We’ve got a new venue alert for the AAC Tournament! For the first time, the tournament will be held in the state of Texas at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth. That would certainly seem to help out the #2 seed Houston and the underachieving #7 seed SMU as action begins on Thursday March 12.
All 12 teams are in the field and a late surge by Cincinnati gave the Bearcats the #1 seed, but the three teams at the top tied with identical 13-5 records. Houston split with Cincinnati and Tulsa, but Cincinnati won its only game against Tulsa and got the first spot via the tiebreaker.
The AAC is a good league. Per BracketMatrix, the AAC looks to have three teams in the field right now, with what could be an under-seeded Houston team, Wichita State, and Cincinnati. This is a really big week for the conference and especially Wichita State and Cincinnati. A run for Tulsa, Memphis, or even UConn could steal a berth from an at-large hopeful, though it could just steal a bid for another team in this conference.
Here are the teams, seeds, standings, and odds from BetOnline Sportsbook for the 2020 AAC Tournament:
- Cincinnati 20-10 (13-5) (record vs. UH/Tulsa) +275
- Houston 23-8 (13-5) (record vs. UC/Tulsa) +200
- Tulsa 21-10 (13-5) +600
- Wichita State 23-8 (11-7) +400
- UConn 19-12 (10-8) (record vs. UC/UH/Tulsa) +1000
- Memphis 21-10 (10-8) +450
- SMU 19-11 (9-9) +2500
- UCF 16-14 (7-11) (record vs. UC/UH/Tulsa) +5000
- USF 14-17 (7-11) +5000
- Temple 14-17 (6-12) +5000
- East Carolina 11-20 (5-13) +10000
- Tulane 12-18 (4-14) +10000
Just think about what could have been for some of these teams. Tulsa had the season that somebody like SMU or UCF was hoping to have and Memphis was expected to sore to new heights with a remarkably talented crop of freshmen. The AAC could very well have had itself on the precipice of being described in the same breath as the Big East, at least as far as the top teams go.
Instead, we look at some overachievers, underachievers, and what some would say are fairly weak #1 and #3 seeds in this conference. We also see a conference that should be very competitive in Fort Worth.
Here is the schedule for the 2020 American Athletic Conference Tournament:
Thursday March 12
12 p.m. CT: 9 USF vs. 8 UCF
2 p.m. CT: 12 Tulane vs. 5 UConn
7 p.m. CT: 10 Temple vs. 7 SMU
9 p.m. CT: 11 East Carolina vs. 6 Memphis
Friday March 13
12 p.m. CT: 9/8 winner vs. 1 Cincinnati
2 p.m. CT: 12/5 winner vs. 4 Wichita State
6:30 p.m. CT: 10/7 winner vs. 2 Houston
8:30 p.m. CT: 11/6 winner vs. 3 Tulsa
Saturday March 14
2 p.m. CT: 9/8/1 winner vs. 12/5/4 winner
4 p.m. CT: 10/7/2 winner vs. 11/6/3 winner
Sunday March 15
2:15 p.m. CT: Championship Game
You have to hand it to John Brannen. It was a little bit iffy at the start, but after a 3-2 start to conference play, Cincinnati went on a 10-3 run, with two of the three defeats coming in overtime, to get the #1 seed. A big 64-63 win over Temple on Senior Day in the Queen City was the springboard to the top spot.
The irony is that being the #1 may not be the best course of action here. Cincinnati does avoid Houston and Memphis, but USF and UCF are not cakewalks in the first game and the likely winner of Wichita State vs. UConn is not easy either. It may have almost been better to be the #2 seed and draw a defensively-deficient SMU team or an offensively-inept Temple team. Memphis seems to have more than a puncher’s chance to knock off a Tulsa team that defends pretty well, but has some offensive issues.
The teams in the middle are all pretty decent. UConn knocked off Houston in the last week of the regular season and went 1-3 in overtime games, including a win over Cincinnati. Wichita State is allegedly on the bubble, even though the Shockers haven’t done anything all that impressive of late, though they did lose two close games to Cincinnati.
No path is all that easy in this conference tournament. Upsets could be quite prevalent because nobody comes into this tournament setting the world ablaze. All of these teams have either suffered recent defeats or taken advantage of playing the bad teams in this league.
For the most part, this is a good conference and the teams that can’t score defend well and the teams that can’t defend score a lot of points.
Ultimately, though, the nod has to go to Houston. The Cougars are the best team in this conference bar none and are listed as a top-15 caliber team by Bart Torvik and Ken Pomeroy. The Cougars get the advantage of playing in the Lone Star State, where they are not the true home team like SMU, but they are going to have a good bit of crowd support.
There is an element of “anything you can do, I can do better” for Houston in this conference. While Wichita State and Memphis grade better defensively, they are nowhere near Houston’s level offensively.
The price is Houston isn’t stellar. It rarely is on the favorite. But they’re the most complete team in the AAC.
Pick: Houston +200