Back to School: Coaches Coaching at their Alma Maters in the 2018 NCAA Tournament

It’s March. It’s the first Thursday of the NCAA Tournament. This really is is the most wonderful time of the year because greatest sports tournament in the world has started. A lot of fun stuff this year, but amid all of the talk of Dan D’antoni leading Marshall to the Tourney for the 1st time in 30+ years (which I think is really cool by the way), I got particularly curious about coaches coaching at their alma maters in this Tourney. There were of course 68 teams in the NCAA Tournament (now 64). 11 of them (or 16.2%) have head coaches coaching at their undergraduate alma maters. Thanks to for the majority of data.

LaVall Jordan, Butler. (Finishing his 1st Season at Butler) Jordan graduated from Butler in 2001, and came back in 2003 as an assistant. He had a pretty mediocre year last season in his only season at the helm at UW-Milwaukee. Even so, it was easy for Butler to hire Jordan considering his Butler pedigree. He is a Bulldog legend — and went to 3 tournaments as a player between 1998–2001, including breaking a 39-year tournament win drought for the Bulldogs in 2001.

Mick Cronin, Cincinnati. (12) In 2006, when recently ousted Bob Huggins underling Andy Kennedy bolted the Bearcats for his home-state team, Ole Miss, Mick stepped up for his alma mater. Boy howdy are the Cincinnati faithful happy he did. This is the 7th Consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance for Cincinnati, who has had Mick lead them to 266 wins . Coach Cronin will likely catch up to West Virginia alum Bob Huggins (398 wins at Cincinnati) before he’s done.

Dan D’antoni, Marshall. (4) In his first head coaching job, national treasure and older brother Dan D’antoni has led the Thundering Herd to the Dance for the first time in more than 30 years. Dan, brother of fellow Herd alum and current Houston Rockets head coach Mike, has his teams play a speedy ‘7 seconds or less’ style similar to his bro’s. Watch out, (Wichita State coach Gregg) Marshall, Marshall is (are?) Marshall. D’antoni was no slouch as a player for the Herd either; he is in the Marshall Athletics Hall of Fame.

Travis Decuire, Montana. (4) Decuire didn’t play much, but he did learn a lot as a student-athlete for Montana under coach Blaine Taylor. A few years after graduating with a degree in Marketing, he rejoined Coach Taylor as an assistant at Old Dominion and contributed to the Monarchs making two NCAA Tournaments. Now in his 4th year as the head man at Montana, Decuire’s got the Grizz in the tourney for the first time during his tenure. Watch out for the Grizzlies, as Montana is poised to have an even better year in 2018–2019. They only have one Senior on the current team and all-Big Sky standout Ahmaad Rorie will be ready to go for Big Sky POY next year. Decuire could treat Montana like a stepping stone job like previous alums and head coaches Wayne Tinkle and Larry Kristkowiak, as he should have a shot at a bigger job soon. I think he’ll stay, though, as he reportedly took himself out of the running for the Cal job last year.

LeVelle Moton, UNC-Central. (9) NC Central’s Athletics Website describes coach Moton as “arguably one of the greatest players in school history” and when he’s done with the Eagles, he’ll be described that way as a coach too. They joined D-I in 2011 under Moton, and this was their 3rd NCAA Tournament appearance since then representing the MEAC. They weren’t able to pull off their first Division I NCAA Tournament win Wednesday against Mike Davis’ Texas Southern team. I liked his UNC-Central to beat em, I was wrong.

Roy Williams, North Carolina. (15) Roy was notoriously recruited by his alma mater while at Kansas many times, and resisted each time. But he decided in 2003 to take over — after Matt Doherty’s Heels missed the tournament two years in a row — and will certainly retire as the Heels’ head ball coach. Roy has 423 wins at North Carolina. All he has to do is double it to get within 33 wins of Dean Smith’s 879. No problem, it took Roy 15 seasons to get there, so after 15 more, he’ll be 82 years old. Piece of cake.

