The American Athletic Conference will once again be one of the most competitive conferences in college basketball this season.

AAC preview: Which team will come out on top in 2020?

Last season, the American Athletic Conference established itself as one of the most competitive conferences in college basketball. Eight of the 12 teams finished the season with a winning record, while four basketball programs (Cincinnati, Houston, Temple and UFC) played their way into the bright lights of March Madness last spring.

Ahead of the 2020 NCAA season, the AAC is poised to produce another exciting season with Cincinnati, Houston, Temple and UFC looking to ride their wave of success into the new year, as other schools (Memphis, Wichita State, South Florida, and UConn) awaits to establish themselves as one of the conference's most elite programs.

With arguably the nation's best player residing in Memphis and a few coaching changes that will surely improve a few teams, the AAC will be one of the most intriguing conferences to watch next season.

Five AAC Players to watch

James Wiseman, Memphis, Freshman:

Arguably the most exciting player to walk the campus of Memphis since Derrick Rose, James Wiseman is by far the most compelling college basketball player in the AAC this season. ESPN ranked the 7'0 center as the nation's top basketball recruit coming out of high school, and is the reason why the Memphis Tigers have high expectations heading into next season. Without playing a single game, Wiseman has all but wrapped up the AAC Freshman player of the Year award, and is an early favorite to take home the Naismith honors next spring. A projected No.1 overall pick for the 2020 NBA Draft, Wiseman recorded 25.8 points, 14.8 rebounds and 5.5 blocks as a High School McDonald's All-American last year in Memphis.

Jarron Cumberland, Cincinnati, Senior:

From the AAC's newest star to their oldest, Jarron Cumberland enters his final season with the Cincinnati Bearcats as the conference's most established player. As one of the best guards in the country, Cumberland took the reins as the Bearcats leading scorer, averaging 18.8 points per game—which ranked third in scoring for the AAC. While helping Cincinnati reach the NCAA tournament, Cumberland's play awarded him the AAC's Player of the year honors and first-team All-Conference in 2019. After testing the waters for the NBA, Cumberland may have the most outstanding year of any AAC player in 2020, as Cincinnati looks to punch another ticket to the Big Dance in March.

Quinton Rose, Temple, Senior:

Entering his senior year, Quinton Rose may be the most explosive player in the AAC heading into the new season. In 2019, the 6'8 guard from Rochester, NY, finished top-10 in the conference in scoring (16.3) and led the Temple Owls to a 23-10 (13-5) record. In each of his three years with the Owls, Rose has taken his game to another level, and one should expect him to do the same under Temple's new head coach, Aaron McKie. A projected first-round pick for the 2020 NBA Draft, Rose has the potential to end the season as the AAC's top scorer, while building a case to take home the AAC's Player of the year award in 2020.

Dejon Jarreau, Houston, Junior:

The Houston Cougars are entering the new season of college basketball with hopes of winning more than an AAC regular-season title in 2020. Although it will be a hard feat to accomplish due to the departures of Corey Davis Jr., Armoni Brooks, and Galen Robinson Jr, the Cougars should not be overlooked due to the emerges of the third-year guard, Dejon Jarreau. In 2019, Jarreau played an enormous role in helping the Cougars reach the Sweet-Sixteen as a spark off the bench, averaging 8.7 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 3.0 assists. After earning the AAC Sixth-Man of the Year honors, Jarreau has the potential to help Houston surpass their success as the team's top talent.

Precious Achiuwa, Memphis, Freshman:

If James Wiseman falls short of winning the AAC Freshman Player of the Year award, then his teammate Precious Achiuwa may have been a greater standout. Similar to Wiseman, Achiuwa is an ESPN top 25 recruit (No. 17) and is another reason why the Memphis Tigers have high expectations heading into the new season. He is a long and athletic forward who will make the Tigers frontcourt nearly impossible to defend playing next to Wiseman.

Bold Predictions

Memphis will fall short of the AAC title:

Heading into the 2019-2020 college basketball season, all eyes will be on the Memphis Tigers. With head coach Penny Hardaway revamping the basketball program, the Tigers came away with the best recruiting class in the country—headlined by projected No.1 overall pick, James Wiseman. Although the Tigers will emerge as the top team in the conference, one should expect Memphis to fall short of the AAC title to either Cincinnati or Houston. The Tigers are talented, and the hype surrounding them is real. But expect their young talented core to suffer the same fate as Duke (19) and Kentucky (15).

