American Athletic Conference Tournament Preview

American Athletic Conference Tournament Preview

The Cincinnati Bearcats have won the American Athletic Conference Tournament each of the last two seasons, but Kelvin Sampson’s Houston Cougars are the choice of the linemakers to cut the nets down in Dickies Arena this time around. Should that turn out to be the case, it would be the first AAC tourney win for the Cougars in program history. The truth of the matter is that this is one of the more wide open conference tournaments set to play out over the next week with all but a few teams capable of making a run. The advantage does however go to top-seed Cincinnati as well as Houston, Tulsa and Wichita State with that quadrant advancing to the quarterfinals due to earning the first round bye. From there it’s a total crapshoot with tough opponents lined up in every section of the bracket. But once you separate the wheat from the chaff, there are contenders and pretenders. It’s my job to weed them out, so let’s breakdown the current offerings at online sportsbooks and see which teams offer up some value on the betting lines.

The American Athletic Conference Tournament is set to tip-off on Thursday, March 12, 2020 at 1 p.m. ET from the Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, TX. The games will be broadcast live on ESPNU, ESPN2 and ESPN.

CBB Betting Odds at


Houston +200
Cincinnati +275
Wichita State +400
Memphis +450
Tulsa +600
UConn +1000
SMU +2500
South Florida +5000
Temple +5000
UCF +5000
East Carolina +10000
Tulane +10000

Favorite to Bet: Houston Cougars +200

Regardless of Houston alternating wins and losses over its last six games to cost itself the outright AAC regular season title, I still have the Cougars pegged as the best team in the AAC. While the offense leaves a bit to be desired with it ranked No. 135 in scoring and No. 259 in field goal percentage, its size and lankiness makes up for it. As does a better than average output from the free throw line (No. 108). Where Houston does shine however is at the other end of the court where it ranks No. 12 in scoring defense and No. 7 in field goal percentage allowed. The Pomeroy Ratings has the defense clocking in at No. 21 in efficiency. The odds on favorite to cut the nets down on Sunday, Houston’s 33.3 percent implied probability is the best of the 12 teams entered in this tournament. That’s more or less on par with’s near 35 percent win rate. Bottom line, Houston was the most consistent team in the league over the course of the regular season. While it might not be the hottest entering tournament play, I can’t help but think Caleb Mills and the remainder of the Cougars fantastic guards are locked and loaded to see this one through to the bitter end.

Underdog to Bet: Memphis Tigers +450

What a crazy roller coaster of a ride it’s been for Anfrenee Hardaway and the Tigers. Even after all the James Wiseman drama subsided, Memphis proved to be one of the better teams in the AAC as well as the country. It ended up finishing fifth in the regular season standings to just miss out on earning a bye in the AAC tourney. Even so, I like the Tigers shot of advancing to the semis where it will likely meet up with tournament favorite Houston. The Tigers already know not to take ECU for granted after escaping with a 77-73 win and non-cover as lofty 13.5-point home favorites in the lone regular season meeting. Come out on top there, and it’s a huge grudge match with the Tulsa Golden Hurricane who skunked them by 40 points as short 3-point home favorites in the team’s lone dustup. The defeat has no doubt stuck in the craw of the Tigers, so it should have Precious Achiuwa and his mates chomping at the bit to earn some redemption. The Tigers 18.2 percent implied probability comes up a bit short of my own calculations. With that, I have no problem taking a shot with the team that sports the best scoring defense in the country that’s ranked No. 5 in efficiency. The only issue is consistent offense, but it’s worth a shot at this offering.

Longshot to Bet: UConn Huskies +1000

No team closed the regular season out hotter in the AAC than that of Danny Hurley’s Huskies. Had Connecticut not suffered a gross overtime loss at Temple a game removed from evening the score with Memphis, it would enter the American Athletic Conference Tournament winners of seven straight games. UConn swept the season rivalry from Tulane and closed the regular season out at the Green Wave, so Christian Vital and his mates are firmly aware of what it will take to punch their ticket to the next round. From there, the Huskies will get a chance to avenge an overtime defeat to Wichita State after the Shockers went into the XL Center and scored the 89-86 overtime win in early January. That was well before the Huskies started finding themselves, and I give them an excellent shot of avenging that defeat. From there, it would be a likely third go round with the Cincinnati Bearcats whom they split against in the regular season. I give the Huskies much better than the less than 10 percent shot their implied probability suggests at the current +1000 offering. This is a team currently playing its best and most confident basketball of the season. With that, I suggest throwing more than just beer money on the Huskies to win the AAC Tournament – they could help with a mortgage payment or two dependent upon how much risk you can take on!

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