College Basketball Odds, Picks, Futures: 2022-23 AAC Betting Preview

College Basketball Odds, Picks, Futures: 2022-23 AAC Betting Preview article feature image

Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images. Pictured: Jamal Shead (Houston)

The American has always felt like an extension of the Conference USA and in a year, that sense will become even more tangible.

As part of the trickle-down effect of realignment, the American will undergo significant turnover in 2023. Houston, Cincinnati and UCF will all depart for the Big 12 and to backfill those absences, the American is scooping six — yes, six — programs out of the current C-USA.

The American will swell to 14 teams, 12 of which will have previously been members of the C-USA.

In the final year of the current membership, one team clearly stands above the rest: the Houston Cougars.

2022-23 AAC Regular Season Futures Odds

Odds (Via FanDuel)
Wichita State+4500
East Carolina+10000

The Clear Favorite

Under Kelvin Sampson’s masterful guidance, Houston has evolved into a powerhouse. Over the past five seasons, the Cougars are a staggering 143-30 (.826), including a Final Four appearance in 2021 (the school’s first since 1984).

The league dominance is just as impressive: Houston is 72-17 (.809) in the past half-decade and has captured three regular season titles and two AAC Tournament crowns.

Bettors may have also noticed that, per TeamRankings, Houston is the best against-the-spread team over that span. The Cougars are 102-63-3 (.618) — the only team in the country covering over 60% of their games.

Sure, Sampson’s squad loses four starters from an Elite Eight team, but that doesn't include Tramon Mark or Marcus Sasser, who is among the 10 or so leading candidates for National Player of the Year.

Both dynamic perimeter players suffered injuries around Christmas last year and missed the remainder of the season.

Add in bulldog point guard Jamal Shead, and Houston has arguably the best backcourt trio in the country. Plus, Sampson garnered a commitment from McDonald’s All-American and possible one-and-done forward Jarace Walker.

The talent level is tremendously high.

At this point, Houston is not just the obvious American favorite, the Cougars are also on the shortlist of national title contenders and are eyeing an opportunity to cut down the nets at “home” in April 2023 at nearby NRG Stadium.

If Not Houston, Then Who?

To be honest with you, the league champion will almost certainly be Houston.

However, several strong programs will make the Cougars earn it.

Memphis Tigers

Under Penny Hardaway, Memphis has been known for its tremendous recruiting — particularly big men: James Wiseman, Precious Achiuwa, Moussa Cisse, Jalen Duren.

This year’s team is built different.

Hardaway’s Tigers might be the oldest, most veteran-laden team in the country. The roster features five players using their fifth year of eligibility, three other redshirt seniors and three more “true” seniors.

Yes, that’s 11 upperclassmen!

Key forward DeAndre Williams will play the season at age 26.

It’s not just age, of course. This team is talented, with Williams and SMU transfer Kendric Davis leading the charge. Davis joins the fold after winning the league’s Player of the Year Award for the Mustangs last season. Hardaway is eager to unleash his new on-ball maestro.

ATS note: Over the past three seasons, Memphis is 13-4 against the number as an underdog. Hardaway has consistently gotten his talented teams to play up against top-shelf competition.

Cincinnati Bearcats

The other team priced like a fringe contender is Cincinnati.

The Bearcats are entering year two of the Wes Miller era, and his teams are known for their defensive tenacity.

The Bearcats struggled outside of elite rim protection last year, and Miller pointedly added more size on the perimeter, scooping up Landers Nolley II from Memphis.

The Bearcats have promise, but challenging Houston for the regular season championship would be a gargantuan task.

The Upstarts

Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Though he did not win the Coach of the Year Award in 2021-22 (that went to Sampson), Tulane’s Ron Hunter warrants a special mention. His Green Wave persevered through the impact of Hurricane Ida in the preseason and ultimately went 10-8 in league play.

That may not seem like much, but Tulane had not won 10+ league games since 1997.

With nearly the entire roster back — including dynamic guard Jalen Cook — Hunter and the Green Wave have bigger goals in mind in 2022-23.

Temple Owls

If forced to bet a non-Houston future in the American, I would take swing at Temple’s long-shot odds.

An extremely young Owls squad proved to be feisty last season and used a rangy perimeter crew to harass foes into a league-low 26.7% 3-point conversion rate in conference play.

With incendiary scorer Khalif Battle (hopefully) healthy, the offense should receive a major boost.

If coach Aaron McKie can harness the burgeoning talents of his roster, Temple could rise through the ranks.

Also priced in this range are UCF, SMU and Wichita State. All three are undergoing massive roster overhauls.

UCF returns just three scholarship players. SMU has a new coach and welcomes seven Division-I transfers after losing all five starters. The Shockers, meanwhile, return just two veterans while also adding seven D-I imports.

One could argue the range of outcomes for each team is extremely wide as a result.

While this may be true, none appear to have the firepower to bother Houston.

The Basement

We at The Action Network staunchly support responsible wagering. Thus, we must strongly advise against placing any of your hard-earned dollars on South Florida, Tulsa or East Carolina to win the league, even at eye-popping odds.

The Bulls are recovering from having one of the worst offenses in the entire country — at any level of the sport.

Tulsa and ECU are both starting rebuilding efforts after making head-coaching changes in the offseason.

AAC Futures & Picks

It’s not appetizing and it’s not sexy, but if you can stomach having your money sit around for four months, investing Houston to win the league should be a profitable endeavor.

Last year’s team won the league despite one of the most hyped Memphis squads in years. It also overcame injuries to Sasser and Mark.

Quite simply, Sampson is one of the truly elite coaches in the country. Under his watch, the Cougars will remain a paragon of consistent excellence.

And if you’ve checked the stock market recently, there are worse ways to invest your money.

If you must chase the appeal of a long shot, Temple is the most appealing wager.

Again, though: bet against Houston at your own risk.

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