The AAC Preseason Poll Was Released And It Shows The Massive Problem With The Conference
So the American Athletic Conference handed out its preseason polls and awards this morning. It’s not a surprise to see UCF at the top of the standings, but it also shows the problem with the American Conference. You see, the AAC is stuck in a weird place. It’s obviously not a mid-major conference, but it’s not regarded as a power six conference. That’s sort of what happens when you look at the bottom of the conference.
But, the real reason why it’s not regarded as a power conference? The lack of success UConn, Memphis and even Temple has had within the conference. Yes, UConn won the title in 2014 and it’s not a knock on that at all, but would you say UConn has been a successful program in the AAC? Absolutely not. The Huskies should be dominating the league and always in the top-3. There’s no question about that.
This isn’t a knock on UCF even. But, the fact that the Knights are regarded as the best team in the conference isn’t great for the conference. This is a team that really couldn’t even score the ball last year. Their best player is coming off of injury as is another key part. UCF isn’t a team that should be the favorite in a conference with the likes of Cincinnati, UConn, Memphis, Houston, Wichita State and Temple. Now, that’s not to say there won’t be rebuilding years like Wichita has this year. But, what’s the excuse for UConn, Temple and Memphis? There is none. That’s why the American is forgotten about as a conference in college basketball and stuck in no-mans land. That won’t change until UConn and Memphis become contenders every year in the conference.
Cincinnati has lived up to the flag-bearer of the conference. Sure it may not have had the NCAA Tournament success that you’d hope, but the Bearcats are the one consistent so far in the conference. If Memphis, UConn and Wichita (just their second year in the conference) can consistently round out the top-4 year-in and year-out, you’re talking about a conference that will be talked about more in the power 6 conferences. This is where the AAC needs these programs to live up to the hype. Because then you have years like this where UCF has a good team and now you’re talking about 6 possible NCAA Tournament teams as Houston is starting to become consistent within the conference.
So, congrats to UCF, this is a big year for the Knights. But, this isn’t great for the American. Let’s hope that Hurley and Penny can turn this around quickly. College basketball will be better with another major conference and UConn/Memphis relevant on a national landscape.