The Bottom Five of The American…

Temple and Rutgers (AP)

Temple and Rutgers (AP)


We’ve now had the pleasure of watching the five schools vying for the bottom of The American — Houston, Rutgers, Temple and the Floridas, both South and Central.

Tonight, I’ve taken on the very important responsibility of deciding which is the most terrible. Let the countdown begin:

5.) RUTGERS— Fear not, the Scarlet Knights will be the worst team in the B1G next year. For now, they’ll have to live with just being pretty bad.

Key losses:  @ Houston (77-55), vs. Memphis (101-69); Bad wins: None.

The stat: Rutgers has beaten four AAC teams — Houston, Temple, Central Florida and South Florida. Its losses have been by an average of 16 points.

4.) HOUSTON — Save for that New Year’s Eve stunner, Houston, which had one NCAA berth in 17 years as a Conference USA member, has lived up to expectations.

Key losses: @ UConn (80-43), @ Louisville (91-52), @ Memphis (82-59); Bad wins: vs. UConn (75-71)

The stat: In four losses to UConn, Memphis and Louisville (twice), Houston has trailed by 23 points… halftime. The average score at the break is 50-27.

3.) CENTRAL FLORIDA — This is where the seedings get a little dicey. The numbers will tell you that UCF is 1-10 in the league and should therefore be No. 1 in the rankings. The eye test tells me otherwise.

Key losses: vs. Louisville (90-65), vs. UConn (84-61), vs. South Florida (79-78 OT), vs. Florida Atlantic (75-64); Bad wins: None.

The stat: UCF has beaten one Division I team with a winning record (Valparaiso). The others are a combined 46-100.

2.) SOUTH FLORIDA — Where do we begin?

Oh, I don’t know, maybe USF’s 45-14 halftime deficit Wednesday is a decent starting point. Sadly, it’s not enough to earn the Bulls the top seed here.

Key losses: @ UConn (83-40), vs. Louisville (86-47), @ Memphis (80-58) ; Bad wins: vs. SMU (78-71).

The stat: The Bulls are last in Division I in 3-pointers made (75) and 3-point accuracy (25.4 %).

In the past four games against ranked league opponents, USF is 68-for-205 from the field (33.2 percent) and 7-for-41 from 3-point range (17 percent).

1.) TEMPLE — ….Yet South Florida erupted for 82 points against Temple, which makes sense because almost every team hangs 80 on the Owls. They’re 318th  nationally in scoring defense.

Temple plays defense like college intramural team in a 10:30 a.m. Sunday game. Sometimes they look exhausted. Other times it seems they truly don’t care. If someone is open at the 3-point arc, the Owls don’t sprint to rotate and contest the shot. No, they’ll just have someone in the paint halfheartedly stick up his arm and hope the shooter misses.

Personally, I’m more wowed by futile defense than ugly offense. That’s why Temple holds down the No. 1 spot.

Key losses: vs. Texas Southern (90-89), @ UConn (90-66), @ Houston (88-74), vs. South Florida (82-75); Bad wins: vs. Georgia (83-81)

The stat: Temple gave up 48 points to Texas Southern’s Aaric Murray. It also yielded career highs to Memphis’ Shaq Goodwin, UConn’s DeAndre Daniels and Houston’s Jherrod Stiggers.

Here comes the fun part: An upcoming five-game stretch will be book-ended by two beatings against Louisville. Sandwiched between the Cardinals are SMU, UConn and Memphis.

Somebody will get 100, right?