Lead-Pipe Locks: None.
Safely in the field: Wichita State.
Some perspiration: Houston, Memphis
Double the deodorant: Cincinnati, Temple.
Wichita State Shockers (15-1, 3-0 AAC)
NET: 9 | KPI: 11 | SOR: 10 | BPI: 36 | KP: 25 | Sag: 17
Q1: 2-1 | Q2: 3-0 | Q3: 3-0 | Q4: 7-0
Wichita State has been very impressive this season while launching out to a superb record. The Shockers have earned their national ranking with incredible defensive play. They rank 20th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency rating as they are defending the paint incredibly well with Jaime Echenique anchoring the inside. The Shockers are currently in the midst of a nine-game winning streak and have emerged as the favorite in the AAC. Erik Stevenson is becoming the offensive leader of the squad that has quietly put together five Q1+2 wins with only one loss.
Houston Cougars (12-4, 2-1 AAC)
NET: 49 | KPI: 44 | SOR: 49 | BPI: 31 | KP: 30 | Sag: 26
Q1: 1-1 | Q2: 3-3 | Q3: 5-0 | Q4: 3-0
Houston suffered a disappointing road loss to Tulsa in its last game but still belongs in the field at this point in time. The Cougars entered the year as a fringe Top 25 team and frontrunner for the AAC regular-season title. While they have not necessarily lived up to that level of hype, they have performed relatively well. Houston is 4-4 in Q1+2 games (not a bad record at all) and has already proven that it can win away from home with a 2-2 record in true road games. It is also 3-0 at neutral sites. Houston leads the country in offensive rebounding rate and that has contributed to it owning the ninth-best adjusted offensive efficiency rating nationally.
Memphis Tigers (13-3, 2-1 AAC)
NET: 22 | KPI: 30 | SOR: 29 | BPI: 51 | KP: 40 | Sag: 24
Q1: 1-2 | Q2: 2-1 | Q3: 4-0 | Q4: 6-0
Memphis entered this season with high expectations after bringing in the No. 1 overall recruiting class in the country. For the most part, the Tigers have performed at a pretty high level but losing James Wiseman (NBA Draft prep) for the rest of the season is going to be tough to overcome. While I still feel as though this team is talented enough with Precious Achiuwa leading the way to reach the NCAA Tournament, I’m not sure they will snag a very favorable seed. Memphis currently ranks quite high in most metrics and is 3-3 in Q1+2 games. That’s quite solid and their lone “bad loss” (vs. Georgia) likely won’t look that bad later in the year.
Cincinnati Bearcats (10-6, 3-1 AAC)
NET: 64 | KPI: 59 | SOR: 84 | BPI: 42 | KP: 43 | Sag: 41
Q1: 0-3 | Q2: 2-1 | Q3: 6-2 | Q4: 2-0
Cincinnati has recently secured back-to-back wins over Tulsa and UCF. While neither was an impressive resume-builder, simply garnering wins will be important for this team after just going 7-5 in non-conference play. This has been an up-and-down campaign for John Brannen’s first season at the helm of the program and there are opportunities for big wins coming in the future (such as at Memphis, Wichita State, and Houston). Cincinnati has a long way to go with regard to bolstering its resume moving forward but its efficiency metrics make it a legitimate threat to compete on the bubble.
Temple Owls (9-6, 2-1 AAC)
NET: 83 | KPI: 58 | SOR: 96 | BPI: 80 | KP: 89 | Sag: 107
Q1: 1-1 | Q2: 1-4 | Q3: 3-1 | Q4: 4-0
I thought Temple was in good shape to compete for an NCAA Tournament bid early in the season after starting 9-3 with a couple of solid wins over USC and Davidson. Now, though, the Owls have dropped three straight games (two at home) and their metrics have plummeted across the board. An upcoming stretch of schedule that includes matchups with Wichita State, SMU, and Cincinnati within the next two weeks will be crucial for Temple. The team needs to secure at least two of those wins to stick in the Bubble Watch moving forward. I’m still keeping tabs on the Owls but they are stumbling.
Lots of work to do: SMU, UConn, Tulane, and Tulsa.