Matt Painter, Purdue. (13) Matt Painter was a player and former assistant under Purdue legend Gene Keady and got the job in 2005 after Keady’s retirement. Painter was chosen over his former Boilermaker teammate and fellow assistant coach, Cuonzo Martin. Martin is the former head coach of Tennessee and Cal, and is currently coaching in this NCAA Tournament as the head coach of Mizzou.

Jim Boeheim, Syracuse. (42) Jim Boeheim is coaching in his 42nd season at his alma mater, and won his 58th Tournament game for the Orange on Wednesday night. He was a solid player, starting all 28 games and finishing the season with 14.6 ppg as a senior for the 1965–66 Orangemen. Despite his sometimes acerbic and contemptuous demeanor with the media, Boeheim is unquestionably a coaching legend, trailing only Coach K for all-time wins as a college basketball head coach.

Jamie Dixon, TCU. (2) Holy crap, how happy are the TCU faithful that Pitt completely blew it with Dixon and forced him out to his alma mater. In just his second year in the Metroplex, Dixon has the Horned Frogs in the NCAA Tournament for the 1st time in 20 years. (Remember Lee Nailon former WACtion fans!?) Dixon was no slouch as a player, either. He led the ol’ SWC in assists his senior year and led TCU to the NCAA Tournament that year. Interestingly, Alabama coach Avery Johnson led the nation in assists that ’86–’87 season.

Bob Huggins, West Virginia. (11) Both of West Virginia’s D-I schools are in the tournament, and both of them feature coaches coaching for their alma maters. Huggy Bear was a solid player for the Mountaineers, averaging 13+ points and almost 4 assists in his senior year of ’77. In fact, Huggy was an academic marvel while at WVU. He was an academic all-American who graduated magna cum laude with dual degrees in Education and Physical Therapy. He stayed in Morgantown for a year as an assistant and to complete his Masters in Health Administration. I would be shocked if Huggy Bear’s 5th landing spot as a head coach isn’t his last.

Notable Others

Arizona State. If you don’t know where Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley went to college, you aren’t a college basketball fan. Period. End of Discussion. Needless to say, the committee put them in the Omaha bracket with another certain team for a reason. Moving on.

*Arkansas. Mike Anderson graduated from my alma mater, the University of Tulsa. He coached under Nolan Richardson there, and then moved on with him to Arkansas. He has described Arkansas as his “dream job”.

Creighton. Greg McDermott left the head coaching job at his alma mater Northern Iowa University for Iowa State in 2006, and then left in 2010 for Creighton. (Bookview: I’m taking Kansas State against them in their 1st Round Matchup Friday. He has never won an NCAA Tournament game without his kid. Dougie McBuckets).

Duke. Coach K of course went to Army, which was also his first head coaching job . He got the Army job in 1975, succeeding the man who was his college head coach and mentor, one Robert Knight. Coach K got the Army job at 28 years old.

*Gonzaga. Mark Few did his undergraduate study at Oregon, but has an Masters from Gonzaga that he received as an assistant coach. For those that don’t know, Mark Few is a a future Basketball Hall of Famer, and likely the most underrated college basketball coach of all time.

Kentucky. John Calipari has no link to Kentucky or Memphis or UMass or anything. He is from Moon Township, PA, which is in the district where they had the special election yesterday.

LIU Brooklyn. Derrick Kellogg lost to Radford yesterday, as @Wronglines predicted. While he lost, he accomplished the exact same as what he did in 9 Years coaching at his alma matter, UMass — making the NCAA Tournament once.

Missouri. See Purdue, Matt Painter. The only way that Mizzou and Purdue would meet in the tournament would be in the Championship game. So if that 75000/1 probability thing happens, be aware of the “Cuonzo Martin and Matt Painter were coached and played together at Purdue” narrative on TBS.

Oklahoma. OU coach Lon Kruger has bounced around the coaching profession for sure. OU is his 6th stop on the college basketball coaching carousel. From 1986–1990, he helmed his alma mater Kansas State. Krugs had some moves too, he was the 2-time Big-8 Player of the Year and went 5–2 vs. OU as a player.

