Marcus Sasser, Houston Cougars, Kihei Clark, Virginia Cavaliers, AAC basketball, ACC basketball

The Nerd gives his AAC basketball power rankings for week 7 of the 2022-23 college basketball season.

Matchup of the week: SMU vs. Iona

Sneaky good matchup of the week: East Carolina vs. High Point

All games listed are EST.

1) Houston Cougars

Last week’s ranking: 1 (-)

Record: 11-1

Last week: NC A&T (W) 74-46, @ #2 Virginia (W) 69-61

Next week: McNeese (Dec. 21 – 8 p.m.),

Best wins: Virginia, Saint Mary’s, Oregon

Worst losses: N/A

After missing out on an opportunity last week against Alabama for a resume win, the Cougars bounced back this week, recalibrating against the Aggies. Coach Sampson took the team back to basics. They found their shots, shared the ball, and crashed the boards.

These basics showed up in their matchup against the AP Poll No. 2 ranked Virginia Cavaliers. The ball movement, rebounding, and sharing led to Houston’s win. Houston gets McNeese before Christmas, and AAC basketball play starts.

2) Memphis Tigers

Last week’s ranking: 2 (-)

Record: 9-3

Last week: @ #4 Alabama (L) 88-91, Texas A&M (W) 83-79

Next week: Alabama State (Dec. 21 – 8 p.m.)

Best wins: Auburn, Ole Miss, Texas A&M

Worst losses: N/A

Making adjustments and losing a vital piece, Penny Hardaway and the Tigers were able to give the Crimson Tide all they could handle. In a fight until the end, the Tigers stayed on the hip of Alabama. An impressive feat, Memphis only made a single three-pointer in the game’s closing minutes. Coach Hardaway’s defense kept the team in the game against Alabama, turning them over 19 times, but also put the Crimson Tide on the free-throw line for 40 free-throw shots.

The Tigers did come back later in the week to grab a similar win against Texas A&M and bounced back offensively from beyond the arc.

3) UCF Knights

Last week’s ranking: 3 (-)

Record: 8-3

Last week: @ Ole Miss (W) 72-61, Missouri (L) 66-68

Next week: Stetson (Dec. 21 – 7 p.m.)

Best wins: Santa Clara, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss

Worst losses: UNC Asheville

UCF went on the road and grabbed a solid win against an SEC opponent in Ole Miss. The Knights shot the ball well as the freshmen continued to shine offensively.

Unfortunately, UCF would fall on a last-second three-pointer from the Missouri Tigers later in the week. This was the first game that Tyler Hendricks struggled, only putting up 11 points. Missouri just shot the ball well enough to win the game.

4) East Carolina Pirates

Last week’s ranking: 4 (-)

Record: 8-4

Last week: South Carolina (W) 64-56

Next week: High Point (Dec. 21 – 6 p.m.)

Best wins: Toledo, South Carolina, Mercer

Worst losses: Old Dominion, South Carolina State, UNC Wilmington

ECU only had one game this week. The Pirates had a very efficient day, pulling off a nice win while South Carolina struggled. East Carolina seemed to play an excellent and well-rounded game. The team could have grabbed more rebounds, which will be something to watch, but they looked solid in all aspects of the game.

5) Cincinnati Bearcats

Last week’s ranking: 5 (-)

Record: 8-4

Last week: Miami (OH) (W) 103-76, La Salle (W) 78-60

Next week: Detroit Mercy (Dec. 21 – 7 p.m.)

Best wins: Bryant, La Salle, Louisville

Worst losses: Northern Kentucky

Cincinnati was mad after losing to Xavier and took it against another in-state team, the Miami (OH) Redhawks. The Bearcats pinned the Redhawks and never let up. Coach Wes Miller had his team rolling on all cylinders with excellent ball movement, shooting the ball well and forcing turnovers.

This carried over into the Bearcats’ matchup with the La Salle Explorers. The one thing that sticks out to me is that Cincinnati was outrebounded in both games. This will be something to keep an eye on, with conference play looming very soon.

6) Tulane Green Wave

Last week’s ranking: 6 (-)

Record: 6-4

Last week: George Mason (L) 56-62

Next week: Mississippi Valley State (Dec. 21 – 8 p.m.)

