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AAC Basketball Conference Preview and Predictions

As we enter into the middle of December, the holiday season is right around the corner. Along with that is AAC basketball conference play. Now that we’ve seen a little bit of what each team has to offer, we have a little better idea of how may come out on top.

The AAC was one of the biggest non-power conferences coming into the 2021-22 season. While inconsistency from Memphis has led to only one AAC basketball team being ranked, that doesn’t mean the AAC won’t be must-watch basketball every night.

Heading into the thick of college basketball conference play, this article will give a prediction for how the rest of the AAC basketball season will play out.

AAC Basketball Standings Predictions

  1. Houston Cougars
  2. Memphis Tigers
  3. Cincinnati Bearcats
  4. Wichita State Shockers
  5. SMU Mustangs
  6. UCF Knights
  7. Tulsa Golden Hurricanes
  8. East Carolina Pirates
  9. USF Bulls
  10. Temple Owls
  11. Tulane Green Wave
marcus sasser houston aac college basketball
Credit: F. Carter Smith/PaperCity Magazine

AAC Basketball Preview | The Favorites

These are the bullies of the conference. Talent-wise, they are the cream of the crop, and they’ve already flexed their muscles this year. While they may not have had the best performances coming into conference play, everybody in the conference has circled their calendar for when these guys come to town.

Houston Cougars

Although they lost a lot of talent after making the Final Four last year, this team is still loaded. Junior guard Marcus Sasser has taken over the lead role for the Cougars. Kyler Edwards has turned into a solid Robin to Sasser’s Batman. While they haven’t beaten a ranked team, they have lost close at Alabama and have beaten the brakes off of teams like Virginia, Butler and Oregon.

Memphis Tigers

Memphis is the most talented team in the AAC. The only question is whether they can play together as a team and make it work. While they destroyed Alabama at home, they also lost to the likes of Murray State and Virginia Tech. Their season will likely come down to how quickly guys like Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren mature.

aac college basketball wichita state
Credit: Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle

AAC Basketball Preview | The Middle

This is home to the teams that are just short of being true contenders this season. It could be a young team, inconsistent play, or questionable non-conference performances. These are the teams that are just one or two key pieces away from being trouble for anyone in the conference.

Cincinnati Bearcats

Physically, there are few teams as imposing as Cincinnati. Not only do they have two bigs 6’11” or taller, but they also only have four players under 6’3″. This team relies on Jeremiah Davenport and David DeJulius to get out of the gates quickly early during games. Unfortunately, if those two aren’t shooting well, the Bearcats are often playing from behind early and haven’t shown the ability to handle deficits of more than three possessions consistently.

Wichita State Shockers

Tyson Etienne is a stud. His name should be up there with Marcus Sasser and Jeremiah Davenport in terms of the top players in AAC basketball. Unfortunately, the team seems to ride on his success. With his poor shooting to this point, the Shockers will need that to improve to have any staying power. Wichita State has no seniors on the team though so this team is more of a contender for next year than this year.

SMU Mustangs

Kendric Davis has been the best AAC basketball player in non-conference play this season. The senior is averaging over 20 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. SMU had arguably the best recruiting class in the conference, outside of Memphis, and just need to find consistent play around Davis. While they started slow, at 3-3, they have won five straight and may just be starting to hit their stride.

Credit: University of Tulsa Athletics

AAC Basketball Preview | The Longshots

It is possible that a team here could win the AAC. Unfortunately, it would take one heck of a renaissance from them to make noise, especially against the big boys of the conference.

UCF Knights

UCF actually already played a conference game, in a very early matchup against Temple which they won, 65-48. Darin Green Jr. and Darius Perry are a dangerous one-two punch at the guard positions and can lead this team to great things. Unfortunately for the Knights, four of their top five scorers are guards. UCF has struggled with consistency from their bigs, which they will need when they play physical AAC basketball.

Tulsa Golden Hurricanes

Tulsa has struggled with consistency just like virtually every other team in the AAC. Their advantage, however, is they are led by one of the best one-two combos in the conference. Jeriah Horne and Sam Griffin have combined for over 33 points per game and are the reason for most of their success to this point. The only question is if anybody else can step up on this team.

East Carolina Pirates

Sophomore guard Tristen Newton may be one of the most overlooked scorers in the league. This team just simply lacks the staying power outside of him to hang with the big boys. With that in mind, They can beat anybody on any given night. If they want to play with the powerhouses in the conference, however, they’ll need their seven-foot junior center Ludgy Debaut to stand up to a tough test, which he hasn’t been able to do yet.

javon greene usf aac south florida college basketball
Credit: Mary Holt/South Florida Athletics

AAC Basketball Preview | The Bottom of the Barrel

Realistically, only a minor miracle could see these teams contend, much less win the AAC.

USF Bulls

The Bulls have already lost to Georgia Southern and South Carolina State. Senior guard Javon Greene has shown some promise but is inconsistent at best. Only Caleb Murphy averages in double-digits in points, and that just won’t cut it. While the Bulls can ride on the coattails of their defense against bad opponents, you need to be able to score to have any chance in the AAC.

Temple Owls

To say the Temple Owls are a work in progress is an understatement. Out of the 15 players on their roster, they have just one senior in Colin Daly who has only played for two minutes this entire season. Out of the remaining 14 players, eight are freshmen and three are sophomores. This team has a lot of growing to do on and off the court and lack any ability to contend until then. This is basically year one of a rebuild.

Tulane Green Wave

Just like Temple, Tulane is a project. Although they have three seniors, only two have played. One of them only played a single game, while the other averages just over 12 minutes. Outside of their two playing seniors, they have six freshmen and six sophomores. While they can score in bunches, to say their defense is subpar is an understatement. You may be able to eke out some wins without an offense, but without a defense, it’ll be tough sledding for the Green Wave.

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