Wednesday, March 11, 2015

American Athletic conference tournament preview

This is part 28 of a 33-part series in this blog, designed to give you all the information you need to know about each conference's tournament, and the postseason prospects of every single team in the conference.

Final standings:
SMU 15-3
Tulsa 14-4
Cincinnati 13-5
Temple 13-5
Memphis 10-8
UConn 10-8
Tulane 6-12
East Carolina 6-12
Central Florida 6-12
Houston 4-14
South Florida 3-15

Conference tournament format:  All 11 are in Hartford, where this shindig is hosted by UConn.  Standard bracket, tourney from Thursday March 12 to Sunday March 15.

1) SMU vs. 8/9) East Carolina/Central Florida
4) Temple vs. 5) Memphis
2) Tulsa vs. 7/10) Tulane/Houston
3) Cincinnati vs. 6) UConn/South Florida

The stakes:
SMU and Cincy are just playing for seeding here.  SMU has the same effect on it that Arkansas has that I described earlier:  lots of good teams are surrounding them on the S-Curve, and they all have more signature win chances this week than SMU.  SMU's seed is going to be more about what the other teams do, than what SMU actually does.  Cincy could easily fall back a seed line or two towards the 9 line; 7 represents their ceiling.

So, Tulsa.  They've obviously got to manage the first game, but then it's Cincy.  Do they need it to make the field?  I'm leaning towards yes.  A loss and they're probably one of the final 2 or 3 swing teams on bubble Sunday.  If they beat Cincy....remember this final is on a Sunday.  Will this be a contingency situation?  Will the committee get lazy and then put them in win or lose?  I think they might make it on merit in either case, but I think getting to Sunday is good enough for Tulsa.  One caveat:  if UConn beats Cincy, all bets are off as Tulsa's signature win chance comes off the board.

On the other side, I'm becoming more and more convinced Temple does need to beat SMU and make it to Sunday in this tournament.  You have to put the raw RPI aside and see there's somee spots of bother in this resume.  A Memphis win would move the needle a little...a SMU win will move it enough

Memphis and UConn are NIT teams, and I don't think either are in particular danger of missing that tournament.  The one other potential CBI/CIT team is .500 Tulane, but I don't know why anyone would want them.

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