Best wins: Rhode Island, Buffalo, UMBC

Worst losses: George Mason

It was a brutal loss for Tulane as the team could not hit a three-pointer against George Mason. In the American Athletic Conference, it seems to be a cold spot for a few teams as this was one of three teams to shoot less than 15% from the three-point range in a game last week. George Mason also moved the ball very well, and the Green Wave could not convert on transition buckets to pull off a win.

7) Wichita State Shockers

Last week’s ranking: 8 (-)

Record: 6-5

Last week: Mississippi Valley State (W) 71-48, Oklahoma State (L) 49-59

Next week: Texas Southern (Dec. 22 – 8 p.m.)

Best wins: Richmond, Grand Canyon, Central Arkansas

Worst losses: Alcorn State, Oklahoma State

Coach Isaac Brown had a plan for the Delta Devils as the team pressured and forced them into turnovers. While getting outrebounded, the Shockers’ ability to come up with steals and convert in transition was apparent. The surprise was Wichita State knocked down 13 threes in the game and shot over 35%.

Unfortunately, in the Shocker’s second game, the team caught the “cannot shoot the 3-pointer illness” going around AAC basketball. Shooting only 4.8% from beyond the arc, the lack of ball movement, and being outrebounded led to the Shocker’s loss to the Cowboys. A tough one as the team battled the majority of the game but could not come out with the win.

8) South Florida Bulls

Last week’s ranking: 9 (+1)

Record: 6-6

Last week: Dartmouth (W) 59-55, Hofstra (W) 77-70

Next week: NJIT (Dec. 22 – 7 p.m.)

Best wins: Saint Joe’s, Hofstra, St. Francis-BK

Worst losses: Southeast Missouri State, Austin Peay, Stetson

USF grabbed two wins this week. After beating Dartmouth, who could not shoot the ball from 3-point land, the Bulls moved the ball well and turned over the Big Green enough to pull off a win. Tyler Harris struggled in this game but still put up ten points, with only Russel Tchewa putting up more points. He facilitates and continues to be the leader of this team.

In a better game, Hofstra played the Bulls tough. USF put in the work crashing the boards, continuing to move the ball, and forcing turnovers. The Bulls’ offensive rebounding was huge as the team got second-chance opportunities and converted in the win.

9) Temple Owls

Last week’s ranking: 7 (-2)

Record: 6-7

Last week: @ Ole Miss (L) 55-63, Maryland Eastern Shore (L) 78-86

Next week: Off week

Best wins: Villanova, Rutgers, VCU

Worst losses: Wagner, Vanderbilt, Penn, Maryland Eastern Shore

Temple again dropped a challenging game against the Ole Miss Rebels. The Owls struggled with ball movement and shooting the ball. Ole Miss came in ready for battle, grabbing rebounds, going after loose balls, and coming up with some big blocks. Temple dropped another game against Maryland Eastern Shore, who moved the ball a little better, came up with more steals, shot the ball much better, and dominated the boards. With over a week to recover, Coach Aaron McKie has more work than ever to do with this team.

10) Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Last week’s ranking: 10 (-)

Record: 4-6

Last week: Mississippi Valley State (W) 66-51

Next week: @ Loyola Marymount (Dec. 21 – 10 p.m.)

Best wins: Loyola-Chicago, Central Michigan, Jackson State

Worst losses: Charlotte, Murray State

The Golden Hurricane won against a team making its rounds in the AAC, the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils. Tulsa forced them into turnovers and shot the ball well, making ten three-pointers. The big surprise for this game was that the Golden Hurricane only made it to the free-throw line for six shots and only made two of them. These numbers show that they did not assert themselves and relied heavily on the perimeter shot. Based on what I saw, I expect Tulsa to struggle in AAC basketball play.

11) SMU Mustangs

Last week’s ranking: 11 (-)

Record: 3-7

Last week: Off week

Next week: Iona (Dec. 22 – 3 p.m.)

Best wins: Texas A&M-Comm., Evansville, Lamar

Worst losses: Louisville, Louisiana, Jackson State

With a full weak off, the Mustangs are looking to gallop away with a win this week. Will this team be able to run free, or will Iona grab ahold of the reins?