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UConn Blog Staff Picks: American Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Preview 2015-16

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The UConn Blog staff makes its picks for the 2015-16 American Athletic Conference men's basketball season.

Markus Kennedy and the Mustangs won't have a postseason to play for. Can Daniel Hamilton and the Huskies take advantage?
Markus Kennedy and the Mustangs won't have a postseason to play for. Can Daniel Hamilton and the Huskies take advantage?
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The 2015-16 college basketball season is only a couple weeks away. It's time to start making predictions for the season.

In its third season, the American Athletic Conference promises to be more competitive than ever. UConn has reloaded, Cincinnati and Memphis are looking competitive as usual and SMU will not go quietly into the night as its postseason ban takes effect.

There are a slew of other teams ready to make some noise in the conference. As recruiting improves and competition gets tighter, the American—like its football counterpart—is only going to get better to watch.

The staff of The UConn Blog has deliberated. We have compiled our predictions, from regular season and conference champion, to individual awards, to how many bids the conference gets to the NCAA Tournament. You have questions? We have answers in our American preview.

The Voters: Tim FontenaultAman KidwaiElan-Paolo DeCarloDan MadiganMatt GionfriddoBen CantorTucker WarnerBen ZachsKaveh Jam

How They'll Finish

1) UConn, 97 points, 7 first-place votes (2014-15 record: 20-15, 10-8 American, 6th)

Elan: The pure talent on this team assembled by Kevin Ollie is enough to give the Huskies their first regular season American Athletic Conference title. Look for Rodney Purvis and Daniel Hamilton to leap to another stratosphere in their second season in Storrs. The transfers Ollie brought in, Sterling Gibbs and Shonn Miller, give the team more depth than they've had in years.

Matt: Kevin Ollie has plenty of depth and talent with incoming players Jalen Adams, Steve Enoch, Shonn Miller and Sterling Gibbs joining forces with the three-headed monster of Amida Brimah, Daniel Hamilton and Omar Calhoun Rodney Purvis. Phil Nolan and Kentan Facey are also more than viable options in the frontcourt, while Omar Calhoun and Sam Cassell Jr. are coming into the season with something to prove. It may take some time for the Huskies to gel, but by the time March rolls around, the team should be in full beast mode. It could very well be another special season in Storrs.

2) SMU, 89 points, 2 first-place votes (2014-15 record: 27-7, 15-3 American, 1st)

Tucker: Probably the only team in the conference that could compete with UConn in terms of talent, SMU returns a lot of top players, including Nic Moore, last year's conference player of the year. Markus Kennedy is one of the best forwards in the American, and Keith Frazier is fully eligible (so far) for this season. And they've got a couple nice transfers too. The postseason ban, and the imminent (and inevitable) ugly Larry Brown exit will probably hold them back a bit, but they're too good to finish outside of the top three in the conference.

Dan: SMU is an extremely dangerous team, and probably the best team in the American on paper. Players like Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy have experience and talent that few teams in the conference can match up with. I picked them to finish second largely because the loss of Larry Brown for nine games will hurt this team enough to derail them of a regular season championship. Also, for a program that was building so much momentum (a new conference, renovated arena, basketball relevance for the first time in decades), I think this postseason ban will have a really large effect on the team's effort/morale and its fanbase. Unlike when it happened to UConn, SMU really has no track record of success, and this ban has really put all of the program's recent progress to a grinding halt.

3) Cincinnati, 84 points (2014-15 record: 23-11, 13-5 American, 3rd)

Tim: Another year older for Cincinnati, and that means danger for the rest of the conference. I've got the Bearcats finishing third, but with an experienced rotation—Jermaine Sanders is the only departure—this is going to be a great team, capable of winning sweeping the regular season and conference titles. Mick Cronin's side might even be good enough to make an incredibly deep run in March. I love the way Cincinnati plays defense. Games won't be high-scoring, but the experienced Bearcats will be fun to watch.

Kaveh: The Bearcats remain mostly intact from a year ago. In Octavius Ellis and Gary Clark, Cincy rolls out one of the better rebounding frontlines in the conference. Coupled with a smash-mouth style of offense, it becomes apparent this team is a load to handle and a serious contender for the conference crown.

4) Tulsa, 70 points (2014-15 record: 23-11, 14-4 American, 2nd)

Aman: The Golden Hurricane return every member of a team which was on the brink of making the NCAA Tournament last year. They might be the final ones in the conference to make the cut, and with James Woodard and Shaq Harrison leading the way could even finish a step higher.

