Week Three of AAC play is now in the books, so here are the updated conference Power Rankings.
It's hard to believe this is where we are putting the preseason favorite, but that's about where the results on the field have been. The Pirates are shockingly still winless in the league after an inexplicable home sweep at the hands of UCF.
In those first nine losses, six have been by 3 or more runs. The best news is that ECU got D1 Baseball Third Team All-American pitcher Evan Kruczynsky back this week. He pitched five innings with one ER in a solid first start. Doesn't do a lot when you are not scoring though.
Will ECU show any life next week at Cincinnati?
The Tigers got very, very close to pulling off a series win over Houston. They won yesterday and held the lead today, but the Cougars managed to pull it out.
That seems to be about where Memphis is as a club. They have enough that they can hang with or threaten anyone in this league at times but can't put it together yet.
The Bearcats had a good week. After salvaging the final game of their Tulane series, they put together a pretty surprising performance down at South Florida.
Cincy took the first two games on the road against the Bulls and came very close to pulling off an unexpected road sweep. USF survived today with a 4-2 win but still...
Look, don't like them at all for the hijinks with us last weekend but Cincy seems like a team that can ruin a couple more weekends this season.
The Knights needed to atone after getting swept by USF, and they did so with a sweep of their own against the free-falling ECU Pirates.
I don't think we learned a whole lot this week about UCF. Their #29 RPI continues to be excellent. They have a home bout with UConn next week. Win two of those, and they might be a higher team.
I'll drop USF this week. I feel like I understand this team less every time they play.
With an RPI of 30, USF is still firmly in the mix for the postseason but I frame my power rankings around the question of who will win the league.
Road series are extremely tough this year, so you can't afford to drop games to lower tier teams when you are playing at home. The only positive thing is that this very nearly was a sweep, but the Bulls successfully battled back in late innings today.
I would say a series sweep at Memphis will be key to getting on track before a tough closing schedule.
Got to see the Huskies up close this week. Losing your undefeated record while getting swept isn't ideal, but this UConn team sure looks like a quality club to me.
Case in point: it would be easy to fault UConn for losing a 5-2 lead to Tulane today in late innings. I think that says more about Tulane's power hitting, which came through with solo shot homers, than a fault with the Huskies' pitching. They still handed the Green Wave the most strikeouts in a single game and generally controlled the plate.
This weekend was a setback but UConn will still be poised to contend.
It's getting easier to move Tulane up. Sure, they have the baggage of losing in the early season, but the Green Wave keeps settling it on the field against the league's best competition.
This weekend was a big validation statement for the club. Yes, closing out a series sweep -- Tulane's first of the year -- against a ranked opponent is part of that. Taking sole possession of the AAC lead, especially as we head into a huge road series with Houston, is another positive.
More importantly, Tulane took down a very quality team while things weren't going perfect. JP France gave up three early runs today and showed maturity by getting in control and cruising for the rest of his 7-inning start. The team had its worst strikeout day at the plate and managed to produce offense through the clutch power hitting that has really driven this run.
Good teams find ways to win. Tulane is showing it can do that against the league's best. With a trip to Houston looming, Tulane has the opportunity to show if it's ready to take the driver's seat in the league.
Houston hangs on to their top spot after a series win against Memphis, even though the rubber match was very much in limbo today for the Coogs. That doesn't worry me that much, by itself. Road series are going to be tough for everybody this year.
That said, I think there are some legitimate questions about the performance of Houston's pitching. Seth Romero, one of their top MLB prospects, is on an indefinite suspension going back to the UCF trip. From talking to our Houston friends, they do not expect him to return, at least definitely not in time for the Tulane series next weekend.
In the final two games of this Memphis series, the Tigers managed to put 10 runs and 8 runs respectively on the Coogs' staff. The good news is that Houston boasts some serious firepower at the plate, but that definitely puts them at risk when their hitting slows down.
This upcoming Tulane series is absolutely one to watch. The Green Wave has excelled as of late by getting more consistent, stable performances from the starting staff and then producing at the plate as a team while hitting over .300 going back to the Ides of March turnaround. I think that type of club can test the limits of Houston, and we can learn a lot about the Coogs next weekend.
Where do the teams stand officially? AAC Baseball Standings have been updated here.