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How AAC women’s basketball has been shaken up

The AAC has no clear-cut No. 2 team this season. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/USF ATHLETICS

If there’s one thing that’s remained constant in the AAC, it’s been the supremacy of the UConn Huskies. Since the formation of the conference seven seasons ago, the Huskies have won it every year.

Being six-time AAC champions definitely carries weight, but on top of that, the Huskies have never lost an AAC game — period.

While UConn’s supremacy in league play is almost a guarantee, this season has shown that the one-horse race isn’t clear and cut anymore.

Out of the Huskies’ league wins last season, UConn was held to 10-point victories against Cincinnati on Feb. 2 and at USF on March 4. It had never happened in the seasons prior — then it happened twice in one. 

Last season, UConn beat regular-season league opponents by an average of 32 points. 

Out of the eight league games played so far, UConn has beat its opponents by an average of 33.5 points. But the Huskies haven’t played Cincinnati, Tulane and typical second-choice favorite USF.

It was only on Feb. 18, 2017, that UConn was truly given a run for its money when the Huskies narrowly won at Tulane 63-60.

Now, Tulane sits behind only UConn, with the Green Wave having just lost their first conference game halfway through the season.

“You look at the standings. It’s really been shaken up,” USF coach Jose Fernandez said. “We lost at Temple, you know, Wichita State beats Temple, we beat Wichita State. … The conference tournament is going to be really interesting.”

The AAC Tournament has been typically easy to predict — at least in the semifinals and the championship game. Out of the past six, USF and UConn have met in the final four times. 

Last year, the Bulls were the No. 5 seed, and their run in the tournament was ended by the Huskies in the semifinals. UCF, the No. 2 seed, went on to lose to UConn in the championship game. 

The conference tournament relies on regular-season results, however. And there’s really no way of tracking how this season will play out. Teams are beating other teams they shouldn’t and vice versa.

Teams like Cincinnati, UCF and Houston are in between .500 and .600 and can almost be considered “wild card” candidates.

One-off wins are bound to happen, but the Knights held their own in a 59-52 home loss against UConn on Jan. 16 and a 60-59 loss at Tulane on Wednesday.

The league is different now. There are skilled players across the board, and it can be anyone’s night at any time, according to USF freshman Kristyna Brabencova.

“You never know what’s going to happen,” she said. “We just have to bring it every day.”

Regardless of where each opponent ranks, focusing on the next game and taking it one day at a time is the key to staying alive in the conference, according to Bulls sophomore Sydni Harvey.

“We’ve just got to focus on what’s at hand,” Harvey said.