Ben C.: Tulsa may have the best backcourt in the conference with James Woodard and Shaq Harrison. Outside of those two, the team is just not that strong. In games when Woodard and Harrison are slowed, Tulsa will struggle. Good guards win games in college basketball and with a weaker AAC, these two will win games alone.

5) Temple, 63 points (2014-15 record: 26-11, 13-5 American, 4th)

Matt: Losing Will Cummings and Jesse Morgan hurts, but it will finally be Quenton DeCosey's team as he steps out of the shadow of Cummings. Head coach Fran Dunphy will be handing the keys to the offense to the 6-foot-5-inch senior guard who averaged more than 12 points and four rebounds last season. Senior Jaylen Bond and sophomore Obi Enechionyia will look to make significant strides in their second season with the Owls.

Ben Z.: After the top four, the league gets pretty bad, fast. Temple gets this spot by default. Losing Will Cummings is a huge blow to this team. Yet, Fran Dunphy always puts out a solid outfit defensively. Think about old Cincy teams that are even worse offensively and you have the 2015-16 Temple Owls. It may be offensive to watch (pun), but will lead to some wins.

6) Memphis, 54 points (2014-15 record: 18-14, 10-8 American, 5th)

Tim: Losing Austin Nichols hurts. It hurts a lot. The stud forward's departure for Virginia was just part of the mess Josh Pastner had to deal with. Nick King is gone, as well. The Tigers are going to rely heavily on the hometown Lawson twins, which is going to be a lot of pressure for Dedric and K.J. Look for Dedric to win Rookie of the Year as he steps into Nichols spot. But even with the Lawsons and Shaq Goodwin, the loss of Nichols and potential season-ending injury to Kedren Johnson could be too much for Memphis to handle. Pastner could be on the hot seat soon, if he is not already.

Dan: Memphis is volatile team with one of the best big men in the conference in Shaq Goodwin. However, the loss of Austin Nichols is going to hurt this team tremendously. Nichols averaged 13.3 points and 6.1 rebounds last year, and I don't think the Tigers have any players capable of stepping up and replicating that this season.

7) Houston, 44 points (2014-15 record: 13-19, 4-14 American, 10th)

Aman: We're entering the "hot garbage" portion of the rankings. With the Cougars losing their top scorer from last year, they might not beat UConn this year.

Dan: Last year, Houston won 13 games. This year, the Cougars return four of their top five scorers and add transfers Ronnie Johnson from Purdue and Damyean Dotson from Oregon. While head coahc Kelvin Sampson has only been at the school for one season, he has already managed to bring in some high-major talents, and is starting to build Houston into a formidable team in this conference. This year is the first step in the right direction for that.

8) UCF, 32 points (2014-15 record: 12-18, 5-13 American, 9th)

Matt: Sophomores B.J Taylor (12.8 points per game) and Adonys Henriquez (10.8) will eventually be names to know in the American, but they are most likely a year away from making some serious noise. Coach Donnie Jones has two must-see players in 6-foot-10-inch, 325-pound big man Justin McBride and 7-foot-6-inch center Tacko Fall.

Ben Z.: I know eighth is nothing to write home about, but I like UCF this year. I pray Tacko Fall and Justin McBride get time on the court together. That will be awesome to watch. B.J. Taylor and Adonys Henriquez will be fun at the guard spots.

9) East Carolina, 31 points (2014-15 record: 14-19, 6-12 American, 8th)

Aman: This sentence fulfills my contractual obligation to say something about the East Carolina Pirates, who are coached by Jeff Lebo.

Tim: Six-foot-10-inch forward Marshall Guilmette was the tallest player in East Carolina's rotation by three inches, which is obviously a hassle when playing against big teams like UConn, SMU, Cincinnati and...UCF (how about that Tacko Fall, fella?). There still isn't a lot there right now. The Pirates lost one of the conference's top defensive guards, Antonio Robinson (4.3 steal percentage ranked 18th nationally, per KenPom). That's a tough loss for ECU.

10) Tulane, 18 points (2014-15 record: 15-16, 6-12 American, 7th)

Tucker: The freshmen coming in are talented, but they're still freshmen. And they're not going to be enough on their own to turn the Green Wave around, especially given the loss of three starters from last year's team.

