The American Athletic Conference is getting a little more preseason publicity this season than normal, but it’s for good reason. The conference is loaded with talent and have a couple of teams capable of making a Sweet 16 run in the NCAA tournament, or better if things fall right.
Houston: The Cougars lost some talent from last season, but also return the likes DeJon Jarreau and Caleb Mills. Solid on both ends of the floor, the Cougars are a little better on the defensive side.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats are pretty comparable to Houston and might be slightly better offensively and slightly worse defensively, but still one of the top defensive squads in the country. New coach John Brannen has plenty of talent returning, including Jarron Cumberland.
Memphis: Penny Hardaway has the folks in Memphis talking national championship and it may not be as far fetched as it sounds, as the Tigers had an amazing recruiting class, including James Wiseman, who many believe will be the No. 1 player taken in next year’s NBA Draft.
Wichita State: The Shockers went through a bit of a rebuilding season last year and will be solid defensively, although the offense is a slight question mark.
Connecticut: Dan Hurley returns for his second season as coach and the Huskies are good, but not great in pretty much all areas.
SMU: There will be some new faces for the Mustangs, but they do return some talent and are getting overlooked by some people.
USF: The Bulls return pretty much everybody from last year, but they’ll need a few guys to step up and show improvment from last year’s team that was 8-10 in conference play.
Temple: The days of the famed match-up zone are long gone and the Owls bring in a new coach in Aaron McKie.
UCF: Another team that lost plenty of talent, UCF is better defensively, but has to replace some key players from last year’s tournament team.
Tulsa: Another pretty decent team, the Hurricanes have the players to make a push for the upper half of the standings, as there is a bit of parity in the upper portion of the conference.
East Carolina: The Pirates aren’t a very good team, but they can take some solace in the fact they’re better than Tulane. A soft preseason schedule should see ECU reach double-digits in victories.
Tulane: The Green Wave can’t score and they can’t play defense very well. Even with a few easier preseason games, don’t see Tulane getting to 10 victories this season.
American Athletic Conference Opening Power Ratings