Preview: AAC Basketball Conference Openers

By David Brown
Jan. 02, 2019

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Tulane (+22) @ Cincinnati 6:30 CBS Sports Network - As the line would indicate, not many people would expect this game to be close. The Green Wave really have no answer for Jarron Cumberland, but if they want to stay in this game, they'll need to shut him down and force other guys like Kieth Williams and Justin Jenifer to make shots. Tulane has been absolutely abysmal on the boards this year ranking 304 in the nation in rebounding margin compared to Cincinnati who ranks 27th in the nation. I would look for Tre Scott and Nysier Brooks to clean up and get some 2nd chance opportunities. Tulane will probably struggle to get the ball inside, so they will need to get guys like Caleb Daniels, Jordan Cornish, and Kevin Zhang to get hot from three. Cincinnati 77 Tulane 54

Temple (+4.5) @ UCF 7:00 ESPNNEWS - This is probably the most intriguing on the slate. Both teams are projected bubble teams, so I win would be huge either team. Temple gets it done with guard play and defense like always with Fran Dunphy. Shizz Alston can score from any where on the court, but they lack an inside presence, so Tacko Fall could have a huge mismatch and even Collin Smith who is Fall's backup. Throw in BJ Taylor and Aubrey Dawkins and Temple could have some issues tonight. UCF 67 Temple 59

Tulsa (+10.5) @ Houston 8:00 ESPN3 - Tulsa has had a sneaky good start to the season which makes the game a little more interesting than most expected. Obviously, Houston has been really good with Armoni Brooks and Corey Davis Jr. Houston has excelled this year in just about every category, but recently that have been getting off to slow starts. I would be huge for Tulsa to get out to an early lead and settle into the game. Frank Haith is going to try to slow this game down with DaQaun Jefferies and Martins Ignabu. This game will be a lot closer than people expect with Tulsa trying to get on the bubble with a win, but I think a couple late three's from Galen Robinson gives Houston the win. Houston 74 Tulsa 69

East Carolina (+15) @ SMU 8:00 ESPN3 - This is a game that will be a lot closer than most people think. SMU has been pretty inconsistent this year with losses to Bradley, Lipscomb, and Southern Miss. Although they have played a lot better of late, I still think East Carolina could pull of the upset. ECU has the best freshman in the conference in Jayden Gardner and they are going to have the rebounding advantage in this. If they can disrupt Jahmal McMurray, they can throw off the entire SMU offense. However, Ethan Chargois is a real player, who can get it done and I think he comes up big for the Ponies tonight.

UConn (-3) @ South Florida 8:30 CBS Sports Network - The only road favorite of the night is the Huskies who travel to a much improved USF team. The Bulls enter with a record of 10-2 and have already surpassed their win total from last season. They played a very easy non-conference schedule, but this game will be a nice measurement to see how much they have improved. USF is statistically the best rebounding team in the conference with Alexis Yetna averaging 11 boards a game. David Collins has also been a very solid player this year and matches up well against UConn. The Huskies are going to get it done with Jalen Adams, Alterique Gilbert, and Christian Vital. All three have played decent this year, but if you can shut one or two of them down UConn struggles. I think Jalen Adams carries UConn to an ugly win. UConn 61 USF 59