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.