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American Athletic Conference Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

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Here’s the weird think about the American this year: The most intriguing part of what happens in this conference tournament has nothing to do with the actual tournament itself.

For starters, just about everyone is locked into their March future. We could see, say, Cincinnati jump up to a No. 2 seed or Wichita State climb onto the No. 3 seed line with a title — and who wouldn’t want to see the Shockers and the Bearcats go for Round 3 — but there is no one on the bubble and just three teams that are headed to the NCAA tournament. Cincinnati, as the No. 1 seed, will not play a tourney-bound team into the title game.

No, what makes this event interesting is figuring out which coaches we’ve seen the last of in their current digs.

The smoke surrounding Penny Hardaway’s move to Memphis seems to be getting thicker despite the fact that Tubby Smith finished the season strong and won 10 AAC games. Kevin Ollie, who won the 2014 National Title, could very much find himself on the way out as well. And then there is Fran Dunphy, the long-time Temple head coach that may find himself on the outs as well.

The American should not be as unintriguing as it is. The league is the butt of a lot of joke, but it is still a conference that includes programs like Memphis, UConn, Temple and SMU. Throw in Houston, Cincinnati and Wichita State, and there’s no reason they shouldn’t be getting five or six bids every season.

That’s why we’re talking about some of the better jobs in the conference opening.

We’ll see if they actually do.


At this point, it has to be Cincinnati. The Bearcats won the league’s outright regular season title after going into Koch Arena and picking off Wichita State on Sunday. Mick Cronin’s club can just wear you down defensively, but what makes them so intriguing at this point in the year is that their best player, Jacob Evans, looks like he’s starting to figure out that he should play like he’s the best player.


There are only two other teams that I can see putting together a run to the tournament title: Wichita State and Houston. The Shockers have enough talent on the offensive end to beat just about anyone in the country if they decide to defend, but that has not been a guarantee at any point this season. One of the most shocking parts of this season is the lack of toughness that a Gregg Marshall team plays with. As far as the Cougars, they have the one guy from this league that I can see going all-Kemba Walker and carrying his team to a tournament title and a run in the NCAAs in Rob Gray, who has inherited the title of best top knot in college hoops from Kyle Guy.



Other than Tubby Smith, Kevin Ollie and Fran Dunphy? I’ll go with the Bearcats just because they could find a way to get up to a No. 2 seed. But the lack of intrigue with this conference tournament is that most of the teams have their March fates pre-determined.


No one. Literally no one.


Frank Haith has actually done a pretty good job with a Tulsa team that lost a lot of talent from last year. There was some speculation earlier in the year that he was on the hot seat, but he shut those people up by finished 12-6 in the league, good for fourth in the conference. He could be looking at a trip to the NIT.


I mentioned it earlier, but Rob Gray is the one guy that I think has the ability to pull a Kemba or a Shabazz. He’s been one of the most underrated players in America for a couple of seasons now, and I would not put it past him to averaged 25 points and six assists in this event while picking off Wichita State and Cincinnati en route to a title. If that were to happen, I think that Houston might be able to climb as high as a No. 5 seed in the Big Dance.



PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Gary Clark, Cincinnati

COACH OF THE YEAR: Kelvin Sampson, Houston


  • Landry Shamet, Wichita State
  • Rob Gray, Houston
  • Jacob Evans, Cincinnati
  • Gary Clary, Cincinnati
  • Shaq Morris, Wichita State


  • Jalen Adams, UConn
  • Shake Milton, SMU
  • AJ Davis, UCF
  • Melvin Frazier, Tulane
  • Junior Etou, Tulsa

Police: Thief steals electronics from UNC basketball program

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Police say someone stole thousands of dollars in electronics from the University of North Carolina men’s basketball team locker room and office while they were away for the ACC tournament.

UNC-Chapel Hill campus police said on Twitter that the break-in happened at the Dean Smith Center on March 9, and they released images of a man they believe may have been involved.

A police report says the thief managed to get into the team locker room and basketball office without forced entry, according to The Herald-Sun.

