Among the many beautiful things about March Madness is the notion that any team can make it. Every conference gets one automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament. Most automatic bids are awarded to the winner of each respective conference tournament. Each article will preview a different conference tournament with a full bracket breakdown.
9 Temple def. 8 South Florida
7 Tulsa def. 10 Tulane
6 Central Florida def. 11 East Carolina
1 Wichita State def. 9 Temple
5 Cincinnati def. 4 SMU
2 Houston def. 7 Tulsa
3 Memphis def. 6 Central Florida
1 Wichita State def. 5 Cincinnati
2 Houston def. 3 Memphis
2 Houston def. 1 Wichita State
The Houston Cougars are for real. In addition to non-conference wins against Boise State and Texas Tech, Houston leads the American Conference in a number of categories. In conference play, the Cougars average the most points per game and allow the fewest. They also have average the most three-pointers and offensive rebounds per game while committing the fewest turnovers. Junior guard Quentin Grimes was named AAC Co-Player of the Year after averaging 18 points and 6 rebounds per game. Each of Houston’s three conference losses was by single digits and now they’re on a four-game winning streak. After losing to Cincinnati in the conference finals in 2018 and 2019, Houston’s first title could earn them a two seed in the Big Dance.
The Bearcats have made the conference finals in each of the past three tournaments. Their 2020 campaign started off okay with close losses to Xavier and Tennessee but quickly soured after starting 0-3 in conference. Most of their January got postponed but since coming back in February, Cincinnati is 8-2 in conference with losses to Houston and Memphis. The main sleeper element is the path to the finals. Cincinnati only needs to win two games, neither of which could be Houston or Memphis, to make another finals appearance.
Matchup to Watch
Houston vs Memphis
Wichita State earning the top seed hurt both of these teams forcing them to meet in a potential semifinal match, rather than a title game. The Tigers are probably itching for a rematch more than the Cougars after how the regular season finale ended. Houston won on a buzzer beating half court heave 67-64 keeping Memphis on the bubble. Both teams boast elite defense pacing the AAC in points per game, field goal percentage, and three-point percentage allowed. The Tigers feel like the best chance for Houston to get upset making this the most interesting game.
Featured Image courtesy of gobearcats.com
“From Our Haus to Yours“