AAC College Basketball Conference Previews

After having looked at the ACC, it’s time to move to the AAC which features just two teams at 50/1 to win the NCAA Title, and a couple of long shots, followed by one really long shot.  It’s not a conference rich in talent, though it’s always hard to count out a repeating champ like the UConn Huskies, notwithstanding the team’s major losses from its roster.

All betting odds are courtesy of Bovada.

UConn Huskies (2013-14: 32-8; 12-6 Conference)
Odds to win NCAA Title: 50/1

Third-year coach Kevin Ollie may be taking winning for granted, but that doesn’t mean the Huskies will stop doing so. “Our expectation level is to win every day,” Ollie said. “When you do that, you get in the habit of winning…” The Huskies will have to replace the voids left behind by Shabazz Napier and DeAndre Daniels, but are counting on Ryan Boatright to stabilize the team. He’s in his senior season and was third on the team in scoring last year with 12 points per game.

NC State transfer Rodney Purvis started 23 games two seasons ago for the Wolfpack and posted 8.3 points and 2.4 boards in the ACC. Ollie expects him to be an “impact player” on both ends of the court. The Huskies also pack a lot of size in the interior with Phillip Nolan (6’10”) and Amida Brimah (7’0”). Freshman Daniel Hamilton arrives with a lot of promise and expectations and earned the moniker “Mr. Versatility” from Ollie.

SMU Mustangs (27-10; 12-6)
Odds to win NCAA: 50/1

The Mustangs were ranked in the top-25 for the first time in nearly three decades thanks to Larry Brown revamping the program. The team lost by two in the NIT Finals to Minnesota, and Brown will be in his third season with SMU. The 27 wins from last season ranks 2nd all time in SMU history and Brown said “in every game we played, we had a chance to win.”

SMU will use its NCAA Tournament snub from last season as motivation to come even harder at selection makers this year. The Mustangs have three returning starters, including All-AAC performers Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy. Senior ransomer Justin Martin will bring some scoring punch, but many SMU fans are still lamenting the fact that Emmanuel Mudiay chose to go overseas rather than play for Larry Brown.

Cincinnati Bearcats (27-7; 15-3)
Odds to win NCAA: 150/1

The Cincinnati Bearcats made its fourth straight NCAA tournament appearance but lost in the second round to Harvard. All-AAC guard Sean Kilpatrick is gone, and he led the league in scoring with 20.6 points per game. The team’s second and third highest scorers, Justin Jackson and Titus Rubles, are both gone, as well. There’s only two seniors on the team, but the Bearcats will bring a lot of talented youth in what figures to be a transition season.

Cincy will have a lot of size this season (three 6’10” post players) which is something the team has lacked in recent history. Farad Cobb is expected to be a major JUCO transfer who can shoot the ball well and handle it well in the backcourt. His three-point shooting will be elemental in helping the Bearcats spread the floor.

Memphis Tigers (24-10; 12-6)
Odds to win NCAA: 100/1

Memphis struggled to adapt to its new conference last year, losing 10 ages and finishing third in the AAC. The team is rebuilding with a youth-heavy roster, featuring only three guys who have played extensively at the college level. Shaq Goodwin will be back, as will Austin Nichols and Nick King, but no one else on Memphis has much experience.

The Tigers have no seniors, and Goodwin is going to have to do a heck of a lot to keep this team competitive. The 6’9” forward may win conference player of the year, and he averaged 11.5 points and 6.5 rebounds a game last year.

Tulsa Golden Hurricane (21-13; 13-3)
Odds to win NCAA: Field.

Tulsa made the NCAA tournament for the first time in 10 years last season, but its head coach Danny Manning left for Wake Forest after just two seasons in Tulsa. Former Missouri coach Frank Haith enters in his stead, and the Hurricane return four starters from last year’s C-USA championship team.

Haith likes a guard-dominant offense and a heavy defensive focus, which should accent the talents of his current core. Junior James Woodard will be the head of this team after averaging roughly 15 points and six rebounds per game last year.

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