The report says the thief stole a PlayStation 4, Xbox One and clothing worth $2,900 that belonged to the athletic department. Police say the thief also stole a laptop worth $1,200 and a financial document worth about $3,000 belonging to one of the players.

No upsets over here: No. 1 seed UConn women set scoring records in first round game

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The No. 1 overall seed on the men’s side of the NCAA tournament made history on Friday night.

They because the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed in the first round of the tournament, as Virginia lost to UMBC, if you were still unaware.

Over on the women’s side, the bracket is nowhere near as broken, because UConn’s women made history, too. They set NCAA tournament records for … well, almost everything it seems like.

The Huskies were up 55-19 at the end of the first quarter of their first round game against St. Francis (PA). Those 55 points are an NCAA tournament record. They held a 94-31 lead at the half, another NCAA tournament record, and held on to win 140-52.

The 140 points that Geno Auriemma’s team scored was an NCAA tournament record. The 88 points that they won by was one point short of an NCAA tournament record 89 points that was set by Baylor in a win over Texas Southern last season.

Oh, and the Huskies set the record for more assists in an NCAA tournament game — 38 — for good measure.

All in all, I think it’s safe to say that the fans in Storrs had a better weekend than the fans in Charlottesville. Hopefully, that will allow them to forget the fact that the men’s basketball program has become a laughing stock.

2018 NCAA Tournament: Maryland Governor calls UMBC upset, so does NBC Sports’ writer son

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Never before in the history of the NCAA tournament as a No. 16 seed upset a No. 1 seed.

That was until Friday night, when UMBC sent the No. 1 overall seed Virginia packing.

And if you thought no one had picked that upset, you were wrong.

Let’s start with the Maryland Governor, who was clearly a homer in picking UMBC to not only beat Virginia, but to win a national title:

Never say never, but … that’s never going to happen bud.

But how about this: My son, who is two years old and based his picks on his hard and fast rule of “all the doggies”, called this upset!

He also called Penn over Kansas, Fullerton over Purdue and Butler winning a national title, but whatever.

That bracket is actually pretty good!

VIDEO: Virginia’s Ty Jerome does not appreciate dumb question after UMBC loss

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You have to give Virginia some credit.

After losing to No. 16 seed UMBC in the first round of the NCAA tournament, the players on that roster faced the music. They went up to the dais and answered question from reporters on national television.

There is no way they enjoyed that.

And you can tell because Ty Jerome had absolutely no interest in answering dumb questions from reporters:

He was not amused.

2018 NCAA Tournament: Saturday’s betting lines, point spreads, over-unders

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Here is the full TV schedule, with spreads, over-unders and betting lines, for every game for the first four days of the NCAA tournament.

(Lines are updated for Saturday morning.)

Pittsburgh: Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Dan Bonner and Dana Jacobson

  • 12:10 p.m.: No. 1 Villanova (-11.5) vs. No. 9 Alabama, CBS (149.5)
  • 2:40 p.m.: No. 2 Duke (-9.5) vs. No. 7 Rhode Island, CBS (149)

Boise: Brian Anderson, Chris Webber and Lisa Byington

  • 5:15 p.m.: No. 5 Kentucky (-5.5) vs. No. 13 Buffalo, CBS (155)
  • 7:45 p.m.: No. 4 Gonzaga (-4) vs. No. 5 Ohio State, CBS (141.5)

Dallas: Spero Dedes, Steve Smith, Len Elmore and Ros Gold-Onwude

  • 6:10 p.m.: No. 3 Tennessee (-5) vs. No. 11 Loyola (Chicago), TNT (131.5)
  • 8:40: No. 3 Texas Tech (-1.5) vs. No. 6 Florida, TNT (133.5)

Wichita: Brad Nessler, Steve Lavin and Evan Washburn

  • 7:10 p.m.: No. 1 Kansas (-4.5) vs. No. 8 Seton Hall, TBS (154.5)
  • 9:40 p.m.: No. 3 Michigan (-3) vs. No. 6 Houston, TBS (135)