Saturday, March 15, 2014

American Athletic Conference Update

I really like this conference, and I'm very sorry that Louisville is leaving its natural rivalries with Cincinnati and Memphis to link up with the ACC.  Anyway, here are the final standings from this year's AAC:

2.  Louisville:  15-3
25.  Cincinnati:  15-3
23.  Connecticut:  12-6
32.  SMU:  12-6
46.  Memphis:  12-6
130.  Houston:  8-10
169.  Rutgers:  5-13
161.  Temple:  4-14
168.  Cent. Florida:  4-14
196.  S. Florida:  3-15

Louisville has only lost five games all year:  twice to Memphis, and once each to Cincinnati, UK, and UNC.  I have no doubt that each of those losses was painful for Cardinal fans, but Rick Pitino now has the Cards on one of his patented late-season rolls.  On March 1, Louisville was up 65-57 at Memphis with only 4:46 to go -- only to collapse and lose 72-66.  Here's what the Cards have done since:

3/5:  Louisville 84, SMU 71 (at SMU)
3/8:  Louisville 81, UConn 48 (at U of L)
3/13:  Louisville 92, Rutgers 31 (AAC Tournament) (Memphis)
3/14:  Louisville 94, Houston 65 (AAC Tournament) (Memphis)

Those of us who have watched Rick Pitino for the past few decades have seen this pattern before, and it rarely stops short of the Final Four.

It's become commonplace to say that this year's tournament is wide open, but to me there are four teams -- Louisville, Florida, Arizona, and Wichita State -- that have separated themselves from the pack.

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