Tim: My man Jonny Harvey, the former sports editor at the Tulane Hullabloo, speaks highly of the future for the Green Wave, and I am inclined to agree. Four-star prospect Melvin Frazier highlights this year's class, and Tulane already has two three-star prospects committed for next year. It will get easier to recruit to New Orleans as time goes on, but the future is not here yet.

11) USF, 12 points (2014-15 record: 9-23, 3-15 American, 11th)

Tucker: Orlando Antigua is definitely giving it his all to turn this program around, but the talent just isn't there yet. Losing last year's best player, Corey Allen, easily their best offensive player (on a team that ranked 319th in offensive efficiency) might sink them even further, even though there are some quality players on the Bulls.

Elan: Orlando Antigua's program is bad now, but they won't be forever. Look for Maryland transfer Roddy Peters to have a strong season for the Bulls.

Conference Tournament Champion

UConn: No bias from the staff on this one. With SMU out of the postseason picture, the Huskies are the clear favorite to win the American championship in Orlando come March. Lead by Daniel Hamilton, UConn should be able to clinch an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since winning the Big East and national championships in 2011. Where the staff differs is on the matter of who will lose to UConn in the final on Selection Sunday. Cincinnati seems to be the favorite among the group, while Tulsa looks like a contender, as well.

Individual Awards

Player of the Year: Nic Moore, SMU

  • Tim: Moore was the player of the year last season, and there is no reason to expect this year to be any different. With the Mustangs out of postseason contention, SMU's senior leader is going to be playing with a chip on his shoulder. It is going to be a big year for the Indiana native.
  • Matt: Despite his stature, Nic Moore is one of the most fun players to watch in the country. The 5-foot-9-inch guard is an incredible shooter (41.6 percent from three last season) who has superb court vision (5.1 assists per game). Some players just have "it," and Moore is one of those players.

Rookie of the Year: Dedric Lawson, Memphis

  • Tucker: This pick is essentially operating under the assumption that Jalen Adams will come off the bench, but Lawson has a real chance to make his mark on a Memphis team that will be counting on his production from day one. It's a tall order, but he has the skill to perform to expectation.
  • Ben Z.: With Nichols leaving, someone needs to score for Memphis. Lawson is a skilled forward who can shoot from deep and take advantage in the post. Oftentimes, Rookie of the Year is more about opportunity than skill. Jalen Adams may be the best freshman in the AAC, but Lawson will get the shots needed to put up big numbers.

Coach of the Year: Kevin Ollie, UConn

  • Elan: All doubts about his recruiting ability should be thrown out the window. Bringing in Jalen Adams and Steven Enoch, alongside transfers like Sterling Gibbs, Shonn Miller and Terry Larrier, has shown that Ollie is in fact an elite recruiter. What needs to happen now is Ollie has to prove he can improve his in-game coaching. With so much talent available and without a Shabazz Napier or Ryan Boatright, Ollie needs to adapt his offensive mentality.
  • Tim: In July, I declared UConn will win the national championship in 2016, and I stand by that. This team is good enough to go the distance and win the program's fifth title, assuming all the pieces come together. Last year, the Huskies had no chemistry and had to recover from losing Shabazz Napier, DeAndre Daniels and Niels Giffey, but they still almost made the NCAA Tournament. Missing was obviously a disappointment, considering the standard at an elite program like UConn, but Ollie has done a good job of filling his team with talented players and leaders. If he can keep improving his in-game adjustments, look out for the Huskies in March.

Preseason All-AAC Team

Nic Moore, Senior G, SMU

2014-15 averages: 14.5 points (.420 FG%, .416 3P%), 2.3 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.3 steals

James Woodard, Senior G, Tulsa

2014-15 averages: 14.5 points (.407 FG%, .370 3P%), 4.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.9 steals

Sterling Gibbs, Graduate G, UConn

2014-15 averages (at Seton Hall): 16.3 points (.431 FG%, .436 3P%), 2.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.2 steals

Daniel Hamilton, Sophomore F, UConn

2014-15 averages: 10.9 points (.380 FG%, .343 3P%), 7.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 0.9 steals

Markus Kennedy, Senior F, SMU

2014-15 averages: 11.9 points (.548 FG%), 6.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.8 blocks

Honorable Mentions: Shaq Goodwin (Memphis), Octavius Ellis (Cincinnati), Amida Brimah (UConn), Troy Caupain (Cincinnati), Rodney Purvis (UConn), Gary Clark (Cincinnati)

