Story by Yousaf Khan
The Amway Center in Orlando, FL, (home of the NBA’s Orlando Magic), will be the site of the American Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament from March 8-11. Teams seeded 5-12 will play on Thursday March 8th with winners facing the top 4 seeds on Friday, the semifinals on Saturday and it all culminating with the championship game on Sunday at 3:30.
The favorite going on would have to be #8 in the nation Cincinnati Bearcats, fresh off a win over Wichita State (62-61) that clinched the regular season AAC Championship. The Bearcats, with a record of 27-4, are led by their stingy defense, ranked 2nd in the nation allowing only 57.3 points per game. Cincy has 4 players average double figures in points, with Jacob Evans leading the way at 13.5.
Nipping right at their heels and another favorite to win it all is the Wichita State Shockers, ranked #11, and coming in with a record of 24-6. The Shockers have a pair of explosive scores in Landry Shamet and Shaquille Morris both averaging over 14 points per game.
The Houston Cougars, ranked #21 and with a record of 24-6, should make some noise as well. They split the series with both the Shockers and Bearcats at 1-1 and are very capable of winning it all. Conference player of the year candidate and all-around stud Rob Gray led the Cougars in assists in points at 18.1 ppg.
Locally, the hometown and 6th seeded UCF Knights, with a record of 18-12, hope to pull out a few victories together and draw some momentum from the local fans. The Knights will face 11th seeded East Carolina at 9PM on Thursday night. The last place, 12th seeded USF Bulls have a favorable matchup vs 5th seeded Memphis at 2PM on Thursday, a team they just beat by 24 on March 1st. Any wins at this point would be welcome for the Bulls after suffering through a dreadful 10-21 season under first year coach Brian Gregory.
“Da Guru” will take Cincy and Wichita State to meet in the finals with Cincy taking it all.
Tickets and more information for the tournament can be found at