Temple (17-9, 11-3) got hosed last season when they ended up in the NIT despite having a worthy resume for the NCAA Tournament.
Few thought they would challenge SMU for the American Athletic Conference crown but here they are on top of the standings.
Senior guard DeCosey leads the Owls with 16 points per game and senior forward Jaylen Bond leads the team in 9.8 rebounds and eight assists per game.
SMU is ineligible for the postseason due to NCAA sanctions this season, which is a shame for senior point guard Nic Moore, who has improved from winning AAC Player of the Year last season off averaging 14.5 points and 5.1 assists per game to 16.8 points and 5.3 assists per game.
His 5-9, 170-pound frame may make Moore an unlikely NBA prospect but he is the top three-point shooter in the conference. Last year Moore led the AAC in three pointers and is shooting .423 from beyond the arch this year.
Cincinnati (20-8, 10-5) comes in with one of the best defensive teams in the AAC. The Bearcats are 10th in the nation in points allowed per game (61.8).
Cincinnati’s top offensive player is junior point guard Troy Caupain, who leds the Beatcats with 11.6 points per game on 37 percent shooting and five assists per game. Senior power forward Octavius Ellis bulked up in the offseason and it has translated to 10 points per game and 7.2 rebounds per game.
The NCAA fallout at Missouri has a lot of suspicious eyes on former Tigers and current Tulsa head coach Frank Haith but at 18-9 and 10-5 in the AAC, the Golden Hurricane is in good shape. Tulsa is led by the dynamic duo of James Woodard and Shaquille Harrison, who are both averaging 15+ points per game.
While the Connecticut Huskies (19-8, 9-5) feature four players averaging more than 11 points per game, their future fortunes live and die with sophomore small forward Daniel Hamilton.
Hamilton was the AAC Rookie of the Year last season largely on averaging 9.1 rebounds per game. This year he’s still averaging a team leading nine rebounds per game but is also averaging 11.6 points per game and also leads the Huskies with five assists per game.
Houston (19-8, 9-6) head coach Kelvin Sampson had only one full offseason to implement his brand of basketball and his first recruiting class and the Cougars have since gone from 19 losses in his first season last year to over 19 wins this season.
Among Houston’s top newcomers is junior college transfer Rob Gray Jr., who leads the Cougars with 17.2 points per game.
Austin Nichols transferring to Virginia was a major blow to Memphis (15-12, 6-8), who would need to win their final four games to match their 10-8 conference record of last year.
If there is one thing that the Tigers do well, it’s rebounding. The Tigers are eighth in the nation with 41.7 rebounds per game and are led by senior Shaq Goodwin (14.9 PPG, 8.2 RPG) and freshman Dedric Lawson (15 PPG, 9.3 RPG).
Central Florida (11-14, 5-9) head coach Donnie jones kept his job after last season despite finishing at 12-18 because of how his heralded recruiting classed produced. Anything short of winning the AAC Tournament behind the stellar play of Tennessee transfer A.J. Davis (12.4 PPG, 6.1 APG) won’t likely save him this time around.
Since being hired as South Florida’s (7-21, 4-11) head coach last season, Orlando Antigua wanted to install a Kentucky like brand of basketball. Normally something like that doesn’t happen overnight but it seems to be taking longer than previously thought.
Tulane (10-17, 3-11) lost a lot of players in the offseason and it’s showed this season. One positive for the Green Wave this year is the emergence of sophomore center Dylan Osetkowski, who is averaging 11.4 points per game and nine rebounds per game.
Sophomore guard B.J. Tyson was an AAC All-Rookie team selection last year when he led East Carolina (10-17, 2-12) with 12.5 points per game while coming off the bench. This year, he is leading the Pirates with 33.3 minutes per game and 14.6 points per game