How the Staff Voted

Tim Fontenault

Aman Kidwai

Dan Madigan

Elan DeCarlo

Matt Gionfriddo

Ben Cantor

Tucker Warner

Ben Zachs

Kaveh Jam

Champion

SMU

UConn

UConn

UConn

UConn

UConn

UConn

UConn

SMU

2nd

UConn

Cincinnati

SMU

SMU

SMU

Cincinnati

SMU

Cincinnati

UConn

3rd

Cincinnati

SMU

Cincinnati

Cincinnati

Cincinnati

SMU

Cincinnati

SMU

Cincinnati

4th

Tulsa

Tulsa

Temple

Tulsa

Tulsa

Tulsa

Tulsa

Tulsa

Temple

5th

Temple

Temple

Tulsa

Temple

Temple

Memphis

Memphis

Temple

Tulsa

6th

Memphis

Memphis

Memphis

Memphis

Houston

Temple

Temple

Houston

Memphis

7th

Houston

Houston

Houston

Houston

Memphis

UCF

East Carolina

Memphis

Houston

8th

UCF

UCF

UCF

East Carolina

UCF

East Carolina

Houston

UCF

East Carolina

9th

East Carolina

East Carolina

East Carolina

Tulane

East Carolina

Houston

UCF

USF

Tulane

10th

Tulane

USF

Tulane

UCF

Tulane

Tulane

Tulane

East Carolina

UCF

11th

USF

Tulane

USF

USF

USF

USF

USF

Tulane

USF

Player of the Year Nic Moore, SMU Daniel Hamilton, UConn Nic Moore, SMU Rodney Purvis, UConn Nic Moore, SMU Nic Moore, SMU Shaq Goodwin, Memphis Nic Moore, SMU Nic Moore, SMU
Rookie of the Year Dedric Lawson, Memphis Dedric Lawson, Memphis Jalen Adams, UConn Jalen Adams, UConn Jalen Adams, UConn Jalen Adams, UConn Dedric Lawson, Memphis Dedric Lawson, Memphis Dedric Lawson, Memphis
Coach of the Year Kevin Ollie, UConn Mick Cronin, Cincinnati Fran Dunphy, Temple Kevin Ollie, UConn Kevin Ollie, UConn Mick Cronin, Cincinnati Kevin Ollie, UConn; Frank Haith, Tulsa Kelvin Sampson, Houston Kevin Ollie, UConn
All-AAC Team Nic Moore (SMU), Daniel Hamilton (UConn), James Woodard (Tulsa), Markus Kennedy (SMU), Octavius Ellis (Cincinnati) Nic Moore (SMU), Troy Caupain (Cincinnati), Daniel Hamilton (UConn), Markus Kennedy (SMU), Amida Brimah (UConn Nic Moore (SMU), Sterling Gibbs (UConn), Daniel Hamilton (UConn), Shaq Goodwin (Memphis), Octavius Ellis (Cincinnati) Rodney Purvis (UConn), Nic Moore (SMU), Daniel Hamilton (UConn), Shaq Goodwin (Memphis), Amida Brimah (UConn) Nic Moore (SMU), Sterling Gibbs (UConn), Markus Kennedy (SMU), Daniel Hamilton (UConn), James Woodard (Tulsa) Nic Moore (SMU), James Woodard (Tulsa), Daniel Hamilton (UConn), Gary Clark (Cincinnati), Markus Kennedy (SMU) Nic Moore (SMU), Sterling Gibbs (UConn), Shaq Goodwin (Memphis), Markus Kennedy (SMU), Amida Brimah (UConn) Daniel Hamilton (UConn), Nic Moore (SMU), James Woodard (Tulsa), Markus Kennedy (SMU), Troy Caupain (Cincinnati) Nic Moore (SMU), Sterling Gibbs (UConn), James Woodard (Tulsa), Daniel Hamilton (UConn), Octavius Ellis (Cincinnati)
Conference Championship Game

