2018 College Basketball – American Athletic Conference Preview
Looking for 2018 AAC NCAA Basketball Futures Odds and some great betting lines to get down on? The regular season begins this week and we’re breaking down the major power conferences to get you ready.
Handicapping 2018 AAC Conference College Basketball Futures Odds
The Two Top Dogs: Wichita State, Cincinnati
In my National Championship preview, I noted that Wichita State has the best chance of winning it all, according to ESPN’s BPI. They are trending around 20-1 as a mid-range favorite in the preseason.
The Shockers are newcomers in the American Athletic after years of dominance in the Missouri Valley under Gregg Marshall. They were only a 10-seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament because of a slow start and, even so, they were underseeded. The Shockers won easily in the Round of 64 and lost a tight game with Kentucky over the weekend.
All five starters return from that team but there are some health concerns. Landry Shamet had foot surgery in July and while he isn’t expected to miss any time, it’s still worth noting. Markis McDuffie broke his foot and will be out until at least December. Those are the Shockers’ top two scorers.
But this is a team led by those two juniors and another five seniors. Five or six of those top-seven could average double-digit points per game and the defense is always stanch. WSU is the conference favorite in its first season as a member.
Cincinnati is a very close second, though. The Bearcats return four of five starters from a team that won 30 games a season ago and made it to the Round of 32 in the NCAAs. They also added Cane Broome, a transfer point guard, who averaged 23 points per game for Sacred Heart last season. He won’t put up those type of scoring numbers but there is no doubt this guy can play. Cincinnati is flying under the radar coming into this season.
Winning With Defense: Central Florida
The Knights are expected to be one of the best defensive units in the country this season. It’s mostly because they have a 7’6″ giant in the middle to defend the basket, Tacko Fall. He is projected to average a double-double in his junior season.
UCF also boasts BJ Taylor, a volume scorer who has the ball in his hands often. Taylor can put up big numbers but efficiency vs. volume is a consideration for him. This team is still young, with only one senior in the short rotation, but has more experience than last season with a bevy of sophomores and juniors. If he can get his teammates involved, it could benefit everybody involved.
Better Than Average: Houston, UConn, Temple, SMU
Rob Gray is one of the top scorers in the country and is projected to fill it up to the tune of 20+ points a game for the Coogs this season. He might be the only guy in double-figures for Houston, though.
Junior point guard Jalen Adams is the key to UConn’s future success. The Huskies have two big scorers, Terry Larrier and Alterique Gilbert back from injury. If Adams is facilitating as well as scoring, UConn is the team that could make a big jump from a team that hovers around .500 to one that challenges WSU and Cincy.
Temple has one of the best players in the conference in Obi Enechionyia. He will contend for the All-Conference First Team in his senior season.
SMU lost three of its four biggest scorers from last year’s 30-win team, including Semi Ojeleye who is currently playing for the Boston Celtics’ second unit. But two transfers should make up for some of those losses, along with Shake Milton who should average around 15 a game.
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