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American Conference Tournament Preview, Bracket and Conference Postseason Awards

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American Player of the Year: Semi Ojeleye, SMU

Ojeleye was one of the most improved players in the country this season, churning out a season where the 6-foot-8 forward averaging 18.5 points and 6.5 boards while shooting 43.1 percent from beyond the arc. He was the biggest reason that Tim Jackovich and company were able to win the outright AAC regular season title.

American Coach of the Year: Tim Jankovich, SMU

While Johnny Dawkins at UCF deserves some credit for the season that the Knights had, it’s Jankovich that deserves the Coach of the Year award in the league. He took over in July for Larry Brown after his aburpt decision to resign and has taken a team that goes six-deep to the league’s regular season title over a very good Cincinnati team. That’s impressive.

First-Team All-AAC

  • Semi Ojeleye, SMU (POY)
  • Dedric Lawson, Memphis: Lawson put up crazy numbers for Memphis this season, numbers that rivaled what Ben Simmons did a year ago for LSU.
  • Rob Gray, Houston: Gray was the leading scorer in the AAC for a Houston team that was a factor in the NCAA tournament picture until a late loss to Cincinnati.
  • Jalen Adams, UConn: After a slow start to the season, Adams came on strong down the stretch to keep UConn’s season from being a total disaster.
  • Troy Caupain, Cincinnati: Caupain didn’t have a great year as a senior, but he’s the steadying hand at the point that led this group to a 16-2 league record and a potential top five seed in the NCAA tournament.

Second Team All-AAC:

  • Damyean Dotson, Houston
  • B.J. Taylor, UCF
  • Kyle Washington, Cincinnati
  • Shake Milton, SMU
  • Sterling Brown, SMU

RELATED: Player of the Year | Coach of the Year | NBC Sports All-Americans

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The Bracket

When: March 9-12

Where: Hartford, CT

Final: March 12th, 3:15 p.m.

Favorite: SMU Mustangs

It’s hard not to pick the AAC regular season champs to add to their trophy collection in Hartford this week. The biggest issue for this team is going to be their depth. They play six guys and will have to win games on three straight nights to cut down the nets. That won’t be easy to do.

And if they lose?: Cincinnati Bearcats

I’m not sure there is a tougher team in the conference that Mick Cronin’s club. If it wasn’t for a loss at UCF that was the result of a missed wide-open dunk with less than 10 seconds left, the Bearcats would have won a share of the league title, with their only loss coming on the road against SMU. This is a really good team.

Other Contenders:

  • Houston: Kelvin Sampson has done a good job with this group. The duo of Rob Gray and Damyean Dotson can put up points with the best of them.
  • UCF: B.J. Taylor is one of the most underrated players in the league, while 7-foot-6 Tacko Fall has developed into a force at center this season.

Sleeper: UConn Huskies

UConn has played better down the stretch of the season, and not only do they have one of the best players in the league in Jalen Adams, but they will be playing this tournament in UConn’s secondary home court, the XL Center in Hartford. As we’ve seen in the mid-major ranks this week, it’s not easy to win games in March on the road.

The Bubble Dwellers: None

Defining moment of the season: It may still be coming. The AAC plays their tournament final just hours before the Selection Show is scheduled to start. If SMU or Cincinnati fails to make it to the AAC title game, they’ll give the Selection Committee headaches as they try to put the finishing touches on the bracket with a possible autobid playing.

CBT Prediction: SMU and Cincinnati play a thriller in the final that the Bearcats win.

Buffalo sophomore arrested, charged with strangulation, witness intimidation

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Buffalo sophomore Quate McKinzie is facing a litany of charges stemming from an incident in which he allegedly attempted to strangle a female acquaintance.

McKinzie, who is 20 years old, was later handed more charges after he made threatening phone calls to his accuser from jail.
From the Buffalo News:

The original charges placed against the UB sophomore were second-degree strangulation, a D-felony; misdemeanor counts of criminal obstruction of breathing, assault, menacing, harassment; and stealing the victim’s vehicle.

