Amway Center, Orlando, Florida
Record: 27-4, 16-2
The AAC is extremely top heavy with Cincinnati leading the list after beating Wichita State in the final Game of the regular season. There’s a decent chance those teams meet again in the title for a rubber match. The Bearcats shouldn’t be challenged en route to the championship Game. Neither SMU nor UConn are playing well, while it’s hard to see Tulsa or Memphis taking down Cincy in the semifinals. Backing the Bearcats to win it all makes the most sense because of the route, but also their experience. Led by Jacob Evans and Gary Clark, Cincy is well positioned to make the last Game at a minimum.
Record: 24-6, 14-4
The Shockers lost the last Game of the season and that meant they would be the 2-seed in this Tournament. The problem is that they’ll get Houston in the bottom of the bracket, a team that finished with the same AAC record. Those teams split in the regular season and there’s no reason to put one above the other. Wichita State had won seven-straight Games prior to losing to Cincy over the weekend. There will still be plenty of money on the Shockers because of the depth and experience on the team. But the problem is that they’ll be close to a pick ‘em in both the semis and final as long as Houston and Cincinnati are the two opponents. LAndry Shamet gives Wichita elite point guard play, while Shaq Morris and Rashard Kelly provide experience in the frontcOurt. Those are valuable things come Tournament time.
Record: 24-6, 14-4
Just like Wichita State, the Cougars will be hard to bet on to win this Tournament. For starters, they’ll likely have to go through the Shockers in the semifinals and if they get past them, another meeting with Cincy will probably be waiting for them. Houston split with both Wichita and Cincinnati this season so winning is more than possible. The Cougars come in having won eight of their last nine, but have arguably the hardest route of any of the top AAC teams. Even UCF in the quarterfinals could be a difficult matchup considering this Tournament is in Orlando. They have experience at most positions, but winning away from home has been an issue for them all season.
The odds are low for anyone else in the Conference to win this Tournament, although the Knights could make a run in their hometown. Memphis is playing better having won five of its last six, but still lost by 24 points at home to USF in that stretch. Temple has plenty of highs, but also a ton of lows and lost its last two to UConn and Tulsa. Speaking of the Golden Hurricane, which surprisingly got a 4-seed, they’ve quietly gone under the radar. Tulsa has won eight of its last nine Games and may end up being Cincy’s opponent in the semifinals. If you want a long shot, Tulsa is probably the answer, albeit a really long one.
The Bearcats are the most reasonable team to back simply because of Schedule, but for better odds, Houston may be the way to go with hopes it can upset its way to the Championship.