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.
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
- Nov. 12 Oregon at Memphis
- Dec. 18 Tennessee at Cincinnati
- Jan. 15 Wichita State at Temple
- Feb. 1 Houston at Cincinnati
- Mar. 8 Memphis at Houston
- Wichita State
- South Florida