Kendric Davis, Memphis Tigers, AAC Tournament preview

CBB Review prepares you for every conference tournament leading up to Selection Sunday. Up next: The AAC Tournament.

Two teams come into the AAC Tournament as locks for March Madness. Can anyone else join Houston and Memphis? They’d have to win the conference, but it could happen.

2023 AAC Conference Awards

Player of the Year: Kendric Davis, Memphis

Freshman of the Year: Taylor Hendricks, UCF

Transfer of the Year: Jaykwon Walton, Wichita State

Coach of the Year: Kelvin Sampson, Houston

First Team:

  • G: Kendric Davis, Memphis (21.5 PPG, 5.6 APG, 3.7 RPG, 2.1 SPG)
  • G: Jalen Cook, Tulane (20.4 PPG, 5.0 APG, 2.9 RPG, 1.9 SPG)
  • G: Marcus Sasser, Houston (17.1 PPG, 3.3 APG, 2.8 RPG, 1.7 SPG, 38.2 3P%)
  • F: DeAndre Williams, Memphis (17.0 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.5 SPG, 1.0 BPG)
  • F: Taylor Hendricks, UCF (15.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.7 BPG)

Second Team:

  • G: Jaylen Forbes, Tulane (18.8 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.8 APG, 2.1 SPG)
  • G: Tyler Harris, USF (16.6 PPG, 3.4 APG, 2.7 RPG, 0.9 SPG)
  • G: David DeJulius, Cincinnati (15.1 PPG, 5.4 APG, 2.2 RPG, 1.1 SPG)
  • F: Kevin Cross, Tulane (14.6 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 4.2 APG)
  • F: J’wan Roberts, Houston (10.5 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.0 APG, 1.3 BPG)

AAC Tournament Simulation

First Round – Thursday, Mar. 9

8. South Florida (14-17, 7-11) vs. 9. East Carolina (15-16, 6-12) –Β  12:30 p.m. on ESPNU

USF won both its matchups against the Pirates in the regular season. With the ability to lean on Tyler Harris’s playmaking ability, the Bulls show up with another guard putting up double-digits and making sure Russel Tchewa got his touches. The Pirates had a nice streak, but I don’t think they can beat the Bulls in this matchup.

Jason’s Pick: 8. USF

7. UCF (17-13, 8-10) vs. 10. SMU (10-21, 5-13) –Β  2:30 p.m. on ESPNU

The Knights beat SMU in their lone matchup. The inconsistent play of the Mustangs has been prevalent throughout the season, while UCF has had steady play from its impressive freshman Taylor Hendricks. With his ability to play inside and out, Hendricks also creates shots for his guards, who can get hot from the outside. These guards include Ithiel Horton, Jahmir Young, and C.J. Kelly.

Jason’s Pick: 7. UCF

6. Wichita State (16-14, 9-9) vs. 11. TulsaΒ  (5-24, 1-17) – 7 p.m. on ESPNU

This Wichita State team beat the Golden Hurricane in both conference matchups. The Shockers are a very different team than they were when they last matched up with Tulsa. This team is playing very well down the stretch. Porter and Rojas are on a mission and do not want their season to end. Wichita State won 3-of-5 at the end of its season. These losses came barely to Memphis by five points and then to Houston. Jaykwon Walton should be returning for the tournament as he has been dealing with illness.

Jason’s Pick: 6. Wichita State

Quarterfinals – Friday, Mar. 10

8. South Florida vs 1. Houston (29-2, 17-1) – 1 p.m. on ESPN2

This could potentially upset Houston, as the Bulls gave one of its most competitive games to the Cougars. The Bulls forced the issue by going after Houston’s defense and getting to the free throw line, and Harris went off offensively, matching Sasser’s 31 points. This could be a good matchup, but the confidence and balance of the Cougars should allow them to pull off the win again. Houston’s improved free throw shooting will be a massive benefit in the tournament.

Jason’s Pick: 1. Houston

4. Cincinnati (20-11, 11-7) vs. 5. Temple (16-15, 11-7) – 3 p.m. on ESPN2

These two teams split, each winning at home. The Bearcats had to go overtime at home to take down Temple. The Owls are a team that gives everyone a good game but plays to its competition. Temple’s Khalif Battle has not been with the program since the team’s loss to Wichita State, and Coach McKie has responded by playing competitively. This is an actual toss-up, but I feel the changes for the Owl’s will be too much.

Jason’s Pick: 4. Cincinnati

2. Memphis (23-8, 13-5) vs. 7. UCF – 7 p.m. on ESPNU

These two teams split wins in their matchups, both winning at home. Both teams have gone through some changes. The loss of Keonte Kennedy could leave the Tigers just short. This will be a must-watch game, with the potential for an upset. Coach Hardaway has all the talent on his team and will want to take another shot at Houston.

Jason’s Pick: 2. Memphis

3. Tulane (19-10, 12-6) vs. 6. Wichita State – 9 p.m. on ESPNU

Another must-watch game! Both of these teams won on the road in conference play. However, Tulane had a negative slide, while Wichita State seemed to trend to tournament play. I believe having an additional game to play ahead of Tulane helps Wichita State, as it will have been played here the day before. Having the opportunity to improve offensively, the Shockers have been making 3-pointers that they were missing early in the season. This is tough to choose, but I am taking the upset here and trusting in the Shockers to play spoiler to Tulane.

Jason’s Pick: 6. Wichita State

Semifinals – Saturday, Mar. 11

1. Houston vs. 4. Cincinnati – 3 p.m. on ESPN2

Houston cruised to a win in the first matchup but had to battle back in the second half to win on the road against the Bearcats. The Cougars played a solid game as Cincinnati relied on 3-pointers to win. Falling short, the Bearcats must play a perfect game to take down Coach Sampson’s squad.

Jason’s Pick: 1. Houston

2. Memphis vs. 6. Wichita State – 5 p.m. on ESPN2

The Tigers beat Wichita State in both matchups but got all it could handle at home. Coach Hardaway and his players’ athletic ability and talent are on a different level than the Shockers. Davis can take over whenever Williams is everything Wichita State’s big men will be able to handle. McCadden has stepped up with Kennedy being done for the season, and the return of Alex Lomax has boosted this offense. Franklin has been another player off the bench in the last few games as he continues to get more playing time with Kennedy out. The Shockers will need to get Memphis in foul trouble and have good ball movement to win this game.

Jason’s Pick: 2. Memphis

Championship – Sunday, Mar. 12

1. Houston vs. 2. Memphis – 3:15 p.m. on ESPN

Another fun game. Houston is number one for a reason. The Tigers entered Houston players to get to the free-throw line. J’Wan Roberts had an off-game, as he did not even attempt a shot. Houston has a more consistent play on both ends of the court, and it can be suffocating. With Coach Sampson preparing for the NCAA Tournament, I expect him to experiment a little in this game. Cougars are not only regular season champions but also conference champions. A beautiful farewell as Houston will end its AAC record with a championship.

Jason’s Pick: 1. Houston