We have now entered a dangerous period for the five AAC contenders, which to this point look to have secured spots in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. We’ve written a lot about how the conference has five good and five bad teams, with a vast gulf in between the two tiers. Between now and February 21, there will be only one game between those top five teams: Memphis at UConn on ESPN at Noon on Saturday. During the same period, there will be 12 games between teams in the top half of the standings and those in the bottom half. And therein lies the danger, because any loss by a top-half team to a bottom-half team would do great harm to the losing team’s resume for seeding purposes. So far, those top five teams are 26-2 against their less successful league mates, and reaching the end of this period at 38-2 would be in their individual and collective best interests.
A key reason for this odd period of haves vs. have-nots was a scheduling decision that has worked out about as well as the AAC home office could have hoped. In the 15 days from February 22 to March 8, the top five teams will play each other eight times. Those games – which include three straight Saturday CBS appearances for Louisville (at Cincinnati, at Memphis, UConn) – will determine which team wins the league and will go a long way toward determining seeding for what appear to be five tournament-bound teams. That, too, has to have exceeded conference officials’ most optimistic expectations, but here we are.
- Cincinnati: 22-3 (11-1), 5-3 vs. RPI top 50, RPI #14, KenPom #24, BracketMatrix #3 (3.45). The Bearcats finally dropped an AAC game, getting run out of a lively Moody Coliseum by SMU over the weekend. They still have the best profile among AAC teams – possessing no bad losses, and of their five top 50 wins, one on a neutral court (Pittsburgh at MSG) and two on the road (Louisville and Memphis) – as reflected by the fact that the Bracket Matrix still shows them with the highest average seed. They still have games vs. Louisville, at UConn and Memphis to go. Read the rest of this entry »