AAC Men’s Basketball Tournament Preview

With the regular season finishing up on Sunday, the AAC tournament bracket has been finalized. The seedings are:

  1. Houston
  2. Cincinnati
  3. Temple
  4. UCF
  5. Memphis
  6. Wichita State
  7. Tulsa
  8. USF
  9. UConn
  10. SMU
  11. East Carolina
  12. Tulane

The first game tips off on Thursday and will go until Sunday for the championship. All games will be televised on ESPN networks, mostly ESPNU or ESPN2.

Houston

The Cougars enter their tournament campaign coming off of a huge win at Cincinnati. Their 16-point road win featured 31 points from Corey Davis Jr., who also lead the team in assists.

Houston will play the winner of USF and UConn, who they’re a combined 3-0 against already. The Cougars have 6 wins against teams likely going dancing, and that number may rise. With only 2 losses all season, Houston is looking to make their run at a possible 3 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Cincinnati

The previous 4 games for Cincinnati have not been pretty. Losing 2 in a row, Coach Cronin needs to get his team together. The offensive production has been in a funk, and scoring needs to improve for the Bearcats.

Cincinnati has a lot to play for down the stretch. They’re capable fo winning the AAC tournament and are likely a lock for March Madness. The AAC tournament will decide their seed, as they’re looking at a 5/6 right now. Cincinnati will play the winner of Tulsa or SMU, who they are 4-0 against, but have been played close.

Temple

The Owls win over UCF on Saturday may be the boost they need to head to the NCAA Tournament. Temple hung on to beat the Knights by 5, boosting them into the 3 seed.

Temple has key wins over Houston, UCF and Davidson to help their tournament case. They’re on the bubble now, and look to boost themselves in with a run in the upcoming AAC tournament. Temple will play the winner of Wichita State and ECU, two teams they are yet to lose to.

UCF

UCF sparked their season with wins over Cincinnati and Houston late. Both wins are key to their recent success, despite Saturdays loss. UCF has won 7 of their last 9, and only has two losses since the start of February.

UCF is hoping to solidify their slot in the big dance with a few wins this week. They can find themselves in the 8 or 9 range in recent Bracketology’s from experts. UCF is a near lock, but needs to win a few games to solidify their case to play in this years March Madness.

Memphis

The Tigers were in rebuild mode, but had the potential to go dancing. Memphis showed a lot of promise, but not enough to find a tournament bid. They have struggled at times, and can’t find a key win.

Coach Hardaway looks to focus his team on making a run at an AAC title, but they’ll need to get some upsets to do so. Starting off against Tulane, Memphis should handle business, but they’re quickly facing challenges against UCF from there on out.

Wichita State

The Shockers are not the same storied Cinderella program anymore, and will not go dancing for the first time since 2011. Wichita State fans are “shocked” to see such struggles after a smooth transition year in 2017-18.

The Shockers play East Carolina in the first round, a winnable matchup. Wichita State beat the Pirates by 17 just a week ago. From there, WSU would need to beat Temple, who they have not beaten yet this season. Their last hopes of keeping the dance streak alive is to shock the world and win the AAC tournament.

Tulsa

Mr. Inconsistent. Tulsa has a win over co-Big 12 champion and 15th ranked Kansas State, and a loss against Southern Illinois. The Hurricane cannot seem to beat any of those top 6 seeds, who they are 2-9 against. Tulsa also beat Temple by 18, just to go on and lose by 11 two weeks later.

Tulsa looked like a team who could do damage, then January came around and the Hurricane went 3-7. The Hurricane had sparked the early months, starting 10-3 prior to conference play. Tulsa will play SMU in an intriguing matchup. SMU won the only meeting by 20, and Tulsa will be looking to get revenge.

USF

The Bulls are 2-6 in their last 8 games, and the 2 wins were against Florida College and Tulane. USF is one win away from reaching 20, which would be the first time since 2011-12, which was also their last NCAA Tournament appearance, where they upset fifth-seeded Temple.

South Florida will play UConn on Thursday afternoon, and the winner takes on Houston next. USF had a solid season, especially after past results. The previous three seasons had just nine, seven, and seven wins. Head Coach Brian Gregory has done a great job at bringing back the Bulls to winning games.

UConn

Connecticut is not the same. Jim Calhoun had coached that program to a different level, and they’ve fallen off. They won the national title in their first season in the AAC, but haven’t been the same since that 2013 team. They have just 1 tournament appearance, and will likely not finish with a winning record this year.

The Huskies look to get to .500 with a win over South Florida, but will unlikely do more damage from there on out. UConn and USF have split in their 2 meetings this regular season, and play once more to keep their season alive.

SMU

The Mustangs put up a poor 6-12 conference record this year. SMUs best win is probably over Wright State who will potentially be dancing if they win the Horizon League. SMU cannot seem to beat quality teams, and loses a lot of close games. The Mustangs were 4-10 in games decided by 10 or less.

SMU has dropped off from their solid four-season streak of 25+ wins from 2013 to 2017, and now they can barely reach 15. The Mustangs have never won a national title, and that will continue after this season.

East Carolina

The Pirates had some quality wins over Cincinnati and Prairie View A&M, who will both possibly be tournament teams. However, ECU couldn’t buy a win outside of the two freebies over Tulane and their shocker over UC.

There are no signs pointing to the Pirates pulling the upset over Wichita State. That being said, it is March, and anything can happen. The Shockers beat the Pirates both times this season, but both teams are fighting to keep their season alive.

Tulane

Lets see here… something nice to say about Tulane… hmmmmm…

Tulane beat South Dakota State in a “neutral” sight game in New Orleans. South Dakota State went on to finish 24-8, and won the Summit regular season title. Despite their 0-18 AAC record, Tulane showed some bright spots. The Green Wave roster only has 2 seniors, which lead to them finishing 3-12 in games decided by 8 or less.

The lack of experience on the court has resulted in the worst conference record in college basketball. Tulane will play Memphis on Thursday, who they played down to the wire on the road. The second meeting, however, was not pretty, as Memphis blew them out. A win would be a miracle for Tulane, but they will put up a definitely put up a fight against the Tigers.

Predictions

(Winners in bold italics)

Round 1 (Thursday)

1 EST (ESPNU): USF vs UConn

3 EST (ESPNU): Memphis vs Tulane

8 EST (ESPNU): Tulsa vs SMU

10 EST (ESPNU): Wichita State vs ECU

Quarterfinals (Friday)

12 EST (ESPN2): Houston vs USF

2 EST (ESPN2): UCF vs Memphis

7 EST (ESPNU): Cincinnati vs SMU

9 EST (ESPNU): Temple vs Wichita State

Semifinals (Saturday)

3 EST (ESPN2): Houston vs Memphis

5 EST (ESPN2): Cincinnati vs Temple

Finals (Sunday)

3:15 EST (ESPN): Houston vs Cincinnati

In this scenario with Houston securing an auto-bid from winning the conference tournament, here are the AAC teams I have making the NCAA Tournament:

  • Houston (3 seed)
  • Cincinnati (5 seed)
  • UCF (9 seed)
  • Temple (10 seed)

All of the seeds are going to be impacted on the AAC tournament, but the seeds are solely based off my predictions. If the AAC fits four teams into March Madness, that is a successful season, and they just may do so this year.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s