The 2018-19 preseason outlook, nevertheless, appears just a little extra bleak. All three of these contenders misplaced important items from their affluent seasons. The highest of the convention appears extra open, which is nice information for groups like Memphis and UCF, who do return some key gamers.
Much less obvious star energy makes it much less doubtless the convention will garner the identical consideration on a nationwide stage as it did final season, however the AAC nonetheless possesses a handful of groups that might make noise late into March. The Bearcats are even in Sporting Information’ preseason high 25, at No. 23.
Sporting Information previews the AAC 2018-19 season with predictions, a sleeper staff, an X-factor, participant of the yr hopefuls, a coach with essentially the most to show and the largest common season video games.
6. Wichita State
11. East Carolina
12. South Florida
AAC Champion: Cincinnati
The Bearcats are a far cry from the staff that they had been final season, once they gained the common season and AAC match championship behind convention participant of the yr Gary Clark. With Clark, in addition to Jacob Evans and Kyle Washington, out of the image, Mick Cronin should rebuild the core of his staff. Guards Jarron Cumberland, Cane Broome, and Justin Jenifer are all again, as are reserves Keith Williams, Trevor Moore, and Tre Scott. This might not be the identical Bearcats staff that completed No. 6 within the remaining AP Ballot final season, but it surely’s a bunch that’s nonetheless gifted and well-coached, making it able to a second-straight convention championship.
AAC X-Issue: Wichita State’s freshmen
It’s a rebuilding yr for Gregg Marshall and the Shockers, who misplaced all eight gamers who performed in at the least 30 video games final season. Markis McDuffie and Samajae Haynes-Jones are nonetheless round to present veteran management to a staff that welcomes the convention’s second-best 2018 recruiting class, in keeping with 247Sports activities’ Composite rankings.
Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker had been freshmen once they helped lead WSU to the Closing 4 in 2013. It will likely be a tough activity to duplicate for the likes of Morris Udeze, Erik Stevenson, Likelihood Moore and others within the class, however a robust first season may set the groundwork for an additional profitable core for Marshall.
AAC Sleeper staff: UConn
The Huskies haven’t been in a position to come anyplace near triumphs of the 2011 or 2014 nationwide championship groups, however the 2018-19 season presents a chance to take a step in the fitting course. Dan Hurley was employed within the offseason because the staff’s new head coach, changing Kevin Ollie, who was fired after back-to-back dropping seasons. Hurley went 113-82 at Rhode Island, and took the Rams to the second spherical of the NCAA Event every of the final two years.
Jalen Adams suits the mould of a Kemba Walker- or Shabazz Napier-type participant who may take command of this Huskies staff. It will likely be a matter of whether or not the Huskies’ secondary gamers step up, specifically Christian Very important and Alterique Gilbert — who has had bother staying wholesome however has impressed when he’s performed. A nationwide championship might not be within the playing cards for the Huskies this season, however important enchancment may put them in rivalry in a large open AAC.
5 largest AAC common season video games:
Wichita State at Memphis, Jan. 3: The convention slate begins with two groups that seem like heading in several instructions. With Jeremiah Martin, Kyvon Davenport and a brand new teaching employees, the Tigers look poised to complete close to the highest of the AAC. The identical can’t essentially be mentioned for the youthful Shockers. This recreation will probably be an excellent litmus check — for each groups — on their seasons.
Houston at SMU, Jan. 16: One of many few in-state convention rivalries may present a chance for a giant AAC upset, as SMU isn’t among the many convention favorites however nonetheless has a succesful roster.
Cincinnati at Houston, Feb. 10: This will probably be one of many few convention video games that will probably be aired on ESPN, and for good cause. It’s a rematch of the 2018 AAC Championship, and can characteristic arguably the 2 finest groups within the convention as soon as once more.
UCF at Cincinnati, Feb. 21: One other alternative for a convention underdog to indicate they will play with the best stage of competitors. Taking part in the Bearcats on the street is a tall activity, however we’ll see if the Knights are up for it.
Memphis at Cincinnati, March 2: This contest may have large implications for each the AAC and the NCAA Event. Memphis may power its method into the sphere of 68, and a win over Cincinnati could be an enormous resume booster. If the Tigers defy these expectations, this may very well be for the No. 1 seed within the AAC Event.
AAC Participant of the Yr hopefuls:
Jarron Cumberland, G, Cincinnati: Cumberland took a again seat to Gary Clark, Jacob Evans and others on the Bearcats final yr, however a number of departures ought to thrust him into the highlight and permit him to interrupt out. He averaged 11.5 factors per recreation in his sophomore season, together with 22 factors per recreation within the Bearcats’ two NCAA match matchups.
Jalen Adams, G, Connecticut: Adams has seen an enormous leap in offensive development in every of his first three seasons with the Huskies, together with a median of 18.1 ppg final yr. He made first staff All-AAC as a sophomore and second staff All-AAC as a junior. The offense will run by way of him.
Corey Davis Jr., G, Houston: Davis shortly made his mark on the Cougars offense after transferring from San Jacinto Junior School final yr, averaging 13.1 ppg and capturing 43 p.c from 3-point vary whereas establishing himself as a professional secondary scoring choice to Rob Grey. With Grey — who was on the first-team All-AAC final season — out of the image, Davis must be Houston’s major possibility on offense.
Jeremiah Martin, G, Memphis: Martin was second final season within the AAC in ppg (18.9), regardless of lacking seven video games as a consequence of harm. Though he underwent emergency hernia surgical procedure on the finish of August, he must be good to go earlier than the season begins. He doesn’t simply rating, as Martin led the Tigers in assists (3.8) and was third in rebounds (4.3) final yr. So long as he stays wholesome, Martin has the potential to supply at an All-AAC stage.
AAC coach with essentially the most to show: Johnny Dawkins, UCF
Dawkins had minor success at Stanford, his earlier teaching cease, making one NCAA Event look in eight years. He has but to get UCF off the bottom — going 43-25 with one NIT look in his first two seasons — however this can be his yr to do it. The Knights convey again seven of their eight high scorers from final season, and the shortage of a transparent convention favourite offers a chance to climb the ranks.