The American Athletic Conference Tournament will start any minute now, but perhaps you don’t feel like following along all weekend. Well then you are in luck, because this post will detail exactly how each game will go over the course of the next four days. Using my second-hand clairvoyance from resident prognosticator Clayton Trutor, I can make these predictions with confidence ... until I get one wrong and everything crumbles around me. To the picks!
No. 8 UConn vs. No. 9 SMU
This is the most interesting game of day one and it is also the first one. SMU is better than the No. 9 seed but it doesn’t have Shake Milton and hasn’t for a while. Jalen Adams and Christian Vital are a nice duo for the Huskies and the Mustangs have just been dreadful down the stretch, losing eight of their last nine.
The Pick: UConn 66 SMU 59
No. 5 Memphis vs. No. 12 USF
Is Penny Hardaway going to be in the building? God I hope so. Otherwise this is a pretty boring game since USF is just dreadful, even if the Bulls did get to 10 wins for the first time since 2014.
The Pick: Memphis 79 USF 61
No. 7 Temple vs. No. 10 Tulane
These two teams split their season series, so this one has a real chance at being competitive. The Green Wave have real stars in Melvin Frazier and Cameron Reynolds, I like them for the upset.
The Pick: Tulane 74 Temple 70
No. 6 UCF vs. No. 11 East Carolina
Somehow, some way, East Carolina earned a higher seed than USF even though the Pirates are the worst team in the conference according to KenPom. They rank 309th (USF is 284th). But we’re here to talk about the other Florida team. The Knights have fallen off course since losing Tacko Fall for the season, but they still defend like crazy. The Pirates don’t, allowing an AAC-high 75.2 points per game.
The Pick: UCF 62 East Carolina 49
No. 1 Cincinnati vs. No. 8 UConn
Yawn. Wake me up in the semifinals at least.
The Pick: Cincinnati 80, UConn 3
No. 4 Tulsa vs. No. 5 Memphis
I learned that Tulsa is actually pretty good a few weeks ago when the Golden Hurricane nearly upset the Bearcats at BB&T Arena. While these two teams split the season series, the Golden Hurricane are rolling, with that missed opportunity against UC their only loss since January.
The Pick: Tulsa 71 Memphis 65
No. 2 Wichita State vs. No. 10 Tulane
Congratulations, Tulane. You just upset the No. 7 seed. Now you get to be beat to a pulp by Shaquille Morris and Landry Shamet.
The Pick: Wichita State 78 Tulane 53
No. 3 Houston vs. No. 6 UCF
Rob Gray is going to have a big game in this one. I can just feel it. I’m thinking he goes 11-for-18 from the floor and finishes with 32 points. Will that be enough to win? Yes. Yes it will because UCF has so much trouble scoring, it may not even reach 32 against a motivated Houston team. I’m only half joking about that last part.
The Pick: Houston 68 UCF 54
No. 1 Cincinnati vs. No. 4 Tulsa
Even when the Golden Hurricane played arguably its best game of the season, the Bearcats still overpowered them down the stretch, led by AAC Player of the Year Gary Clark. I find it hard to believe that things will change here.
The Pick: Cincinnati 75 Tulsa 65
No. 2 Wichita State vs. No. 3 Houston
In a battle of the only AAC teams to beat UC this year, Wichita State is clearly the favorite. Houston has some strong players and clearly are headed to the NCAA Tournament, but just not by winning the AAC title.
The Pick: Wichita State 79 Houston 70
No. 1 Cincinnati vs. No. 2 Wichita State
As if it could be any other matchup. The Bearcats narrowly edged the Shockers at home this past Sunday and the Shockers did the same to them a few weeks earlier. This really is a toss up. But you’re not here for that. You’re here for a pick. If the Bearcats can once again be careful with the ball and assert their will on defense, they’ll be champions for the second weekend in a row.
The Pick: Cincinnati 71 Wichita State 70.9