The AAC has had a fair share of postponements this season — which Conference hasn’t, though? — but that hasn’t stopped teams from showing their true colors throughout the shortened 2020-21 season. A few teams have stood out as potential contenders for both the ACC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament, and will single out the three programs that look better positioned to make a deep tournament run. We are talking about Wichita State, Houston, and Memphis.
The Shockers have only played 17 games — the third-lowest mark in the Conference behind Temple (15) and East Carolina (16) — but that has been more than enough to move into first place of the Conference with a 9-2 record. Their only two defeats in Conference play have come against Memphis and Houston, two of the other top teams in the AAC. The Shockers also own a 13-4 mark in the entire season, meaning they have looked dominant pretty much all season long. The play of Tyson Etienne, who averages 17.2 points per game, has been instrumental to the team’s success, but other names such as Alterique Gilbert (3.6 assists and 1.5 steals per game) and Trey Wade (5.6 boards per contest) have also played big roles in the team. The Shockers also found some sort of continuity with the signing of Isaac Brown to a five-year deal after he began the season as the program’s interim head coach. As we get closer to the Big Dance keep your eye on the expert picks coming in on the side of the Shockers. Although they may no longer be a mid major this team has a proven track record to shock in March.
The Cougars’ basketball program has been drawing comparisons to the Phi Slama Jama of the 1980s with their play during the current season, and while Wichita State might end in the first place of the Conference once it’s all said and done, Houston’s impressive season simply can’t be counted out. The Cougars are 13-3 in Conference Play and 20-3 overall, as they have been dominating teams left and right so far in the shortened 2020-21 CBB season. They’ve allowed just 57.3 points per game while ranking as the 11th-best rebounding team in the nation with 41.3 boards per matchup, so it’s clear they’ve been doing things the right way on the defensive end of the court. The play of Quentin Grimes has also been noticeable on offense, as he’s averaging 17.9 points per game. With a 20-3 record on the year the Cougars have been one of the most profitable money line picks on the year, can they continue that run into March?
The Tigers might not look as dominant as Wichita State or as effective as the Cougars, but there’s no reason to think they aren’t capable to make a deep run in the AAC Tournament as those other two programs. Memphis currently sits in third place of the AAC standings with a 10-3 record in Conference play while sporting a 14-6 mark in the entire season — only Houston has played more games in the entire AAC Conference than Memphis. One area where the Tigers stand out is in their distribution totals, as they rank as the 33rd best team in the nation in terms of assists per game (16.4). However, they only score slightly above 76.0 points per game and are allowing 62.6 points per contest as well, so it’s clear they still have a few things to iron out — particularly on defense. When noticing their standout players, Landers Nolley II is averaging 13.4 points per game while Alex Lomax (4.4 assists, 1.9 steals per game) and Moussa Cisse (7.1 rebounds, 2.0 blocks per tilt) have also performed at a very high level.
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