Opening AAC Tournament Odds Favor Houston at +200

Houston's Caleb Mills dribbling
Caleb Mills and the Houston Cougars are tepid +200 favorites to win what should be a highly competitive AAC Tournament. Photo by @Joseph_Duarte (Twitter).
  • The AAC Tournament will be held from March 12-15 at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas
  • Houston opened as the slight favorite after tying Cincinnati and Tulsa for the regular-season title
  • See the full field odds and the best bet to earn the automatic NCAA Tournament bid below

The 2020 AAC Tournament looks to be a wide-open affair.

Houston is the favorite after tying top-seeded Cincinnati and Tulsa for the regular-season title. However, four teams opened with odds of +450 or shorter: Houston, Cincinnati, Wichita State, and Memphis.

The tournament begins Thursday (March 12) at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, with four first-round games.

Odds to Win 2020 AAC Tournament

Team Odds at BetOnline
Houston +200
Cincinnati +275
Wichita State +400
Memphis +450
Tulsa +600
UConn +1400
SMU +2500
South Florida +5000
Temple +5000
UCF +5000
East Carolina +10000
Tulane +10000

Odds taken March 9, 2020.

The opening round features the following matchups #5 UConn (19-12) vs #12 Tulane (12-18), #6 Memphis (21-10) vs #11 East Carolina (11-20), #7 SMU (19-11) vs #11 Temple (14-17), #8 UCF (16-14) vs #9 South Florida (14-17).

In the quarterfinals on Friday (March 13), it will be #1 Cincinnati (20-10) vs the UCF-South Florida winner, #2Houston (23-8) against the SMU-Temple winner, #3 Tulsa (21-10) facing the Memphis-East Carolina winner, and #4 Wichita State (23-8) meeting the UConn-Tulane winner.

AAC Tournament bracket (2020)
AAC Tournament bracket (2020)

The semifinals will be played Saturday (March 14) and the final on Sunday (March 15).

Tiebreaker Favors Cincinnati

Cincinnati won three of its last four regular-season games and is led by senior guard Jarron Cumberland, who is averaging 15.5 points and 4.9 assists a game.

Cumberland’s backcourt mate Keith Williams is scoring 12.6 per game. Senior forward Tre Scott is averaging a double-double with 11.4 points and 10.5 rebounds.

Houston Has Efficient Offense

Houston has split its last six games but finished the regular season on a good note with a 64-57 victory over visiting Memphis on Sunday (March 8).

The Cougars led the AAC in adjusted offensive efficiency, scoring 112.8 points per 100 possessions, a mark that ranks 22nd in the nation.

Houston doesn’t have a go-to player on offense, though. Freshman guard Caleb Mills is averaging a team-leading 13.2 points per game and sophomore guard Quentin Grimes is at 12.1 PPG.

Houston is also the conference’s only ranked team as it is No. 22 in the latest Associated Press poll.

The Other Bye Teams

Despite sharing the regular-season AAC title, the oddsmakers don’t particularly like Tulsa’s chances. The Golden Hurricane finished the regular season with a clunker, a 79-57 loss at Wichita State, after winning four games in a row.

Senior forward Martins Igbanu is scoring 13.0 points and pulling down 5.0 rebounds a game. Junior guard Brandon Rachal averages 12.1 points and 5.8 rebounds.

Including its rout of Tulsa, Wichita State has won three of its last four games as it heads to Fort Worth.

Senior center Jaime Echenique is a force inside for the Shockers as he is averaging 11.3 points and 7.6 rebounds a game. Sophomore guard Erik Stevenson has an 11.1 scoring average.

Achiuwa leads Memphis

Memphis was the preseason favorite to win the AAC after coach Penny Hardaway brought in the top recruiting class in the nation. However, the Tigers suffered a major blow when freshman center James Wiseman played in just three games before being suspended by the NCAA for receiving impermissible benefits, and then left school before his suspension even finished.

Freshman forward Precious Achiuwa has been outstanding in Wiseman’s absence, though, scoring 15.8 points and grabbing 10.8 rebounds per game. He is almost certainly a one-and-down.

Two other frosh, forward D.J. Jeffries (10.8) and guard Lester Quinones (10.7), also have double-digit scoring averages and could be short timers at Memphis.

The Tigers lead the conference with an 89.1 adjusted defensive efficiency, which is fifth in the country.

Here Comes UConn

UConn has missed the last three NCAA Tournament, which seems like an eternity for a program that won three national championships in a 15-year span from 1999-2014.

However, the Huskies have come on strong with five straight victories to end the regular season. Coach Dan Hurley’s team might just be a handful in this tournament.

Senior guard Christian Vital is one of the AAC’s top players, averaging 16.4 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.5 steals a game. Guard James Bouknight has had a fine freshman season and carries a 13.0 scoring average.

This tournament is very intriguing and looks like it will be a lot of fun with plenty of close games. Trying to pick a winner kind of feels like a dart throw.

Houston, despite some late-season struggles, is slightly better than the rest of the field with its efficient offense and strong work on the boards.

The pick: Houston (+200)

SBD’s NCAA conference tournament coverage: 

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