UConn over Cincinnati

UConn over Cincinnati

UConn over Cincinnati

UConn over Cincinnati

UConn over Tulsa

UConn over Cincinnati

Cincinnati over UConn

UConn over Cincinnati

UConn over Cincinnati

Top Incoming Recruit on Each Team

  • UCF: Tacko Fall – A 7-foot-6-inch center, Fall is going to be quite a site to behold when he teams up with fellow giant Justin McBride in the UCF frontcourt this season. Good luck driving to the rim on those two.
  • Cincinnati: Jacob Evans – The No. 99 player on Rivals150 gives the Bearcats another solid wing option. But with such a deep squad, the Baton Rouge, Louisiana native may not break into the rotation early on.
  • UConn: Jalen Adams – UConn is not far removed from its last Roxbury, Massachusetts native. Will Adams' UConn career even be comparable to that of Shabazz Napier, a two-time national champion and the fourth-greatest scorer in UConn history?
  • East Carolina: Deng Riak – Riak is the bright spot of a lackluster class for the Pirates. The four-star forward averaged 12 points and eight rebounds last season at Victory Rock Prep in Bradenton, Florida.
  • Houston: Galen Robinson Jr. – The lone freshman for the Cougars in 2015-16, Robinson is a homegrown product who turned down offers from Wichita State and TCU to play for Houston. Last season, Robinson was named the top high school player in Houston, leading Westbury Christian to its third straight Texas state title.
  • Memphis: Dedric Lawson – The Lawson twins are ready to make a big splash at Memphis, but Dedric could have the bigger impact out of the gate. With Austin Nichols now at Virginia, Lawson could slide into that starting role immediately. It will come down to Lawson and Jalen Adams for the Rookie of the Year award in the conference.
  • USF: Tulio Da Silva – The Bulls got a few players in the 6-6 to 6-8 range, including Da Silva, a solid small forward who will help Orlando Antigua's squad as he builds toward the future.
  • SMU: Shake Milton – The list of schools that offered Milton is extensive: Baylor, Creighton, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Tulsa. SMU was the lucky victor of the No. 66 player on the Rivals150. Milton and fellow freshman Sedrick Barefield can take the point guard pressure off Nic Moore, allowing him to play off the ball at times.
  • Temple: Levan Alston – With Will Cummings gone and a shallow bench behind the returning players, Alston may get his chance this season.
  • Tulane: Melvin Frazier – Tulane doesn't get four-star recruits often, but the rise in conference has opened the door for the Green Wave. The Louisiana native made a statement when he passed up on an offer from LSU, as well as several other high-major programs.
  • Tulsa: Sterling Taplin – The Golden Hurricane locked Taplin up last October, and after a post-grad year at St. Thomas More in Connecticut, the three-star guard could help out in the backcourt behind James Woodard and Shaq Harrison.

Top 10 Non-UConn, Non-Conference Games

  • Temple vs. North Carolina (in Annapolis, Md.), Nov. 13, 7 p.m., CBS Sports Network: Temple opens the season with the toughest test imaginable, going up against the potential No. 1 team in the country in the Veterans Classic.
  • Memphis vs. Oklahoma, Nov. 17, 5 p.m., ESPN: The analysts at CBS have Oklahoma at No. 8 in their preseason 1-351 rankings. With questions being asked of the Tigers, a big home game against the Sooners early in the season will be a big test for a young Memphis team.
  • Tulsa vs. Wichita State, Nov. 17, 8 p.m., ESPN3: Nov. 17 will be a big night for a few teams in the American, especially Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane will be one of the teams to watch in the American, especially in regards to challenging the top three. Wichita State is the best of the mid-majors, with Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet returning to lead Gregg Marshall's squad. It's too bad this is not on national television.
  • Memphis vs. Ohio State (in Miami, Fla.), Nov. 27, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2: The highlight for the Tigers in the Basketball Hall of Fame Invitational is a trip to Florida to take on Thad Matta's Buckeyes. Expectations are low for Ohio State, with the departure of D'Angelo Russell, but if JaQuan Lyle can step up, the Buckeyes could surprise some people in the Big 10.
  • Temple at Wisconsin, Dec. 5, 12:30 p.m., CBS: Temple may have the strongest non-conference schedule in the conference. A few weeks after North Carolina, the Owls head to Madison to take on the national runner-ups.
  • Cincinnati at Xavier, Dec. 12, 5:30 p.m., FOX: This is on here by default. The Crosstown Shootout is always a great game. It helps Cincinnati and Xavier are both expected to be strong, tournament-caliber teams this season. It is bound to be a fight. Get it?
  • Houston vs. LSU, Dec. 13, 8 p.m., ESPNU: December provides a few interesting tests for a Houston team looking to surprise some people, mainly two in a five-day stretch. After getting back from a difficult test against Rhode Island, the Cougars will host LSU and top recruit Ben Simmons (No. 2 Rivals, No. 1 ESPN). Houston does not get many tests against power-conference foes—LSU is the only one on the schedule—so Kelvin Sampson's squad will have a chance to impress.
  • Cincinnati vs. Iowa State, Dec. 22, 7 p.m., ESPN2: What will life be like for Iowa State under the guidance of Steve Prohm? Georges Niang and Jameel McKay lead a solid returning group, so the Cyclones should remain one of the best teams in the country. It's not like Prohm is a newbie. He brought the Racers to prominence among the mid-majors. After Colorado and Iowa, Cincinnati will be another huge test for Iowa State early in the season.
  • SMU vs. Gonzaga, Feb. 13, 10 p.m., ESPN2: This will be one of the biggest games of the season for the Mustangs, given the postseason ban. This is the closest to an NCAA Tournament game they will get, and it is a great one to have at Moody, which will certainly be rocking. Gonzaga's Kyle Wiltjer could be a national player of the year contender, and the Bulldogs are only losing Kevin Pangos from last season's great team.
  • Temple vs. Villanova, Feb. 17, 7 p.m., ESPN2: This has to be on the list. The two best teams of the Big Five at Temple during ESPN's Rivalry Week. This will be a showdown worth watching, regardless of who your rooting interest is.

