The American Athletic Conference Tournament kicks of this March 9th, 2017 with a trio of opening round games. The 8th Temple Owls take on the 9th seeded East Carolina Pirates, while the 7th seeded Tulsa Golden Hurricanes battle the 10th seeded Tulane Green Wave and the 6th seeded Connecticut Huskies lock horns with the South Florida Bulls.
The American Athletic Conference is comprised of eleven teams, all which qualify for the tournament. The top dog this year was the SMU Mustangs, who were an absolute force with a 17-1 record in conference play. The only mishap came on the road against the second seeded Cincinnati Bearcats. The Mustangs have won 13 straight games and 23 of their last 24 games. This is a Mustang squad that’s not going to be cheated of being included in the field of 68, that’s for sure!
The schedule are as follows:
Thursday, March 9 (First Round)
Game 1: No. 8 Temple vs. No. 9 East Carolina, 3:30 p.m., ESPNU
Game 2: No. 7 Tulsa 66, No. 10 Tulane 60
Game 3: No. 6 UConn vs. No. 11 USF, 8 p.m., ESPNews
Friday, March 10 (Quarterfinals)
Game 4: No. 1 SMU vs. Game 1 winner, noon, ESPN2
Game 5: No. 4 UCF vs. No. 5 Memphis, 2 p.m., ESPN2
Game 6: No. 2 Cincinnati vs. No. 7 Tulsa, 7 p.m., ESPNU
Game 7: No. 3 Houston vs. Game 3 winner, 9 p.m., ESPNU
Saturday, March 11 (Semifinals)
Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 3 p.m., ESPN2
Game 6 winner vs. Game 7 winner, 5 p.m., ESPN2
Sunday, March 12 (Championship)
Semifinal winners, 3:15 p.m., ESPN
Prediction: As good as the SMU Mustangs are, I’ve got the Cincinnati Bearcats taking the AAC Tournament. I always lean towards the more defensive team and the Bearcats feature some of the very best defenses in the nation.
On the season, the Bearcats went 27-4 and more impressively 16-2 in conference. The Bearcats were solid at home this season, going a perfect 18-0. Their only hiccups came on the road and one on a neutral floor. As far as marquee wins, they have a few really top notch wins. The road victory over the Iowa St. Cyclones and home victories over the Xavier Muskeeters and SMU Mustangs stand out the most. Wins over the UCF Knights and a season sweep over the Houston Cougars are good too.
According to Ken Pomeroy, the Bearcats are the 19th ranked team. They rank 42nd on offense and 7th on defense. In the AAC, they were the second best offense and obviously, the number one defense. They have one of the biggest teams in terms of length, which has made it hard for teams to score anything in the paint.
The American Athletic Conference Tournament games are taking place in Hartford, Connecticut. If there’s any home court advantage, it would be the Connecticut Huskies. It won’t matter though, as the Huskies are in need of some guard play to compliment there forwards. Anyways, I’m all about defense and Mick Cronin has his squad playing some the best. I got the Bearcats taking the AAC Tournament!