*Providence. Ed “Towel Pants” Cooley didn’t attend Providence as a college student. But he is Providence through and through. He was born and raised in Providence, RI and was the Rhode Island High School player of the year twice. When he was introduced at Providence, he described it as his “dream job”. And by the way no, he didn’t go to Cooley High.

Rhode Island. Bobby’s brother, Dan Hurley is the hot name in coaching circles, and is likely in his last season at Rhode Island. But watch out for a surprise name in the coaching carousel for him. His alma mater, Seton Hall. The Seton Hall job isn’t open you say?! Keep reading.

Seton Hall. Kevin Willard’s job isn’t in jeopardy at all. He is in the midst of back-to-back-to-back tourney appearances for the Pirates, the only time that has happened since the P.J. Carlesimo era. Here’s my thing. Kevin Willard went to Pitt a desperate ACC cellar dweller with a proud basketball history. And according to a 2017 USA Today Database, he makes 1.5 Million a year with Seton Hall. If Pitt was smart they would make a run at him for 4 million a year. Selling point: it’s in a better conference, plus they are having to pay Kevin 0 wins Stallings his FULL 9+MILLION BUYOUT. Might as well keep the money train rollin. (Obviously this won’t happen, as it will take a miracle for Pitt to come out of the ACC cellar, and Kevin Willard likes his job security I’d imagine.)

*Texas Tech. Chris Beard actually is a Texas Longhorn, but was Bob Knight’s associate head coach in Lubbock for 10 years. When he accepted the job at UNLV, just to spurn them days later for Texas Tech, he described Tech as his “dream job”. I’m sure his 25 year reunion in Austin in 2020 won’t be awkward at all.

UCLA. If you don’t know where UCLA coach and opening round loser Steve Alford went to college- and why it’s ironic that he is the head coach at Reggie Miller’s alma mater, go ahead and watch this clip or if you’re feeling lazy, this one.

Breaking it down, the data — for the most part — reflects what we have seen from D’antoni. Passion and commitment. So too for the * guys that are not technically coaching at their alma maters but have strong ties to the schools. Every single one of the coaches coaching for their alma maters has an uncommon longevity at the school (or in the case of Jordan, Dixon, and Decuire — the ability to program- build and have longevity).

Obviously, this is a small sample size and is picking from a pool of coaches that all made the NCAA Tournament this year. Hiring coaches purely because they went to school there is a terrible reason to bring them in. It doesn’t always work out, and as with anything, winning solves all problems and losing magnifies them. Just look at Decuire’s predecessors— who left for greener pastures. Or more recently Kevin Ollie at UConn  –  recently “fired for just cause”. It was only six years ago that Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun hand-picked Ollie to be his successor. And only four years ago that his Kemba Walker-led team hoisted the National Championship Trophy. Again, he was terminated on Saturday and will likely enter a long legal battle with UConn regarding his buyout compensation. So again, it doesn’t always work out with alums coaching.

It’s cool to look at though, and more interesting than I expected. The average tenure of these coaches is longer than most of the others in DI— even among their coaching colleagues in the NCAA Tournament- and we’ll see how many of these guys go far (Note: As of this publishing, the 11 are 1–1.) I’ll repeat it because it’s so fun to say and cool that it’s true. It’s March. It’s the first Thursday of the NCAA Tournament. This really is the most wonderful time of the year.


Kvitova – Venus – US Open Tuesday Night

On Tuesday night, Venus Williams will be facing Petra Kvitova in the Quarterfinals of the 2017 US Open. Both of these women have experienced incredible resurgences and this match is made for prime time.

“Aunt” Venus Wiliams, is 37 years old, a 7-time major champ and all-time great. She’s also the 2nd best tennis player in her family. Since Summer of 2016, Venus has been to 3 Major Semifinals (including 2 Finals this year). She hadn’t been to a Semifinal in a major since 2010 before last year’s Wimbledon. She had been written off as ‘done’ countless times, and her resurgence (similar to Fed and Rafa) has been downright awesome.