How Many Bids for the American?

  • Tim, 3: UConn, Cincinnati and Tulsa. Right when I start to think the American is going to start getting respect, SMU goes and gets banned from the postseason. The top six in the American is very good, but unless Memphis and Temple win those big non-conference games, I don't see the committee giving much love to the American. I think UConn's got the makings of a dangerous 3-seed. Cincinnati will get be a 5- or 6-seed. I could see Tulsa being a tough out as a 10-seed if it gets the right matchup.
  • Aman, 3: UConn, Cincinnati and Tulsa. With SMU's unfortunate circumstances, it will just be these three dancing this year, I think. I guess SMU should have pushed its players through fake classes or self-imposed a postseason ban after losing to UCLA so it could have avoided this horrible fate brought on by sullying the good name of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. On the plus side for the Mustangs, 100 percent of the American Athletic Conference teams which have been banned from the NCAA Tournament have won the whole thing the next year.
  • Elan, 3: UConn, Cincinnati and Tulsa.
  • Dan, 3: UConn, Cincinnati and Temple. UConn gets in either at-large or with the automatic bid from winning the conference championship. That's a given. Cincinnati should get in as well as a low seed. They return a lot of talent from last year like Octavius Ellis and Troy Caupain and will have head coach Mick Cronin back at the helm. Either Tulsa or Temple squeak in this year as well, but I'm going with the Owls. I had the chance to see the team play a few games at the AAC tournament last year and was blown away with their size, skill and talent. Temple will have a tough time dealing with the loss of Will Cummings and Jesse Morgan, but I think the Owls could really make some noise and surprise some people with an NCAA tournament berth this season.
  • Ben, 3: UConn, Cincinnati and Tulsa. The AAC has been repeatedly disrespected by the tournament committee every selection Sunday, and I don't see that changing any time soon. I predict the committee will once again opt for power five teams to get in over Temple and Memphis much like a mediocre UCLA team reaching the tournament over the Owls this past March.
  • Matt, 4: UConn, Cincinnati, Tulsa and Temple. It would be five with SMU eligible, but obviously they are not, and I don't see a scenario where Memphis or Houston gets enough quality wins to be in the discussion. UConn, Cincy, and Tulsa should all be locks while Temple may need a couple wins down the stretch.
  • Tucker, 3: UConn and Cincinnati are just about in for sure, and I have to assume that whoever has better wins between Tulsa and Memphis will get into the tournament also. A fourth AAC bid might be too much to ask for, especially with the bottom half looking very weak for a league that's trying to compete with the power conferences.
  • Ben, 3: UConn, Cincinnati and Tulsa. SMU would have made four. The league just is not very good or deep this year. Having said that, UConn and Cincinnati will be firmly in the tournament the entire season and be given top-six seeds. Tulsa will have a tougher fight, but will make it as a bubble team.
  • Kaveh, 3: UConn, Cincinnati and Memphis/Tulsa/Temple. SMU's postseason ban leaves UConn, Cincinnati and one bubble team, which likely will be determined in conference play between Memphis, Tulsa and Temple. The Tigers could be a reach but are the intriguing choice here if the Lawson brothers and Shaq Goodwin are as good as advertised.