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A wide open race to the finish! - Between Classes Magazine
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A wide open race to the finish!

With all due respect to the rest of the AAC, myself and I’m sure plenty more basketball heads like me, are deeply saddened to have to see SMU end their season with absolutely zero chance at being able to see just how good they could be against some of the best schools in the country due to a post season ban issued down by the NCAA this season. It also means that we’ll also miss getting to see legendary head coach Larry Brown coach this team on the biggest of stages. However, as they say in France, c’est la vie.

SMU was one win away from sharing the regular season title with Temple, essentially earning two consecutive conference titles, going into Sundays match against Cincinnati. Things didn’t go as planned and now SMU will move on to next year with a top 25 ranking this season and little else but that to show for their effort. Temple, Cincinnati and the rest of the AAC will move on, to the conference tournament in sunny Orlando, FL. The brackets are set, as is the schedule and starting this Thursday, the real excitement begins. Even with Temple winning the regular season title and grabbing the number one seed for the conference tournament, doesn’t make them safe just yet. With some bad losses during the regular season I’m betting they’re going to need to get to at least the conference title game to make sure it’s a happy selection Sunday for them.

UCONN had a decent regular season going 5-3 against top 50 teams this season. More often than not that may get them in but with recent losses to both Houston and SMU, UCONN will more than likely need strong conference tournament run to make it in. Cincinnati got a huge boost to their NCAA tournament hopes after winning this Sunday against SMU but even that may not even be enough after going a combined 2-7 against top 50 teams this year. It may well still take a conference title for Cincinnati to make it in, however the win against SMU is a healthy shot in the arm.

Tulsa was a team that looked like they were ready to really grab hold of some momentum and make a big push for an at large bid to the NCAA tournament after winning against Temple, then they went ahead and lost to an unimpressive Memphis team and took the proverbial wind out of their own sails. As is the case with most teams in this conference, a run to the conference title game seems to be the fix-it-all remedy for this group as well. Only way for Tulsa to guarantee themselves a spot is to win that coveted automatic bid. Houston seems to be in the same boat as the rest of the upper tier teams of this conference. One or two of these teams may get in with an at large bid but I can’t see any more than that getting in without a conference title.

Of all the conference tournaments going on this week, the AAC seems to promise to be one of the most intriguing in terms of who’ll make it in and who won’t. As for the rest of the teams in the AAC, with a combined record of 58-95 between the five of them and unlikely to receive an NIT invite, it’s conference title or bust. As far as a prediction on who takes home the AAC title, my picks up in the air…kind of like the NCAA tournament chances of every team in this conference without an automatic bid.

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