The Bearcats are currently in 3rd place in the AAC with just 7 games and a month left of basketball until they go Dancing. Who will win the regular season AAC title? Let’s take a peak at the schedules remaining for the conference contenders.
• 1st Place: Tulsa is sitting at the top at 10-1 with an RPI of 48, but they were just handed their first American loss by SMU. The same SMU team UC swept this year. On March 4th the Cats travel to Tulsa to face the Golden Hurricane. This is the only time the two teams play this year. Remaining on the schedule are games at UConn, against Temple, at Memphis, home against UC, and a season finale at SMU.
• 2nd Place: SMU is sitting in 2nd at 10-2 with an RPI of 22. Both losses were at the hands of the Bearcats. The Mustangs still play UConn, Temple, at Memphis, at UConn, and home against Tulsa.
• 3rd Place: UC and Temple are in 3rd at 8-3. The Cats have an RPI of 28 and the Owls 34. UC has games remaining at Temple, at Tulsa, and home against Memphis. The Owls still have to play UC, at SMU, at Tulsa, and home against UConn.
• 4th Place: UConn and Memphis are not far behind in 4th place at 6-4 in conference. Although both of these teams should get to play in March Madness, I think both teams have let too many games slip away to have a shot at winning the conference regular season title. The AAC tournament is a whole other story.
Hardest Path: Both Tulsa and SMU have very difficult schedules remaining and could easily lose 2 or more games each. Playing at UConn and Memphis is as tough as it gets as UC saw earlier in the year.
Easiest Path: UC appears to have the easiest road remaining. UC torched Temple the first time around. Tulsa will be a very tough test. Then the cats get Memphis at home after losing and playing horribly in round 1. The Cats certainly have a good shot of winning out, and with a little luck will catch up from their current 2 game deficit to recapture 1st place. The Cats have already played UConn and SMU twice, and only face Tulsa once all year. The schedule up to this point has prepared UC well for what remains in the final weeks of the season. UC has also avoided the injury and suspension bug this year, with the obvious exception of head coach Mick Cronin.
Who Wins? The title is Tulsa’s to lose, but I believe this newbie to the American may crumble under pressure with the Golden Hurricane’s remaining gauntlet of a schedule. We just do not know enough about Tulsa yet. I have not bought into the Golden Hurricane, and their RPI barely cracks the top 50. The race could certainly get interesting with a little help. UC has just as good of a chance as anybody, and got the job done last year.
Who do you think wins the regular season? Will we have a repeat from last year?
By Andy Smith