Petra Kvitova, the 27-year old 2x Major Champion (2011, 2014 Wimbledons) had been out for more than 6 months after a hand injury caused by a home invader. An unthinkable event, and it’s remarkable that she has been able to come back from that stronger than ever. She struggled in this year’s Wimbledon, having lost to American Madison Brengle in the 2nd Round, but during the US Open, her form has been impeccable. She is the only WTA player in this year’s US Open who has not dropped a set.

Predictive Analysis: CappedSports has the “fair line” for this match at -142 as of this writing. With juice included, according to, Kvitova is -155. So if you bet $155, you get an $100 return. The implied probabilites assigned to those odds are 60.8%. Without proper context, you would think for a resurgent all-time great to be a 3/2 Underdog would represent good value.

HOWEVER, it isn’t in this case. Kvitova’s form has been near flawless, and she has faced great competition in this tournament. The average ranking of the players that she has played in this tournament is 31.5 (and as mentioned, she hasn’t dropped a set! Including a match vs. Wimbledon champ Muguruza).Venus has played well too, but she hasn’t had the form of Kvitova. She has dropped 2 sets in this tournament, including her 1R matchup with 163rd Ranked Viktoria Kuzmova.

Furthermore, Venus is 1-5 against Kvitova, 1-4 on Hard surface. Venus’s agility may present a problem for Petra tonight, but it won’t be enough to overcome her.

Prediction: Kvitova wins, and her 60% implied probabilities present very good value compared to the likelihood of her winning. TAKE KVITOVA -155 and don’t look back. I hate to go against an American in a tournament where so many Americans are killing. But sorry, Aunt Venus, better luck in the ’18 Aussie.

2017 Gonzaga: Fighting Fews Phoenix Bound?

Gonzaga is good.

Gonzaga is really good.

Gonzaga is better than they have ever been, and that is a great compliment; they have been nothing but great in Mark Few’s tenure as head coach.

But to many, the 2017 Gonzaga Bulldogs are frauds: overhyped and overrated due to their impressive record facilitated by their cupcake schedule. To others, they are underhyped and underrated, a truly great team and an undervalued sleeper Championship pick.

So what is this year’s Gonzaga team? A mid-major team with no shot of winning the title, and not battle-tested or good enough to even get to Phoenix? Or truly one of the best teams in the nation and deserving of serious consideration as a National Championship contender?

Let’s first contextualize the Gonzaga program. Mark Few’s Gonzaga Basketball team has been the best ‘Mid-Major’ program of the last 20 years. He is the Leader among ALL Active Coaches with an 81.6% Career Winning Percentage and has gone to the NCAA Tournament in each of his 18 years. But as we all know, he has never been to a Final Four. If the committee isn’t sniffing glue on Selection Sunday, this will be the 2nd Time that Gonzaga will have had the #1-seed. The only other time was in 2013, when they lost in the 2nd Round to the miracle Wichita St. team (underranked as an 8 seed) that made the Final Four that year.

Few reportedly could have left for bigger jobs at Arizona, Oregon, UCLA or USC, but didn’t. He stayed at Gonzaga, a school with a 5,041 Undergraduate student population and 2 NCAA Tournament Appearances under its belt before Few’s hire as Head Coach. Considering that Gonzaga University is in Spokane, Washington –a city otherwise most noteworthy as the Birthplace of Father’s Day – Few has done a helluva job scouting International talent and, more significantly , getting guys to play there. Local legend and noted Diabetic Pornstache McGee stayed in Spokane to play for Few. So did future NBA players Robert Sacre, Kelly Olynyk, Roany Turiaf, Domantas Sabonis and others. Mark Few absolutely deserves the multitude of National Coach of the Year Awards he has been getting this year.

