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AMERICAN
ATHLETIC
CONFERENCE
XL Center
Hartford, Connecticut
March 9-12



SMU
Record: 27-4, 17-1

The Mustangs have dominated the conference all season, outside of splitting with Cincinnati. They should have close to zero problems in the quarterfinals before taking on either UCF or Memphis in the semis. From there, a third meeting with the Bearcats seems likely as those two have been a step above the rest of the conference all season. But it's hard to ignore what SMU has done lately winning its last 13 games including the home win over Cincy. They come into this tournament having absolutely demolished Memphis 103-62 in the season finale. The Mustangs are likely aiming for a 5-seed in the NCAA tournament and could have a chance at that with three wins here.

CINCINNATI
Record: 27-4, 16-2

The Bearcats are thinking the same thing as SMU and might have a better chance for a 5-seed with better wins in non-conference play. The recent loss at UCF was unfortunate after a late missed dunk, but they still come into this having beaten UConn by 20 points on the road and 3-seed Houston by 18 points before that. Cincy and SMU look destined to meet in the title game with little also standing in Cincy's way. The Bearcats likely won't be tested in the quarters before facing either UConn or Houston in the semis. The odds should be split between Cincinnati and SMU to win this tournament because that final game should end up being a push.


HOUSTON
Record: 21-9, 12-6

The Cougars had a solid season, but won't make the NCAA tournament unless they win this one and that seems unlikely. They should take care of UConn in their first game, but with the Huskies desperate to make a run themselves, it won't be easy. From there, Houston will likely fall to Cincy in the semis after getting handled by them in both matchups this season.

UCF
Record: 20-10, 11-7


MEMPHIS
Record: 19-12, 9-9

These two teams get put into the same category because the winner between them will take on SMU. UCF has the better chance, given its recent five-game winning streak, but expecting them to take down SMU is unlikely. UCF and SMU met in late January in Orlando and the Mustangs had no issue disposing of them.

CONNECTICUT
Record: 14-16, 9-9

The Huskies have to be written about simply because they are playing on one of their home courts. Granted, playing at home hasn't mattered much this season and they come in having lost four straight. The hope from the fan base is that they can make one of those patented postseason runs, but this group has a tall mountain climb. While they should get by USF easily in their first game, the Huskies will likely have to face Houston and Cincinnati and then finally SMU in the title game. The chances of them beating all three of those teams on consecutive days even though they haven't beaten one all year is extremely unlikely. Maybe next year.

As said above, this looks like SMU vs. Cincinnati: Round 3. It would make sense to put money on whatever team has the better value to win this tournament because it's hard to see either one of them being favored by more than one or two points in the final no matter how this plays out.

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