Record: 29-2, 16-2
This is arguably the deepest the AAC has ever been, yet Houston was dominant the entire way only losing two Games all season, one by Four points at Temple, the other by five points to UCF. In terms of efficiency, the Cougars rank in the top 20 in the country in both offense and defense, which means they’re first in both in the AAC. That will be hard to bet against this Tournament, though there could be an interesting matchup in the semifinals. That could be either UCF, who just beat Houston in Houston, or Memphis, who is playing on its home cOurt. Because of that, Houston may not be the most reasonable team to back, given the odds. Then again, they have a complete roster and showed that throughout the season, which should help in winning three Games in three days.
Record: 25-6, 14-4
Cincy took down Houston in the Championship last season, but their seeds are flipped this season, which gives Houston the edge. However, the Bearcats get the more favorable draw in the bottom of the bracket. While SMU or Tulsa could put up a fight, Cincy swept both of them in the regular season. The Bearcats also won at Temple, its likely opponent in the semifinals. This team maybe isn’t as good as last year’s version that won it all, but with Jarron Cumberland leading the way and a defense that’s once again elite, they should make it to the Championship. The problem is beating Houston, which was a major problem in the final regular season Game. The Bearcats couldn’t keep up and eventually lost 85-69 at home, after which Mick Cronin roasted his team’s effort.
Record: 23-8, 13-5
The Owls are lucky to be in this spot as they’re a 3-seed mainly because Wichita State beat Tulane on Sunday, which gave them the tiebreaker over UCF. Either way, they’re here and another win could confirm their spot in the NCAA Tournament. That said, beating Wichita State (or East Carolina) isn’t a freebie, as the Owls needed overtime to win the first meeting back in January. Even if they win that, it’s hard to see them going through the likes of Cincy and Houston en route to a title. Sure, they stole a win against Houston earlier in the season, but according to most predictive metrics, they aren’t in the same level as the top three teams in the conference.
Record: 23-7, 13-5
While Temple got the favorable draw, UCF got put in a terrible situation and that’s what it gets for losing in the finale. The Knights will likely have to play Memphis on its home cOurt and possibly be an underdog. They already lost in this situation earlier in the season, a bad 20-point loss. Even if UCF can win that Game, it will then have to take on Houston again, a team it already put everything into beating a couple weeks ago. The Knights have a good team, but the bracket doesn’t look great for them.
Record: 19-12, 11-7
The Tigers will be the most popular underdog pick simply because this Tournament is on their home cOurt where they’ve only lost two Games all season, one to Tennessee and the other to Cincinnati. Otherwise, they’ve smoked a lot of the competition with higher seeded UCF and Temple in that bunch. Still, it’s an extremely long road for the Tigers to win Four Games in Four days. Jeremiah Martin has been destroying opponents, but it’s hard to see him repeating those performances with no rest. The other players around him have to step up, which has often been a problem for this team.
Memphis is a trendy underdog pick, but the road looks too long for them to actually do it. Houston and Cincinnati met as the top seeds in last year’s Tournament and it’s looking like that could happen again. They are the two most complete teams in the Conference and this year, the edge goes to the Cougars.