American Athletic Conference Tournament Preview: Likely three-team race for title
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Here is a look at the 2018 American Athletic Conference Tournament:
WHEN/WHERE: March 8-March 11 at at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla.
Thursday, March 8 (First round)
- Game 1: No. 9 SMU (6-12) vs. No. 8 UConn (7-11), Noon (ESPNU)
- Game 2: No. 12 USF (3-15) vs. No. 5 Memphis (10-8), 2:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
- Game 3: No. 10 Tulane (5-13) vs. No. 7 Temple (8-10), 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
- Game 4: No. 11 East Carolina (4-14) vs. No. 6 UCF (9-9), 9:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Friday, March 9 (Quarterfinals)
- Game 5: No. 1 Cincinnati (16-2) vs. Game 1 winner, Noon (ESPN2)
- Game 6: No. 4 Tulsa (12-6) vs. Game 2 winner, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
- Game 7: No. 2 Wichita State (14-4) vs. Game 3 winner, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
- Game 8: No. 3 Houston (14-4) vs. Game 4 winner, 9:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Saturday, March 10 (Semifinals)
- Game 9: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 1 p.m. (CBS, Local12)
- Game 10: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 3:30 p.m. (CBS, Local12)
Sunday, March 11 (Semifinals)
- Game 11: Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner, 3:30 p.m. (CBS, Local12)
NCAA TOURNAMENT LOCKS: UC, Wichita State, Houston. According to BracketMatrix.com, UC is currently a No. 2 seed and a march to the championship game may ensure that, and at the worst the Bearcats will be a No. 3 seed. Wichita State is currently a No. 4 seed and Houston is a No. 6 seed.
ON NCAA BUBBLE: None.
TEAM TO BEAT: UC. The Bearcats went 16-2 against league foes with the lone losses coming at Houston and to Wichita State, and the Bearcats also beat both - Houston at home and at Wichita State. The big part is they would only have to play one of the two, and it would be in the championship game.
DARK HORSE: Temple. The Owls went just 8-10 against league opponents, but beat Wichita State and lost close games against UC (55-53) and at Houston (76-73), although both UC and Houston blew them out in second meetings, and Wichita State won the second meeting with the Owls at home, 93-86.
UC'S ROAD TO THE TITLE: The Bearcats belted both possible quarterfinal opponents - SMU or UConn - twice each, and also beat the toughest potential semifinal opponent - Tulsa - although it was a battle, 82-74. That would leave a title game matchup likely against either Wichita State or Houston, and UC split against both.
PREDICTED OUTCOME: UC showed its mettle by winning at Wichita State this past Sunday to claim the regular-season league title outright and with a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament on the line the Bearcats will capture the tournament title as well.