College Basketball Betting: American Athletic Conference Tournament Preview
Fort Worth is the backdrop for the 2020 American Athletic Conference Tournament. Under former head coach Mike Cronin, Cincinnati took home the last two titles. This year’s AAC tournament has arguably more at stake than any other conference. The Houston Cougars appear to be the only team that has solidified a Field of 68 berth. Joe Lunardi currently has the Bearcats in as a 12th seed but a bad loss to either South Florida or Central Florida could have them on the outside looking in. The best case scenario for the league would be a semifinal of Cincinnati and Wichita State on one side with Houston playing the winner of Tulsa vs. Memphis game.
Favorite – Head coach Kelvin Sampson has developed a winning culture with the Houston Cougars headed to their fourth straight NCAA Tournament. Despite being the no. 2 seed due to a tiebreaker, they are favored to win the conference tournament championship for the first time under Sampson at roughly 2-1 odds. The Cougars boast one of the most physical teams in the nation which has translated into the best defense in the conference. Deep and balanced would be a perfect description for a team that plays a 10-man rotation between 9-30 mpg and has six players averaging between 8-13 ppg. Simply put, you can’t stop Houston by shutting one player down. They defend, block shots, and rebound as well as anyone in the country. Their biggest weakness is fouling too much, but that is a product of an aggressive style of play. KenPom ranks them 324th in defensive FTA/FGA.
Darkhorse – The Connecticut Huskies ended the season on a five-game win streak against mostly the bottom of the conference. This should provide some confidence for a team that has been fighting injuries the entire season. UConn has nothing to lose in the tournament. If they don’t win it they will most likely be headed to the NIT. If they can get past a dangerous first round game against Tulane, they will face a Wichita State team with tons of pressure that comes from sitting on the bubble.
What to Bet – In a conference that plays well below the national average for totals, I am looking to continue the trend of finding spots to play first half unders. There are a handful of teams that already take a conservative approach on offense and the magnitude of each mistake is likely to exacerbate the restrained pace. Teams tend to bog down when the stakes are higher and that should be the norm in this tournament. Again, I will caution against full game unders as teams tend to foul sooner and continue fouling longer when they see the possible end of their season.
Odds to Win Tournament
Wichita State +400
East Carolina +22500
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