We know the Gonzaga program is Dan Stevens beastly, but is this Gonzaga squad good compared to the others? An emphatic Yes. At 32-1, this year’s squad is the best that Mark Few has had to date, on paper and in practice. The Zags average 84.6 PPG, 8th in the Nation and allow 61.2 PPG, 7th in the Nation. Did you guess that they have the #1 point differential in the nation? Good job, buddy, you’re right. Gonzaga’s average scoring margin per game is best in the nation, a full 4.1 points ahead of #2, Wichita State. John Stockton and his short shorts would be proud. Moreover, The Zags have the necessary components to make a deep NCAA run. They’re super athletic, have depth (7 of their guys average more than 7.5 PPG, 5 are at 10.0 PPG or more) and length (7 of their guys are 6’8 or taller) and can obviously both score in bunches and defend floor-slappingly well.

The contrarians among you are probably saying, “Ok, that’s cool, guy, but does a team that has a 10 RPI, 100 SOS, and is in the West Coast Conference, the 9th Best Conference in terms of RPI really deserve of a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament? You said it yourself: Few has had 20-win teams and Tournament appearances the last 18 years, but no Final Fours. He’s a great regular season coach, but no proof that he knows what it takes in March to get his team to April.” So, can the Zags get Mark Few to his First Final Four and moreover Gonzaga’s 1st National Championship?

Ok, let’s get this out of the way: this special Zags team deserves to be a #1 Seed. Yes, their SOS is 100, but they have gone 6-0 against top-50 RPI teams. Included in which were wins against Arizona (Pac-12 Conference Tournament champ), Iowa State (Big 12 Conference Tourney champ), and Florida, teams all likely to have 4-seeds or better in the bracket. Their only blemish was the surprise loss to BYU, a likely NIT Team with a 65 RPI. That was a bad loss for sure, but other possible #1 Seeds North Carolina and Kansas lost to 76 RPI Indiana. It’s really a dumb, unfair, and biased opinion to think this Zags team doesn’t deserve to be on the topline. You would be asking of them something that only 19 teams have done in the last 79 seasons, go undefeated leading up to the NCAA tournament. Luckily for Gonzaga, this year’s Selection Committee is not as big-Conference-heavy like in years past. Only 5 of the 10 committee members are from top-6 RPI Conferences, so I suspect the Zags will get a #1 seed. If they’re in the bracket as a #2 seed, Howard Dean look-alike and NCAA Selection Committee Chair Mark Hollis must be crazier than this masturbatory piece from the NCAA calling him “The Wizard of Awes”. He wants to be the next President of the NCAA so bad, Bob Knight threatened to kill him because he thought “The Wizard” was Zombie Miles Brand or something. If the Zags aren’t on the top line maybe we should let the Sweater loose (JK LOL).

SOOOO, what chance do the Zags have at getting to the Final Four and winning the title? Let’s begin using their top scoring margin differential as a template. What if any correlation is there between being the top scoring differential team and making the Final Four/National Championship?

Season Diff. Leader +/- Amount How Far?
2016-17 Gonzaga +23.4 ?
2015-16 Michigan St +15.7 1st Round
2014-15 Kentucky +20.1 Final Four
2013-14 Louisville +19.9 Sweet 16
2012-13 Florida +17.0 Elite 8
2011-12 Kentucky +17.0 National Champs
2010-11 Belmont +17.5 1st Round
2009-10 Kansas +17.4 2nd Round
2008-09 UNC +17.1 National Champs
2007-08 Kansas +18.7 National Champs
2006-07 Florida +17.2 National Champs
2005-06 Texas +14.9 Elite 8
2004-05 UNC +17.8 National Champs
2003-04 Gonzaga +15.6 2nd Round
2002-03 Pittsburgh +15.7 Sweet 16
2001-02 Duke +19.7 Sweet 16
2000-01 Duke +20.2 National Champs
1999-00 Stanford +18.5 2nd Round
1998-99 Duke +24.7 National Runner-Up
1997-98 Duke +21.1 Elite 8
All Data Retrieved by Wrong Lines from and

First, what a +/- total for the ’17 Zags. Only 1 other team in last 20 years has had that big of a margin. I remember the Trajan Langden and Elton Brand 1998-99 Duke team well, they beat my alma mater in the 2nd round that year by 41, and Coach K still bitched about his team’s effort!

