Houston Cougars are overwhelming favorite to win AAC Tournament
The Houston Cougars are runaway favorites to win the American Athletic Conference Tournament this year, with Kelvin Sampson’s team being listed at -300 to get the job done. There are, however, a few teams that will have something to say about that, with Penny Hardaway’s Memphis Tigers being one of them. The Cougars just beat the Tigers on a buzzer beater in Memphis on Sunday, but that game had to give some of these teams some hope that they can compete this week. With that in mind, keep reading to find out how we think this tournament will shake out.
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How to Watch the American Athletic Conference Tournament
When: March 9-12
Where: Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas
Format: Seeding based on winning percentage in conference play; top-five seeds get byes into the quarterfinals
Watch: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU; Championship Game on ESPN on Mar. 12 at 3:15 p.m. ET
American Athletic Conference Tournament Bracket
American Athletic Conference Tournament Seeds, Teams and Odds
1. Houston Cougars (-300)
2. Memphis Tigers (+450)
3. Tulane Green Wave (+2200)
4. Cincinnati Bearcats (+1200)
5. Temple Owls (+3000)
6. Wichita State Shockers (+3000)
7. UCF Knights (+3000)
8. South Florida Bulls (+13000)
9. East Carolina Pirates (+40000)
10. SMU Mustangs (+25000)
11. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (+40000)
Favorite To Win American Athletic Conference Tournament
Houston is a runaway favorite to win this tournament, with the Cougars being the only team in this conference that is in the Top 30 of our VSiN Power Ratings. Houston is actually in the top spot in those rankings, which isn’t surprising considering the Cougars are also first in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency margin and first in T-Rank. This team is flat-out elite on both ends of the floor, and it would take a wildly out-of-character performance for anybody in this conference to upset Kelvin Sampson’s crew.
American Athletic Conference Tournament Darkhorse
It’s pretty hard to actually advocate for a darkhorse in a conference that features a -300 favorite to win it all (that’s extremely rare). However, if we had to take a chance on one of the teams that finished in the middle of this conference then it’d probably be UCF. The Knights don’t have many impressive victories this season, but they did nearly knock off the Miami Hurricanes earlier in the season. They also were extremely competitive in a road loss to the Cougars. UCF doesn’t have the strongest statistical profile ever, but this team has a top-40 defense and a star on the wing. Taylor Hendricks looks like a surefire first-round pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, if he decides to come out. Having an offensive threat like that, combined with a formidable defense, is a nice combination in March.
Players to Watch in American Athletic Conference Tournament
We already quickly mentioned Hendricks, but he deserves some more spotlight. The 6-foot-9 forward is averaging 15.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game for UCF this season, and he’s a very good outside shooter. If he gets hot, the Knights definitely have a chance of doing some damage this week.
For Houston, Jarace Walker is a guy that is getting lottery buzz in the 2023 NBA Draft, so he’s somebody you’ll want to know heading into this week. However, the Cougars are loaded all throughout the lineup, with Marcus Sasser being one of the best guards in the country and the team having other players that can take their turns taking over games.
We should also shine a light on Memphis’ Kendric Davis and Tulane’s Jalen Cook. Those are the two leading scorers in the conference and both players will be hoping to get hot and spark a run in this tournament.
Betting Pick to Win American Athletic Conference Tournament
Houston is most likely going to win this tournament. That’s why the Cougars are heavily favored to lift the trophy, and we probably wouldn’t advise backing a winner at all here — unless you’re throwing Sampson’s team into moneyline parlays. However, if you absolutely must make a play on this tournament, it pretty much has to be Memphis. The Tigers have at least been competitive in losses to the Cougars this year, and it’s not easy to beat a team that’s near your level three times in a row. Davis can get hot for Memphis at any moment, which would give the Tigers a chance to steal a game. DeAndre Williams is also a very good player for Hardaway’s team, so this program at least has talent that belongs on the same floor as Houston.
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