The American may get three teams into the NCAA Tournament if they are lucky but even that isn’t looking great. To say that this season has been good for the American, would be a lie but the potential is here for a bid stealer. Wichita State should be on the right side of the bubble, the Shockers are the American Champions, doing it in Isaac Brown’s intern season. Houston didn’t win the league title but they are likely going to be a high seed in the NCAA Tournament. Add in Memphis and SMU as potential bid stealers and all the good has been talked about in the American, so let’s pick some games.
8.South Florida vs. 9.Temple
The 8-9 game will be borderline unwatchable, South Florida is a solid defensive team but can’t score a lot. Temple is a mess, Khalif Battle has been solid but the rest of the team has not been. I guess I’ll go with Temple, they have better scorers on paper.
Prediction: Temple 69 South Florida 65
7.Tulsa vs. 10.Tulane
Ron Hunter had to walk on water last year because Tulane finished last a season ago, that’s not the case this year though as they were slightly better. Tulsa has a solid group of players, with a lot of them playing roles on their American winning team a season ago. I’ll take the Golden Hurricanes to win this game.
Prediction: Tulsa 69 Tulane 58
6.UCF vs 11.East Carolina
East Carolina successfully beat Houston in the craziest result of the season, that’s about all the good for them this year. UCF beat Florida State in another surprising result and they at least were solid this season, going 10-11 on the season. UCF won this matchup a week ago and they will win this one by a larger margin.
Prediction: UCF 71 East Carolina 59
1.Wichita State vs. 9.Temple
The league Champion Shockers have gotten rid of Greg Marshall and have gotten a lot better. The Isaac Brown era has led to a league title, thanks in large part to the great play of Tyson Etienne and Alterique Gilbert. Temple may keep this close for a few minutes but I anticipate a blowout.
Prediction: Wichita State 76 Temple 54
4.SMU vs. 5.Cincinnati
This the worst Cincinnati team in over a decade and probably much longer, yet they’re still the five seed. That’s a major yikes for the American. SMU theoretically is good enough to steal a bid but not playing for a month isn’t ideal. I will roll with SMU but not because they are any good.
Prediction: SMU 62 Cincinnati 57
2.Houston vs. 7.Tulsa
Tulsa has beaten Houston already this season, so they are certainly capable of winning this game or at least keeping close. Houston is the best team in the league, even with Caleb Mills transferring, Quentin Grimes, Marcus Sasser, and Tramon Mark lead a feisty Houston bunch. Give me the Cougars winning a game where they gradually blowout the Golden Hurricanes.
Prediction: Houston 74 Tulsa 55
3.Memphis vs. 6.UCF
The Knights have been alright this season but there’s a major talent difference here. Memphis has built a great rotation of bigs, guards, and wings that theoretically is the most talented team in the league. This one shouldn’t be close, give me Tigers in a runaway.
Prediction: Memphis 80 UCF 66
1.Wichita State vs 4.SMU
The Shockers will be playing SMU for the first time this year due to multiple covid breaks. Wichita State should have an advantage due to SMU still likely not being at full strength, which is big for their Tournament chances. At the end of the day, guards win in March and you can’t pick against Tyson Etienne and Alterique Gilbert, especially in a win and you’re in type game.
Prediction: Wichita State 76 SMU 67
2.Houston vs 3.Memphis
Can we get another game like we had a week ago? That game was awesome and another one like that should be great to watch. Houston always tries to hammer teams on the boards but I’m not convinced that works against Memphis’ length. Winning will come down to guard play and defense. Normally that would favor the Cougars but I have a feeling that Memphis will have a different level of intensity in this one. Give me Tigers in an upset.
Prediction: Memphis 66 Houston 62
1.Wichita State vs. 3.Memphis
This is a battle of two teams that should be on the right side of the bubble if the matchup is set as predicted. Memphis will try to dominate this game with length and athleticism, while Wichita State has a guard advantage. I anticipate a low-scoring highly competitive game where it should come down to the final few possessions. In the end, I will roll with Memphis, the Tigers are playing great basketball right now and I think the Tigers will make the late-game plays needed to win.
Prediction: Memphis 63 Wichita State 59