with 18 points. This was not the ideal week for Houston, but the Cougars should be happy they were not stuck with an extra loss on top of the one most saw coming.

Week 3 outlook: Wednesday, Jan. 11, at East Carolina, Saturday, Jan. 14, at Central Florida

4. Memphis

 

Record: 12-4 overall, 2-1 AAC
Week 2 results: 2-0 (70-61 win vs. Connecticut, 80-59 win at Tulane)
Change from last week: —
KenPom rating: 69

Memphis took care of business this week, earning a respectable win over UConn at home and avoiding a bad loss at Tulane. Normally that win over the Huskies would be worth more, but not when UConn is sub .500. Junior Markel Crawford is making an argument to be considered among the best guards in the conference, scoring 19 against the Huskies and 24 against the Green Wave. Memphis is the most consistent team in the middle of the conference and head coach Tubby Smith has the Tigers moving in the right direction. Memphis might not make the tournament, but will still make for a dangerous opponent the rest of the way.

Week 3 outlook: Wednesday, Jan. 11, at Tulsa, Saturday, Jan.14, vs. South Florida

5. Temple

 

Record: 10-7 overall, 1-3 AAC
Week 2 results: 1-1 (79-65 loss at SMU, 81-62 win vs. East Carolina)
Change from last week: +1
KenPom rating: 94

Temple’s 1-3 start to conference play does not reflect the caliber of basketball the Owls play. Two of those losses came at the hands of Cincinnati and SMU, with the other loss coming on the road at Central Florida, the AAC’s breakout team of the season. Despite the rough start, Temple has the capacity to beat all three of those teams in round two, but everything will need to go right. Lots went right when Temple faced East Carolina, with five Owls scoring in double figures.

Week 3 outlook: Wednesday, Jan. 11, at Connecticut, Saturday, Jan. 14, vs. Tulsa

6. Central Florida

Record: 12-4 overall, 3-1 AAC
Week 2 results: 1-1 (48-45 win vs. East Carolina, 64-49 loss at Connecticut)
Change from last week: -1
KenPom rating: 83

After a promising start to conference play, Central Florida took a step back this week after squeaking out an ugly win over East Carolina and then dropping its first conference game to UConn. Losing to the Huskies is nothing to be ashamed of, but scoring only 49 points against a UConn team plagued with injuries should not happen. UCF wins games with defense, but the defense cannot get the job done alone when the Knights only score 97 points in two games. Central Florida is not an easy win, but the Knights’ ability to disrupt the status quo of the conference may be limited by their inability to score against capable teams. Both losses show how critical 7-6 center Tacko Fall is to Central Florida’s success – Fall was held scoreless in both of the Knights’ games in week 2.

Week 3 outlook: Saturday, Jan. 14, vs. Houston

7. Connecticut

 

Record: 6-9 overall, 1-3 AAC
Week 2 results: (70-61 loss at Memphis, 64-49 win vs. Central Florida)
Change from last week: —
KenPom rating: 100

The Huskies are slowly turning the ship around following a four game losing streak that included losses in their first three conference games. On a roster so riddled with injuries, the veterans that remain need to step up. After a sluggish start to the season, senior guard Rodney Purvis has scored in double figures in UConn’s last eight games. Senior center Amida Brimah not only scored nine points against Central Florida, but held Tacko Fall scoreless as the 7-6 center’s key defender. The Huskies’ season might be a disappointment to some, but there is a silver lining. With younger players like Vance Jackson, Christian Vital and Steven Enoch gaining so many extra minutes, the Huskies are only gaining more experience to use against the conference in due time.

Week 3 outlook: Wednesday, Jan. 11, vs. Temple, Saturday, Jan. 14, at Georgetown

8. Tulsa

 

Record: 7-7 overall, 1-1 AAC
Week 2 results: 0-1 (64-61 loss at Houston)
Change from last week: —
KenPom rating: 132

Tulsa’s performance at Houston was much better than anyone could have expected. Yes, the Cougars were playing without Rob Gray Jr., but it is not fair to speculate against the Golden Hurricane. Tulsa’s loss to Houston might actually be more revealing of the Cougars, showing what can happen when one of Houston’s big scoring threats is taken out of the equation. Pat Birt and Sterling Taplin continue to be the stars of a Golden Hurricane squad that lost nine seniors to graduation in the offseason. Tulsa might be inexperienced, but can still keep pace with the middle of the conference.

Week 3 outlook: Wednesday, Jan. 11, vs. Memphis, Saturday, Jan. 14, at Temple

9. East Carolina

 

Record: 9-8 overall, 1-3 AAC
Week 2 results: 0-2 (48-45 loss at Central Florida, 81-62 loss at Temple)
Change from last week: —
KenPom rating: 200

East Carolina’s defense shined as the Pirates came close to upsetting Central Florida on the road. Holding Tacko Fall scoreless is no easy feat. East Carolina is a top 60 team in terms of defensive efficiency, but the Pirates still struggle to score. East Carolina’s ceiling will be limited by its offensive output the rest of the way. A two loss week for the Pirates was only made worse by a cancelled flight in Philadelphia, meaning the team had to spend an extra day bussing home in bad weather.

Week 3 outlook: Wednesday, Jan. 11, vs. Houston, Sunday, Jan. 15, vs. Cincinnati

10. South Florida

Record: 6-8 overall, 0-3 AAC
Week 2 results: 0-1 (84-65 loss at SMU)
Change from last week: —
KenPom rating: 252

This season keeps getting worse for South Florida. Not only was head coach Orlando Antigua fired last week, but the Bulls were also shredded by SMU. But at least the team is not rolling over. South Florida trailed by only single digits against the Mustangs early in the second half. The Bulls played a tough zone that forced SMU to take more than 50 percent of its shots from deep. Sophomore guard Troy Holston Jr. is emerging as a future star for the program, averaging 11.5 points per game.

Week 3 outlook: Wednesday, Jan. 11, vs. Tulane, Saturday, Jan. 14, at Memphis

11. Tulane



Record: 3-12 overall, 0-3 AAC
Week 2 results: 0-1 (80-59 loss vs. Memphis)
Change from last week: —
KenPom rating: 295

Melvin Frazier, Kain Harris and Cameron Reynolds all scored in double figures against the Tigers, but it was not enough to overcome a 21 point deficit. Even with their contributions, the Green Wave shot only 34 percent. Tulane trailed Memphis by only 10 at halftime, but that fact will not do much to console a Green Wave squad that has not won a game in a month.

Week 3 outlook: Wednesday, Jan. 11, at South Florida, Sunday, Jan. 15, vs. SMU

American Athletic Conference Standings – Week 2:

aac standings week 2 power rankings.png

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