The latest charges are third-degree witness intimidation and first-degree criminal contempt, both E-felonies; and two misdemeanors, aggravated harassment and disobeying a court mandate, according to Tonawanda Police Patrol Capt. Fredric Foels.

“University Athletics is aware of the alleged incident and is in communication with university and local authorities,” Buffalo released in a statement. “Quate McKinzie is currently enrolled at the University at Buffalo and is suspended indefinitely from the university’s basketball team. Due to the ongoing investigation and federal protections on student information, we will have no further comment on the matter at this time.”

McKinzie is a 6-foot-8, 195 pound forward that played in 17 games last season. He averaged 3.9 points and 4.3 boards.

Auburn’s Austin Wiley suffers stress fracture

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Auburn center Austin Wiley has a stress fracture in his left leg and will be out 4-6 weeks, the school announced Monday.

No surgery is required, but Wiley, who played with Team USA’s U19 team in Egypt earlier this month, will miss Auburn’s trip to Italy.

“You know how tough and committed a young man is when he plays through the pain of a stress fracture,” said Pearl. “He was receiving treatment while in Egypt, but had no way of knowing the extent of his injury. Doctors say it is in a good spot for healing, and he will be fine.”

Wiley averaged 8.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 18.1 minutes this past season. He started 21 of the Tigers’ 22 games after he enrolled in school midseason.

Virginia Tech loses key shooter to torn ACL

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Virginia Tech suffered a brutal blow earlier this month when Ty Outlaw went down with a torn ACL in his right knee.

Outlaw is one of the best shooters on Virginia Tech’s roster, banging home 48 percent of his three-balls last season, and he was expected to be a major part of the rotation following a season where he scored in double-figures in six of the last eight games, including four games of better than 16 points in that stretch.

This is a blow to Virginia Tech’s depth, but it is also a tough break for Outlaw, who transferred to Virginia Tech from a Junior College and had to sit out the 2015-16 season due to a heart issue. The redshirt senior will likely be eligible to receive a medical redshirt should he decide to apply for one.

Report: Miller brothers schedule Indiana-Arizona series

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The Miller family does not appear to be worried about sibling rivalry.

According to a report from FanRag Sports, Archie, the head coach at Indiana, and Sean, the head coach at Arizona, have agreed to a three-year deal to have the two programs face-off against each other. They’ll start in 2019-20, playing in Arizona, then face-off in Bloomington the following season before finally heading up to Madison Square Garden in 2021-22.

If you can get past the fact that we are now scheduling games for 2022 (!!!), this is actually going to be a pretty neat and unique thing. How often do two brothers end up coaching at the Division I level? The Drew brothers — Bryce at Vanderbilt and Scott at Baylor — are one pair, but they cancelled a series that would have seen the two programs square off last season. James and Joe Jones at Yale and Boston University are another pair. They were league rivals for eight yeas when Joe was the head coach at Columbia. When Sean Sutton was the head coach at Oklahoma State, his brother, Scott, beat them was the head coach at Oral Roberts.

So it’s not typical for this to happen, mainly because it’s not easy to compete at something so important against someone you care about so much.

Think about it.

Imagine working in a profession where your success comes at the expense of your brother? It’s one of the major reasons — beyond the obvious — that no one believed Sean Miller would actually consider taking the Ohio State job when it opened. Facing off against your brother in a non-conference game you choose to play is one thing. Competing for league titles against him for the foreseeable future is something totally different.

Which is a long way of saying that this should be an enticing matchup, however it plays out.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson throws down a vicious putback

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Zion Williamson made another highlight-reel play on Saturday outside of Atlanta as he threw down a vicious putback dunk at the Best of the South.

The five-star prospect has returned from a minor knee injury this spring to look like his old self in July as he’s entertained packed gyms of fans and college coaches the last two weeks.

The Class of 2018 star is currently regarded as the No. 3 overall prospect in the latest Rivals.com national rankings.

(h/t: Courtside Films)