Houston was the preseason favorite to win the American Athletic Conference. So it's no shock that the Cougars are atop the league standings. But what is somewhat surprising is that they're rolling and exceeding most expectations despite the fact that Caleb Mills, the AAC Preseason Player of the Year, transferred to Florida State after appearing in just four games.
Mills left — but it doesn't seem to matter.
Houston is still 12-1 overall, 7-1 in the AAC following Wednesday's 86-59 win over Tulsa that avenged the Cougars' lone loss of the season. Houston fell 65-64 at Tulsa on Dec. 29. Less than a month later, Houston beat the Golden Hurricane by 27 points.
"During the basketball season, your team is a lot like an elevator," said Houston coach Kelvin Sampson. "You're either going up or you're going down, but you're never standing still. One of the things that our teams have been known for, forever really, is we get better as the season goes on."
That's certainly true this season.
Houston started 21st at KenPom but has moved into the top 10 as the season progressed. The Cougars are now No. 16 in adjusted offensive efficiency, No. 3 in adjusted defensive efficiency and rebounding 42.1 percent of their own missed shots, which ranks first nationally. Meantime, Quentin Grimes is performing like an All-American. The former five-star recruit, who began his college career at Kansas, is averaging 17.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.5 steals in 32.8 minutes per game. He's among the reasons Houston is No. 9 in Thursday morning's updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings. The Cougars' next scheduled game is Saturday at Temple.
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Thursday's Top 25 And 1 rankings
|Gonzaga's perfect record is headlined by double-digit wins over Iowa, Kansas and Virginia. The Zags are projected to be double-digit favorites in every game between now and Selection Sunday.||--||24-0|
|Baylor's perfect record is highlighted by victories over Kansas, Texas Tech and Illinois. The Bears are the only undefeated team left that plays in a power conference.||--||20-1|
|Villanova's resume is highlighted by wins over Texas, Seton Hall and Marquette. The Wildcats will take a seven-game winning streak into Saturday's game with Providence.||--||16-5|
|Iowa's four Quadrant 1 victories are against Minnesota, Maryland, Rutgers and Northwestern. The Hawkeyes will take a five-game winning streak into Thursday's game with Indiana.||--||20-7|
|Michigan's body of work features wins over Wisconsin, Minnesota and Maryland (twice). The Wolverines' only loss came last weekend at Minnesota.||--||19-2|
|Texas' most impressive wins are road wins at Kansas and West Virginia. Both of the Longhorns' losses are considered Quadrant 1 defeats.||--||16-7|
|Kansas' resume includes victories over West Virginia, Texas Tech and Creighton. Three of the Jayhawks' four losses are to schools ahead of them in the Top 25 And 1.||--||19-8|
|Six of West Virginia's nine wins have come against top-100 KenPom teams. All four of the Mountaineers' losses are considered Quadrant 1 losses.||--||18-8|
|Houston's body of work is highlighted by victories over Texas Tech and Boise State. The Cougars will take a five-game winning streak into Saturday's game at Temple.||--||21-3|
|Alabama's eight-game winning streak includes double-digit victories over Florida, Kentucky, Arkansas and LSU. The Crimson Tide have made 52 3-pointers in their past three games.||--||21-6|
|Minnesota owns Quadrant 1 wins over Iowa, Michigan, Ohio State and Saint Louis. All four of the Golden Gophers' losses have come inside the first quadrant.||--||13-14|
|Texas Tech's resume is highlighted by a road win at Texas. Three of the Red Raiders' four losses are to teams ahead of them in the Top 25 And 1.||--||17-8|
|Wisconsin has eight wins in the first two quadrants - among them victories over Minnesota and Rutgers. The Badgers will take a two-game winning streak into Saturday's game with Ohio State.||--||16-11|
|Virginia is 5-0 in the ACC after Saturday's 85-50 victory over Clemson. The Cavaliers have won their five league games by an average of 15.4 points.||--||17-6|
|Tennessee's three-game winning streak was snapped Tuesday at Florida. The loss dropped the Vols to 2-2 in Quadrant 1 opportunities.||--||17-7|
|Saint Louis' resume features wins over NC State and LSU. The Billikens have not played since Dec. 23 because of COVID-19 issues inside the program.||1||14-6|
|Ohio State's three-game winning streak was snapped Tuesday by Purdue. All four of the Buckeyes' losses qualify as Quadrant 1 defeats.||1||18-8|
|Illinois owns four Quadrant 1 victories -- among them wins over Minnesota and Purdue. Four of the Illini's five losses qualify as Quadrant 1 defeats.||1||20-6|
|Oregon improved to 4-1 in the Pac-12 via Saturday's 79-73 victory at Utah. The Ducks' resume also includes wins over Stanford and Seton Hall.||1||18-5|
|UCLA's resume includes victories over Colorado and Arizona. The Bruins will take a six-game winning streak into Thursday's game at Cal.||1||17-8|
|Virginia Tech's resume is highlighted by wins over Villanova, Clemson and Duke. The Hokies will take a three-game winning streak into Wednesday's game with Boston College.||2||15-5|
|Creighton is 2-1 in Quadrant 1 opportunities with a win over UConn. The Bluejays are on a two-game losing streak after Wednesday's loss to Providence.||6||18-7|
|Missouri's resume is highlighted by wins over Illinois and Oregon. The Tigers will take a two-game winning streak into Saturday's game at Tennessee.||1||15-8|
|Florida State is 4-1 since losing at home by double-digits to UCF. The Seminoles will take a three-game winning streak into Saturday's game with Clemson.||2||15-5|
|Boise State has won 13 straight games since a season-opening loss to Houston. Eleven of those wins have come by double-digits.||NR||18-7|
|Purdue is 7-5 in the first two quadrants with zero additional losses. The Boilermakers will take a four-game winning streak into Friday's game with Michigan.||NR||18-8|
In: Boise State, Purdue
Out: Colorado, Clemson