Second, there is a quite strong correlation between top +/- teams and winning the National Title. 6 of these 19 teams prior to the Zags won the title. That’s a 32% rate at which the top differential team has gone home as Champs. 8 of 19 or 42% have gotten to the Final Four at least. And apart from 2011 Belmont, each of these teams had high expectations going into the tournament due to their dominance.

This is as good of a measure of any to see not only how good a team is, but also how they play night in and night out. At times vastly superior teams play inferior competition who would not require MAX effort to get beaten, and the Zags didn’t fall into the trap of complacency this year. I really don’t feel like they will just be “happy to be there” until they get to the Final Four. They also have their winningest player of all-time on this roster, Przemik Karnowski, AKA The Mountain. Just as ain’ters gonna ain’t, winners gonna win and the Mountain is a winner through and through.

The Zags have been darling to those who have backed them this year. According to VegasInsider, they went 21-7-1 against the spread, even though they have been favored by double digits in 22 of those 29 games where there was an available line. Although the line will of course be dependent upon who they play, the Zags will be favored between 27 and 30 points in the opening round according to us @Wronglines. As far as Futures, according to BetOnline, the Zags are a 9/1 favorite to win the Title, or have a 10% chance to win according to implied probabilities.

Once the bracket is released, you’ll have a chance to take them to win the West Regional/make the Final Four. Most projected brackets have Arizona as the 2-seed in the West, and due to the lower than deserved opinion of the Zags, and Zona’s recent Pac-12 Conference win, the Wildcats will likely be the more popular pick to win the West Regional. This will probably put Gonzaga at something like 3/2 or 2/1 chances to get to Phoenix (40% & 33.3% per implied probabilities). Despite Few’s March struggles, if Gonzaga is less than a 1/1 Favorite to win the West Regional, take them. This is a nice value play considering the likelihood of it happening.

Gonzaga will certainly have to get through some tough squads to make it to Phoenix, and will be facing constant questions about Few’s regular season aptitude and March ineptness. But they have the tools to get there, are aware of the gravity of this postseason for Few’s legacy, and as their ATS performance and point differential show you, they are up for the challenge and won’t beat themselves. I don’t typically get into Title futures at this point, but take a ¼ U flier on the Zags to win the Title at +900 ($25 yields $225). On paper, they are one of the best 5 teams in the nation, but the implied probabilities state they only have an equal chance as the other top-10 teams in the field. This screams UNDERVALUE as a National Title contender.

The Zags kept the pedal to the medal all year, have heard all the discussions about their weaknesses as a smaller Conference school, and they will be motivated to prove the haters wrong. I am very likely going to take them to win the West Region when the bracket comes out. Few’s Bulldogs are ample enough to make the Final Four, and are about 15-18% likely to win the title, according to us @Wronglines. Those who state that Gonzaga has no business being a 1, have little to no chance of making the Final Four, and have absolutely no shot at the National Title need run a check on themselves. (AND FOLLOW @WRONGLINES & OUR CAPPEDIN PAGE TO GET SOME KNOWLEDGE!)

Keep following this blog, our Twitter @Wronglines, and our CappedIn Page for more predictions and proven sound analysis. More content coming soon!

American Athletic Conference Tournament Preview

The American Athletic Conference Tournament begins Thursday March 9th in Hartford, Connecticut. The Championship game will be at 3:15 PM Eastern time on Selection Sunday, March 12th and be aired on ESPN.

Last year the AAC was a 4-bid league: Temple, Cincinnati, Connecticut, and Tulsa all participated in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. Had SMU not been banned, they would have likely been a tourney team last year, too (although there is an argument to be made that maybe Tulsa would not have made it had SMU been eligible). Barring a miracle in the AAC tournament (and by miracle, I mean any of these would need to win the AAC tournament – they each have a 0% chance of getting at-large bids) Temple, UConn, and TU all miss the tourney this year.

