State of the AAC College Basketball Betting Report: 2 Bubble Teams & Early Conference Tournament Odds
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images. Pictured: Penny Hardaway (Memphis)
We’re down to about half a dozen games remaining on the schedule for each team in the AAC. That leaves little room for most programs in the conference to improve their resumes for potential at-large bids.
Houston and Memphis are both poised to extend their seasons into March. Houston ranks seventh in the country in efficiency rating, according to KenPom. Meanwhile, Memphis has caught fire at just the right time, as it is slated as one of the last four teams in the tournament.
SMU went through a rollercoaster last week that started with handing Houston its first conference loss of the season. It followed that up with a disappointing loss on the road to Temple.
That’s left the program sitting in the First Four Out, according to Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology.
Houston strolled through the first three months of the season, as it only lost two games by a combined three points to Wisconsin and Alabama.
But Kelvin Sampson’s group started February suffering back-to-back losses for the first time since the 2017 season. The first loss came by two points to SMU before the Cougars were then bested by in-conference rival Memphis.
The defeat to Penny Hardaway’s Tigers was the first loss at Fertitta Center in 430 days.
Houston then needed double overtime to outlast Wichita State on Sunday.
There isn’t any cause for concern for a Houston program that has run the AAC for the past half a decade, though.
The program had the easiest strength of schedule during the first month of conference play. Now, the competition has stiffened, and we have seen the Cougars getting tested for the first time.
But they did leave the door slightly cracked for SMU to steal the regular-season title if things continue to turn south.
The recent struggles for Houston may leave blood in the water for other programs to best the Cougars in the conference tournament.
Memphis has caught fire the last month, and it still sits on the right side of the bubble, according to Joe Lunardi. An at-large bid will likely come down to how the program finishes in the final two weeks.
Memphis had won six games in a row before it suffered a road loss to SMU on Sunday. Among those six wins were victories over Houston and Cincinnati, which really boosted the Tigers’ resume.
But in the loss to SMU, Memphis unraveled in the second half. The group scored just three points in a 10-minute span, which is concerning to see this late in the season.
The big key to the recent turnaround has been the Tigers getting healthy. Jalen Duren and DeAndre Williams have been a dynamic duo when they are on the court together.
Memphis has four games remaining, including a rematch with Houston at home. If the Tigers can win the first three games, that should be enough to hear their name called on Selection Sunday — regardless of the outcome against Houston.
SMU is the first team on the bubble, according to Joe Lunardi’s most recent edition of Bracketology. The Mustangs have four games remaining, and a season sweep over Houston would surely be enough to earn a ticket.
Kendric Davis has been the best point guard in the conference all season. He exposed the Memphis defense for 27 points while hitting 6-for-11 from 3-point range. When he’s on the court, the Mustangs are live to beat anyone in the country.
Michael and Marcus Weathers have been terrific complimentary pieces to Davis. The sixth-year twins reunited this season for one final run after playing for different programs the last four campaigns. The duo is putting up 23 points and 13 rebounds a contest.
Over the last dozen games, the SMU offense has shot below 40% just three times. All three of those games came on the road, and were losses for the Mustangs.
They will need to fix their road woes in a hurry if they want to take down a Houston program that has lost just once in the last year and a half at home.
AAC Tournament Desperates
Outside of Houston, Memphis and SMU, the rest of the league is reliant on winning the AAC Tournament for any hope of extending their seasons to March.
Circa released odds to win each conference tournament over the weekend. Here are the current odds to win the AAC Tournament, specifically:
Outside of the big three, I am looking at Wichita State or Cincinnati to be the Cinderella story.
Wichita State opened conference play at 9-3, with victories over Oklahoma State and UNLV. It then proceeded to drop four of its first five AAC matchups.
But the Shockers may find their double-overtime loss to Houston as a source of inspiration. The group won the AAC Tournament last year, and knows it will need to do the same to keep its season alive this year.
Five of Wichita’s eight conference losses have come by five points or less.
Isaac Brown’s squad fought back from a 21-point deficit against Cincinnati last week, cutting the lead down to four in the second half. There is fight in this program, and at +1800, the Shockers are worth a flier to shock the conference.
Cincinnati owned a 14-5 record, but has struggled down the stretch, winning three of its last eight. This may be a good time to buy low on the Bearcats at the same +1800 odds as Wichita State.
Cincinnati has one of the most elite defenses in the conference, ranking ninth in the nation in 2-point defense. The Bearcats allow only 31% of their opponents’ shot attempts to come from deep, and force opponents into the strength of their defense.
Even though that defense has been exposed over the last week, the Bearcats have won some big games this season, including a 20-point victory over Illinois and a 17-point win over SMU.
With the top three teams in the conference proving to be susceptible recently, the Bearcats are worth a look. As the old saying goes, defense wins championships.
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