To prevent having to sweat it out on Selection Sunday, UConn (21-10, 11-7 American) could do itself a huge favor by going out and winning the American Athletic Conference Tournament, which kicks off Thursday in Orlando.
Despite being the 5-seed, that's exactly what UConn is predicted to do, at least according to advanced stats guru Ken Pomeroy, creator of KenPom.com.
KenPom, which currently has the Huskies ranked 31st nationally—the highest of any AAC team—gives them a 22.8% chance of winning the AAC Tournament.
In conference games only, UConn leads the league with an Adjusted Defensive Efficiency of 93.8. Also working in UConn's favor is that KenPom's AAC Player of the Year is Daniel Hamilton, who compensates for his scoring inefficiency (only a 100.8 Offensive Rating, 38.4% FG) by controlling the defensive glass (1st in AAC in Defensive Rebounding Rate) and setting up his teammates at a high clip (3rd in AAC in Assist Rate).
KenPom refers to top-seeded Temple as "one of the weakest one-seeds I've seen since I've been doing this," noting that "There are four teams with a better chance to win the American tournament."
Of course, Temple has also beaten UConn twice already this season, and a potential third meeting would come on Saturday.
That's assuming Temple handles the winner of East Carolina-USF and that UConn gets past Cincinnati (approximately 2:30 p.m. tip on Friday, ESPN2), another opponent the Huskies have been swept by this year.
And that's where the KenPom probabilities get really juicy: UConn may have the best shot of winning the AAC Tournament at 22.8%, but just barely- and it's Cincinnati (22.2%) that just so happens to have the second best chance.
Houston, the AAC Tournament's 2-seed, has a 21.1% likelihood of winning the title while 3-seed Tulsa comes in 4th at 17.3%.
While Friday won't have quite the same feel as UConn-Duke in the 2004 Final Four—in that the national semifinal was essentially the championship, as deemed by some—it's very unlucky for both UConn and Cincinnati that they must meet so early in the AAC Tournament.
Regardless, don't be surprised if the winner of that quarterfinal is the one cutting down the nets at the Amway Center on Sunday.