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Memphis' AAC Tournament Preview

The AAC conference tournament court after Memphis won the tournament last season.
The AAC conference tournament court after Memphis won the tournament last season.

The American Athletic Conference tournament starts Thursday afternoon for Memphis, as they look to repeat as the AAC tournament champions. However this time, they will have to do something no team in AAC history has done before: win four games in four days. The only way to make the NCAA tournament for the Tigers after their massively disappointing 5th place conference finish is to win the conference tournament and get the automatic bid.  

Here is their path to do so: 

First Round- Memphis vs Wichita St/Rice, March 14th 1:30 PM  

The opening round for Memphis will be them playing the winner of Wednesday’s game between Wichita St and Rice, the 12th and 13th placed team in the conference, respectively. No matter who wins their matchup, this should be an easy victory for Memphis to open the tournament.  

Memphis has swept Wichita St this year, including putting 112 points on them in Wichita, but lost to Rice at home in their one meeting, by far their worst loss of the season and the one loss that is keeping them from being in the at-large conversation. Even with this loss, expect Memphis to be favored by close to double digits against either one of these teams. 

Quarterfinals- Memphis vs UAB, March 15th 2:30 PM 

If Memphis wins their first game, UAB will be waiting on them in the quarterfinals, as they got a double bye into this round. This is a fascinating matchup, as UAB dominated Memphis in Birmingham, and was up 22 on them in the first half in Memphis, until Memphis went on an absurd 46-9 run and won the game by 19 on senior day.  

In their first three halves of basketball this year, UAB was the better team, although in the most recent 20 minutes between these teams, Memphis pummeled them 60-26.  

Did Memphis figure UAB out, or was that an extreme outlier? The reality is likely somewhere in the middle, as Memphis should be the better team, but not that much better. On a neutral court, expect Memphis to be favored by 4-6 points in this matchup. 

Semifinals- March 16th 2 PM 

In the semifinals, Memphis would likely face the regular season winner of the conference, South Florida, unless they lose to either East Carolina or Tulsa in the quarterfinals. Assuming South Florida is the opponent, Memphis has a good chance against them and will be slightly favored in the game. In their one matchup this season, Memphis went up by 20 points in the second half, before blowing the lead and losing by one, 74-73.  

If South Florida gets upset, Memphis should have no problems with East Carolina or Tulsa, and will be a double digit favorite over either team, similar to their first round matchup. 

Finals- March 17th 2:15 PM 

The AAC final is the penultimate game of the college basketball season, starting just 15 minutes before the Big 10 title game and two hours and 45 minutes before the all important bracket is revealed on CBS, a bracket Memphis will be in if and only if they are able to make and win this game. The opponent is anyone’s guess, but the most likely opponent is familiar foe FAU, who even though they finished third in the conference, is the best team in the conference and the only one that has an at-large resume. The two other main contenders are 6 seed SMU and 3 seed Charlotte 

If Memphis makes it to this point it will probably be the only game of the tournament they are not favored in, unless FAU or SMU are not in the game. As is commonplace with a championship game, it will likely be the hardest game of the tournament for Memphis and their 4th in four days. 


Memphis lucked out with their side of the bracket, as they avoid FAU, SMU, and North Texas until the championship game, all of which are their worst matchups in the league due to their three point shooting and rebounding.  

Memphis can make the title game, but much like the final two months of the season, will not be able to win the big game when it matters. The consistency from this team night in and night out has not been there, but they should be able to put together three winning efforts. However, four games in four days will be too tough on this team that plays at such a fast pace with such a short rotation. For the second year in a row, Memphis’ season will end at the hands of FAU. 

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