Ryan Poutre, NCAAMReview Author
The upcoming 2017-2018 basketball season for the American Athletic Conference should be an exciting one. The conference is still top heavy but there are at least 5 teams that have a real shot at making the tourney. These are the five teams.
Locks: Wichita State, Cincinnati
Shockers: The addition of Wichita State makes the conference worth watching alone. The Shockers are returning key players Shaq Lawson and Landry Shamet and should be poised for a Final Four run. Wichita State is obviously the clear conference favorite and playing in a more challenging conference than the Missouri Valley should better prepare them for the NCAA Tournament. Let’s just hope they don’t get grossly mis-seeded again.
Bearcats: Along with Wichita State I expect the Cincinnati Bearcats to make it to the big dance but as a lower seed especially without the leadership of Troy Caupain. They will have to ride Jarron Cumberland and Sacred Heart transfer, Cane Broom, to make it to the tournament, but I expect a first or second round exit as always with the Mick Cronin coached Bearcats.
Bubble Teams: UConn, UCF, SMU
Huskies: The Connecticut Huskies will be a team to watch as they should be fighting for a bid this year. Last season was spoiled do to several injuries to key players but this season should be different. Terry Larrier and Alterique Gilbert will be good to go, and Jalen Adams returning makes the Huskies arguably the best backcourt in the American. If they have any chance of making the tournament, they’ll need to find frontcourt production following the losses of Amida Brimah and Steven Enoch. UConn fans can also look forward to watching their new transfer, Kwintin Williams, put on a dunking clinic.
Knights: The UCF Knights are another intriguing team as they have 7 foot 6 inch center Tacko Fall who not only has the best name in college basketball, but could have one of the biggest impacts. The Knights made some noise in the NIT last season and that experience should help them make it to the Big Dance.
Mustangs: The last team to watch out for is the SMU Mustangs. Sure they lost Sterling Brown and Semi Ojeleye but year in and year out they find ways to win games and I expect that trend to continue. Size may be a bit of an issue, but guards are plentiful for the Mustangs, and only time will tell.