Three years as members of the American conference, three appearances in the AAC Tournament Final. In two previous championship games, UConn was upended by Louisville and SMU- both top-seeded teams.
This year UConn met the 1-seed in the semifinals and took care of business with a relatively comfortable victory over Temple. The Huskies will be meeting 6-seed Memphis (19-14, 8-10 American) in today's final (3:15 p.m., ESPN - Dave O'Brien and Doris Burke) hoping to capture its first AAC title of any kind at the Amway Center in Orlando.
UConn's run through the conference tournament has not been easy. Though the 5-seeded Huskies were projected by KenPom to have the best chance to win, they only held a slight advantage over their quarterfinal opponent: the Cincinnati Bearcats. In that game, UConn was within 0.8 seconds of its life before a Jalen Adams prayer sent the game—which was already an epic battle—into a fourth overtime where the Huskies would eventually prevail.
The Temple game the following day presented less of a challenge, as the Huskies took the lead early in the first half and never let it go. Daniel Hamilton, Shonn Miller, and Adams have all stepped up with consistent, heady play across the tournament and have Husky fans believing this team can make another run in the NCAA Tournament.
But first, it would be nice for the Huskies to eliminate any doubts going into tonight's Selection Sunday show with a win over Memphis. At least UConn has actually beaten Memphis during the regular season- something it couldn't say about its first two opponents in this tournament.
The Huskies won both meetings this season, 81-78 at Gampel Pavilion and 77-57 at FedExForum. Daniel Hamilton posted a near-triple-double in that second meeting (16 points, 12 rebounds, 8 assists) and freshman Steve Enoch proved handy off the bench in helping UConn contend with Shaq Goodwin and Dedric Lawson down low. I imagine Memphis will continue to go to those two in the post and try to find ways to keep Hamilton off rhythm defensively.
The Tigers beat a solid Tulsa team in the AAC quarterfinals and then had the fortune of taking on 10-seeded Tulane in their semifinal, blowing the Green Wave out after UConn's game against Temple. They sit at 68th nationally in KenPom despite having a losing record in American play, with the 107th-ranked offense and 53rd-ranked defense by adjusted overall efficiency. UConn sits at 66th offensively and 17th defensively and is ranked 28th in the country.
The Huskies will also have the positive mojo of being the rooting interest for any bubble team, as Memphis winning and taking the automatic NCAA Tournament bid would steal a spot from a school hoping for an at-large. Every little bit counts!
This is the open thread fam. Feel free to share your pregame thoughts and predictions and then stick around to discuss the game with your fellow fan!