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AAC Women’s Basketball Conference Preview

Cincinnati heads into league play in a stacked AAC

NCAA Womens Basketball: Ohio State at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bearcats women’s basketball team begins AAC league play on Sunday at noon at Fifth Third Arena against SMU. The game will also be featured on ESPN2.

As the 8-5 Bearcats prepare for their conference debut, let’s take a look at their competition in the AAC. IImar’i Thomas, Nikira Goings, and company have a tough road ahead in the American:

Connecticut (11-1): Despite tumbling the other night at Baylor, UConn is still UConn. All American seniors Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson are both contenders for National Player of the Year. Few players in the history of college basketball have displayed as much versatility as Collier and Samuelson during their careers at Connecticut. From top to bottom, UConn has the best roster in the nation and should dominate the AAC as well as the NCAA Tournament.

Tulsa (7-7): Tulsa may be the most improved team in the conference. Senior forward Crystal Polk is a force in the lowpost while Alexis Gaulden is a skilled scorer from perimeter. This club can compete with (almost) anyone in the conference on any given night.

UCF (11-2): Central Florida will be a factor in March. Junior guard Kay Kay Wright leads a defensive-minded, tough, and athletic club. The Knights can compete with UConn if they turn the game into a late 1980s Celtics-Pistons slobberknocker.

Tulane (10-3): Freshman guards Erin Gutierrez and Dynah Jones have been the early season newcomers of the year in the AAC. The backcourt tandem has added dynamism to a Tulane offense that slogged along last winter. The Green Wave will emerge as legitimate contenders for an NCAA Tournament bid if this pair can continue to pile up the points in league play.

ECU (9-4): Despite their youth, the Pirates are on the upswing this winter thanks to the leadership of veterans Necole Hope and Raven Johnson.

USF (9-5): The Bulls have showed some growing pains as they have played a schedule worthy of a national power. This USF team is once again fantastic and internationally flavored. Freshman forward Enna Pehadzic is the team’s leading scorer in the early going.

Wichita State (7-7) has been up and down in the early going. Freshman forward Jaida Hampton, who is averaging nearly a double-double each game, has been the Shockers’ biggest bright spot.

Houston (6-7): Ronald Hughey’s club looks to bounce back from a rough non-conference slate. The Cougars have a highly talented roster that includes junior guard Jasmyne Harris, who will be a legitimate contender for conference player of the year. She is one of the quickest, most athletic guards in college basketball.

SMU (6-7): Senior forward Alicia Froling, who just recorded her 43rd career double-double, will be the anchor of a young, rebuilding Mustangs team.

Memphis (5-8) and Temple (4-8) are both in full rebuild mode and look to gain experience for their young clubs during the 2019 AAC season.