American Athletic Conference Tournament Preview
The top of this league has been very good, one of the best seasons that the league has had since inception. Houston is officially back on the map, UCF is not just a football school and even teams like South Florida and Tulsa played well this year. Assuming UConn, Wichita State, and Memphis can get back to being strong programs the American could be a very tough league for years to come.
2018 Champion: Cincinnati
1-seed Houston Cougars 29-2 (16-2)
The job done by Kelvin Sampson at Houston cannot be overstated. He took a program with rich history and a weak recent run and turned them back into a contender not just in the conference but the country. Houston is an elite defensive team and has some very good guards that lead them.
2-seed Cincinnati Bearcats 25-6 (14-4)
Another year of great basketball from a Mick Cronin team, who’d have expected that? Cronin continues to coach strong defensive teams and this unit doesn’t seem as offensively challenged as some of his in the past. Jarron Cumberland is a star, but getting consistent scoring from the supporting cast is the key.
3-seed Temple Owls 23-8 (13-5)
Shizz Alston is all I need to say. He’s a gamer and a pure scorer. He can do it from anywhere on the floor and can do it effectively. Alston is why Temple can win the American tournament.
4-seed UCF Knights 23-7 (13-5)
This is another strong defensive team, the league is filled with them. They have the most unique player in College Basketball with 7-foot-6 Tacko Fall and one of the most under-the-radar stars in Aubrey Dawkins. This is another team that struggles with offensive consistency and if they find it they can easily win the tournament.
5-seed Memphis Tigers 19-12 (11-7)
Penny has the single best scorer in the entire league with Jeremiah Martin. When he’s on this is a scary team for anyone to play. Not to mention that the tournament is being held in Memphis. This could be the perfect storm for the Tigers to go on a run.
6-seed Wichita State Shockers 17-13 (10-8)
Gregg Marshall’s team quietly had a 10-8 conference season in a year where not much was expected from them. Markis McDuffie is a gamer and can rise to the occasion of a tournament to help his team go on a run.
7-seed Tulsa Golden Hurricanes 18-13 (8-10)
The fighting Frank Haiths had a hot start to the conference season and fizzled as it went on. The Golden Hurricanes shoot the ball well inside the arc, but beyond is an issue. This is an inside oriented team and they want to pound the ball on the block.
8-seed South Florida Bulls 19-12 (8-10)
Brian Gregory has done an outstanding job at South Florida and has the chance to get them to 20 wins for the first time since 2011-12. The Bulls are one of the top defensive teams in the country and they will rely on that to get their offense going. The key is if LaQuincy Rideau can play in the tournament. He missed the last two games of the season and is South Florida’s best player.
9-seed UConn Huskies 15-16 (6-12)
We knew there would be a rebuild following Kevin Ollie’s departure. Danny Hurley knew it, but in his first season you can already see some change. He’s tenacious and so is his team. There’s talent there but injuries have hurt them this year. Getting guys to play to their potential gives them a chance albeit slim.
10-seed SMU Mustangs 14-16 (6-12)
The Mustangs play a very short rotation but that group is strong offensively ranking in KenPom’s top-50. Tim Jankovich’s team is going to need to find ways to string stops together and get Jahmal McMurray going early and often.
11-seed ECU Pirates 10-20 (3-15)
Jayden Gardner is the key to ECU having any success in the AAC tournament. This team won just three games all season in conference play and two of them were against Tulane.
12-seed Tulane Green Wave 4-26 (0-18)
I will never pick a team that went 0-18 or winless in general to win their conference tournament, that is a B-Frank promise.
UConn over South Florida
Memphis over Tulane
SMU over Tulsa
Wichita State over ECU
Houston over UConn
Memphis over UCF
Cincinnati over Tulsa
Temple over Wichita State
Houston over Memphis
Cincinnati over Temple
Houston over Cincinnati