It was an interesting week in AAC bubble land, thanks to Cincinnati’s impressive move to solidify itself as the league’s top team at Louisville’s expense, as well as SMU’s split personality.
Last week, we discussed the great American divide, with half of the league making strong cases for NCAA Tournament berths and the other half nowhere in sight. Just one week ago, the top half of the league had posted a 21-1 record against the bottom half. That mark has now run up to 25-2, with several expected wins and the somewhat baffling 78-71 loss by SMU at South Florida. That’s the sort of loss that can push a team like the Mustangs to the wrong side of the bubble, but the week wasn’t over; more on that momentarily. As noted, the bottom half hasn’t enjoyed much success; all five teams have at least twice as many conference losses as wins and at least 10 losses overall. They’re receding farther into the rear view mirror, and it appears impossible for any of them to even merit bubble discussion, much less the Dance.
The Cardinals and Bearcats highlighted the week in match-ups between top-half AAC squads, and the game last Thursday night was a delight to watch. A defensive struggle in the first half gave way to a track meet in the second half, with Louisville zooming out of a huge hole to take a late lead before letting it slip away. It left Cincinnati two games ahead of the rest of the pack, with wins over all of its closest competitors save UConn, which visits on Thursday. The conference has backloaded the schedules of its top contenders, so the next couple of weeks will offer a number of nice contender match-ups.