Cincinnati will win the AAC Title:

Last season, the Cincinnati Bearcats pulled an upset to defeat the Houston Cougars for the 2019 American Athletic Conference Men's Basketball title. Although they entered the Big Dance has favorites to reach the Sweet-Sixteen, Cincinnati's had a premature exit by losing to No.10 seed Iowa during the NCAA Tournament. With star guard, Jarron Cumberland, returning for his senior year, look for Cincinnati to break the hearts of Houston or Memphis en route to their third consecutive conference title.

Houston, Memphis, and Cincinnati will make an appearance in the NCAA Tournament:

Heading into the 2019-20 season, the American Athletic Conference has several teams who will be in contention for a tournament bid, but only three teams will have a chance to dance in March. Memphis, Cincinnati and Houston will all represent the AAC in the NCAA Tournament, with the Bearcats advancing the farthest into the elite eight.

Top-5 Must Watch Games

  1. Nov. 12 Oregon at Memphis
  2. Dec. 18 Tennessee at Cincinnati
  3. Jan. 15 Wichita State at Temple
  4. Feb. 1 Houston at Cincinnati
  5. Mar. 8 Memphis at Houston

Projected finish

  1. Memphis
  2. Cincinnati
  3. Houston
  4. Wichita State
  5. Temple
  6. South Florida
  7. UConn
  8. Tulsa
  9. UCF
  10. SMU
  11. Tulane
  12. ECU

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After a short turnaround, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to their Mecca at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the famed Coca-Cola 600. Of all the races in NASCAR, after Daytona this race may be the most important race on the schedule. The tradition started back in 1959 when former driver and hall of famer Curtis Turner teamed up with Burton Smith to build the track and upon its completion, they decided to make the first race at the new track on the same day as the Indy 500. In an effort to draw fans, they made the race 100 miles longer and from there the rest was history. This year's rendition will be somber though as no fans will be permitted to enter due to Covid-19, but even in this time of unrest it will be a relief to continue to see our heroes take on NASCAR's longest race.

For the first time, NASCAR pulled off it's first midweek race and it was a doozy. For most of the race there was a wide range of characters who were up front. Clint Bowyer set the tone early as he went on to win the first two stages but after getting caught in traffic he fell back. To make matters worse, Bowyer was involved in an accident that ended any chance of victory. While it wasn't the outcome he would have hoped for, to see how well he ran is a sign of good things to come for the Kansas native. I look forward to seeing how he rebounds.

With Bowyer out of it, the attention shifted to Chase Elliott. All night it seemed like he had the second best car and looked to be on his way to another victory but after the caution for Bowyer, Elliott lost a ton of track position after a bad pit-stop. This left the sports most popular driver stuck in traffic, but he was able to make his way back to second. In the final laps, he was easily the best car and appeared to be on his way past Denny Hamlin to take the victory but Kyle Busch had other ideas. The defending champion made a sudden right hand turn and veered into Elliott sending him head on into the wall.

It was safe to say that Elliott was not pleased as he gave Busch the one finger salute as he drove by under caution. The race was not able to resume as Mother Nature intervened giving Hamlin his second win of the season. Many fans and experts alike were critical of Busch's stunt, Jeff Gordon was quoted as saying "Not sure what that was all about." When the race was over, Busch was confronted by Elliott's Crew Chief Alan Gufston. When it was said and done security had to be called to separate the two. While it might not have been intentional, Busch has opened up a can of worms in the future for retaliation. It will be fun to watch what happens next.

Overall, the response to NASCAR's midweek race was overwhelmingly positive as it was the third highest watched event on television. As NASCAR continues to be fluid, more and more people are becoming interested. NASCAR journalist and reporter Adam Stern tweeted that more than thirty percent of the viewers of Sunday's race were new viewers. Even though we may not always agree with the way NASCAR does things, I have to say they have done an outstanding job at putting this schedule together. I hope that in the future, NASCAR continues this new tradition.

Moving on to Charlotte, The driver I have winning this weekend is Chase Elliott. In every race this season, Chase has been a force to be reckoned but has simply run into circumstances he can't control. At Vegas before the shutdown, he seemed to have the race in hand until a flat tire ended any chances of victory. Two weeks later at Phoenix, he led ninety-three laps until fading to a seventh place finish and with a new-found fire lit under him after Darlington, Elliott will be like a bull in the china shop come Sunday. While he has been great at every track he has run at, he has been especially fast at Charlotte. He currently has a 10.60 average finish there and has consistently led laps. This week, I think Elliott will get redemption and claim his sixth career victory in one of NASCAR's crown jewels. Look for him to take his #9 Napa Camaro to victory lane.

(All stats and information used in this article is brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com the best website for all NASCAR stats)

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