As of Friday March 3rd, ESPN’s Bracketology, CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm, and USA Today all have consensus that AAC is going to be a 2-bid league, with Cincinnati and SMU being locks to make the tournament. Knowledgable observers of the conference this year would agree, and Houston and UCF are deservedly on the bubble in solid territory to make the NIT. Joe Lunardi of ESPN’s Bracketology has Houston in the group of the “Next Four Out”, meaning the Cougars, are 5-8 slots away from getting an at-large bid in the 2017 NCAA Tournament. Even though Kelvin Sampson’s Houston team has a 51 RPI compared to UCF’s 77, I personally view UCF as an even if not slightly better squad than Houston right now. After all, they do have TACKO FALL WHO IS 7’6 AND LOOKS LIKE A COMBINATION OF STEVE URKEL AND GHEORGE MURESAN , and have won 5 in a row including a defensive struggle over Cincinnati. If either UCF or Houston expects to get in the tourney this year though, they’ll need to help themselves, ALOT.

The AAC has released very nice “Road to Hartford” 1-sheeter projecting the AAC Tournament schedule as if the season ended today. There are multiple possibilities for seeding in the lower rungs of the conference, but most significantly, Houston will keep the 3-seed (and 1st Round Bye/guarantee to play the 6 or 11 seed in the QFs instead of 5-seed) if they beat ECU on Sunday. (ViewBook: @Wronglines projects they will be around an 11.5 pt favorite on Sunday and may provide a good opportunity as they have something to play for, are at home, and are the vastly superior squad.)

Question 1: Is there any scenario in which anyone other than SMU or Cincinnati gets an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament? I say no. We can immediately rule UCF out, as they are not viewed at all as a bubble team. With Houston as one of Lunardi’s Next Four Out, lets shift the conversation to them. The best case scenario for their at-large chances is them killing ECU Sunday (probable in my view), UConn or whomever they get in the QFs (less likely), to beating 2-seeded Cincinnati in the Semis (even less likely), and then losing ‘impressively’ to SMU in the Conference Finals (least likely, Houston’s Ls to SMU averaged 14.5). I grade that as happening in the 8-12% range. Even if that does happen I don’t see Houston making the tournament as an at-large team. There’s sure to be a shake-up with a bubble team becoming an “in” team, and surprise winners of conference tournaments that kick someone down. The AAC isn’t viewed as as good as a conference as it has the past few years (this year conference RPI .521, last year was .527), Houston’s non-conference Ws (URI & Vermont) are not impressive enough to have the Selection Committee consider them an at-large team.

So since AAC teams not named Cincinnati and SMU won’t get in without a Conference tourney win, that begs Question 2: Can either Houston or UCF (or maybe notoriously sneaky hosting team UConn) get hot enough to win the AAC tourney and turn the league into a 3-bid conference? It’s certainly possible. As mentioned, UCF did beat Cincinnati, and Fall is a matchup problem for anyone. Houston has gone 0-4 against Cincinnati and SMU, whom they will presumably have to run through to steal the AAC Championship. Houston does have an excellent 39.4% 3pt Shooting Percentage (2nd best in AAC to SMU), however, can score in bunches, and have a great defense. As they say, it’s hard to beat a team 3x in a season and anything can happen any given day, so we can’t 100% rule out a potential upset in the AAC Tournament. But I don’t see it happening, I like Cincinnati to win the AAC Tournament. Mick Cronin’s Bearcats are motivated to play their hardest, and have the talent to get far in the NCAA Tournament. And considering Cronin’s recent comments on the flaws of the NCAA Selection Committee’s Seeding and Geographical Placement of teams, I feel his squad will work very hard to put themselves in the best possible position in the NCAA Tournament.

That’s our American Athletic Conference Tournament Preview, check out the WordPress soon for further Previews. Always check out @WrongLines and WrongLines’ CappedIn Page for super sound predictive consultations.