It's only been one week into the season, but there's plenty to talk about in the college basketball world. Memphis has looked dominant and there have been some teams that have stood out so far this season. Due to how early it is into the season, we're going to spend much more time talking about the teams within the conference instead of outward at the big picture. Probably not until after the Tennessee game will we be focusing more on seeding.
#15 Houston(2-0): W 83-75 Hofstra(OT), W(79-46)
The defending AAC Champion and Final 4 participant Houston Cougars were the preseason favorite to win the American and by far Memphis' biggest challenge to winning the conference this season. However, it was a very rough start for the Cougs as it took a rally late in the 2nd half to send their season opener to overtime where they avoided an upset against Hofstra. Hofstra isn't as bad as a team as some people in the media would think, especially with star guard Zach Cooks. However, this isn't a team Houston should've struggled with especially a squad with aspirations of another deep tournament run. Marcus Sasser still looks like the best player in the AAC, he scored 25+ in both games this week. However the offense outside of him is suspect, they'll be looking for a guy like Kyler Edward to become more consistent this season. Right now Houston is a really tough team to gauge as they're trying to rotate new guys into the lineup but this is a squad to keep a close eye on for Tigers fan
Next Week Outlook: Houston only has one game next week, but it's a big one as they welcome in Tony Bennet and the 2019 National Champion Cavaliers. UVA lost a clunker to Navy and boasts an offense that is an eyesore to watch. Tiger fans likely won't be watching this game on Tuesday but pay attention to how Houston attacks UVA defense. It'll be a preview of what they do against elite defensive squads and could give insights into how they'll match up with us later in the season. I'm not too concerned about the final outcome, but if UVA scores 75+ then there are issues in H-Town.
UCF(2-0): W 69-59 Robert Morris, W 95-89 @ Miami(FL)
UCF is a team that might have flown under the radar to some Memphis fans this year, but it's an experienced squad with a lot of guys who can contribute. Walker, Green Jr., and Perry look to be steadily improving and those 3 guys could give fits to a Tiger team that is known to be a bit over-aggressive at the time. UCF had two guys foul out of the Miami game yet still were able to convincingly win, with the lead ballooning up to 18 at one point. While the Robert Morris game wasn't pretty, what the Knights showed against the Canes is more likely the product we'll see this season. Do not sleep on this Knights squad as they very well could be a tournament team and be fighting with us atop the AAC standings when we get them at home in February.
Next Week Outlook: UCF has two tuneup games this week, not a lot to report on that front. However, after those easy wins, they get Oklahoma at home and go on the road to play Auburn, which should be a much better measuring stick to how they'll fare against Memphis. I'll talk more about the Knights in 2-3 weeks.
SMU (1-1): W 86-62 McNeese St., L 63-86 @ #12 Oregon
SMU did not look competitive at all in Eugene, as the Ducks top guys just overwhelmed the Mustang's defense early into the game. SMU really struggled with the size of Oregon and that is a good sign for Memphis fans who were worried about dropping a game to SMU this season. It's important to note that Oregon made their first 7 shots and started the game scorching hot, which isn't reasonable to expect the Tigers to do. However, Oregon dominated this game from the opening tip and it seems SMU might not be as scary of a game as it looked in the preseason.
Next Week Outlook: SMU plays 3 games this week, but only the last one is relevant to Tigers fans. The Mustangs play in the Jacksonville Invitational against a Missouri team that should be among the lower half of the SEC this season, a game that will be more telling about whether SMU is a really Tournament threat or an NIT squad.
Wichita State(2-0): W 60-57 Jacksonville St., W 64-58 South Alabama
Jacksonville St. is going to be one of the favorites in the A-Sun so I'm not as concerned about that game as other people are. But the noise coming out of Wichita State's fanbase is that there is some work to be done. Especially on offense where Wichita State is still shooting under 40%, which really hindered their play last season. Tyson Etienne has been rough to start the season, tho rumors are he's been sick. They have been extremely poor from three this season, and there should be no worry that the Tigers would shut down Wichita's offense in its current form. However, there is a reason for concern about beating the Shockers defense, who forced double-digit turnovers in both games.
Next Week Outlook: Wichita State is the team I'd watch if you want a preview at the conference slate, as they play 3 games this week. Tarleton State should be a pushover in just their 2nd season of D1 basketball, but the Roman Main Event in Las Vegas is going to be a good test for the Shockers. They'll play an overhauled Arizona squad in a bit of a rebuilding mode before either taking on top 5 Michigan or UNLV. Look to see what Wichita State does offensively in those games and if they can get any rhythm going. The turnover margin should be another emphasis, let's see if Wichita can generate defensive pressure against good opponents.
Cincinnati (2-0): W 63-45 Evansville, W 73-68 Georgia
Bearcat fans really wish that the UGA win was in football, but they'll take the basketball one. Wes Miller started his run in Cincy with an impressive win over the Bulldogs where the Cincinnati was in control for much of the contest. Cincy didn't get anything done from three and I do think we could limit their offense, but this is a well-coached team. I don't suspect that we'll lose any games to the Bearcats this season, but this is a program that was in the AAC title game last year. Keep an eye out for the Bearcats
Next Week Outlook: They'll blow out Alabama A&M and Presbyterian this week, so nothing on the docket worth reporting. However, they do get Illinois Nov 22nd as part of the HOF Classic. Let's see how they perform against a national title contender and dominant big, then we'll talk more about Cincinnati.
It's too early to start talking about teams outside the conference, but Gonzaga looked scary against Texas at home. Chet Holgrem is no joke and Drew Timme is going to be an All-American. The title likely goes through Spokane and that's the level of play Memphis will need to match if they want to win it all. Villanova and UCLA both looked great, especially Villanova given they took UCLA to OT while using 6 players. As for Memphis specifically, the Tigers moved up to #11 and a strong showing against SLU and WKU could get them into the top 10. We'll have to wait till after our games this week to make any statements on where this season is heading.