Men's Basketball: 20 things you need to know for the American tourney

Shonn Miller goes to the rim during UConn's victory over UCF at Gampel Pavilion on March 6, 2016. Miller is averaging a team high 12.3 points per game. (Bailey Wright/The Daily Campus)

The American Athletic Conference men’s basketball tournament begins Thursday afternoon in Orlando, Florida.

The American tournament this year is probably the most wide open out of any other conference in the country. All year, it has been up and down with no real clear-cut favorite, and that remains the same heading into this weekend.

Temple (14-4) finished as the No. 1 seed, Houston (12-6) is the No. 2 seed and Tulsa (12-6) is the No. 3 seed, Cincinnati (12-6) is the No. 4 seed, UConn (11-7) is the No. 5 seed and Memphis (8-10) is the No. 6 seed. Any one of those teams could come out as the conference champion on Sunday.

Here are 20 things you need to know:

1. Houston sophomore Rob Gray Jr. led the conference in scoring with 16.3 points per game. The Cougars will play the winner of Tulane/UCF in the quarterfinals.

2. SMU finished the regular season in second place (13-5) but they will not participate in any postseason play due to NCAA violations.

3. UConn leads the conference in field goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to shoot just 38 percent from the field.

4. Tacko Fall, Central Florida’s 7-foot-6-inch freshman center, leads the conference with a 76 percent shooting percentage. He was 94 of 124 from the field (most of them were probably dunks).

5. Temple led the conference in three-pointers made with 237 (7.9 per game).

6. Temple and Houston both ended the regular season on three-game winning streaks. No one else had a winning streak more than one game.

7. UConn leads the American in free-throw percentage, shooting 77.8 percent. The Huskies rank second in the nation in free throws, trailing just Villanova.

SMU's Nic Moore (11) shoots over Cincinnati's Kevin Johnson (25) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, March 6, 2016, in Cincinnati. Cincinnati won 61-54. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

8. SMU’s Nic Moore and Tulsa’s Pat Birt led the conference in three-pointers made (76). Tulsa’s James Woodard and Memphis’ Avery Woodson came in second (75).

9. Memphis’ Dedric Lawson led the league in rebound with 9.2 per game. Cincinnati’s Gary Clark wasn’t far behind in second place with 8.9 per game.

10. UConn had four players finish scoring in double figures: Shonn Miller (12.6), Rodney Purvis (12.6), Sterling Gibbs (12) and Daniel Hamilton (11.6).

11. Houston led the league in scoring offense this year with 78.2 points per game.

12. Nic Moore (SMU), James Woodard (Tulsa), Quenton DeCosey (Temple), Shaq Goodwin (Memphis) and Troy Caupain (Cincinnati) were all named to the American first-team.

13. The most points scored by a player in the American this year was Shaq Goodwin (Memphis), who scored 35 against Central Florida on Jan. 26, 2016.

14. The most points a team in the conference scored was Houston. The Cougars scored 110 against Prairie View A&M on Nov. 18, 2015.

15. The most three-pointers made in a game was seven by three different players: Shake Milton (SMU), Pat Birt (Tulsa) and Devin Coleman (Temple).

16. UConn’s longest winning streak this season was five games (Dec. 12 - Jan. 2). After that, the Huskies wouldn’t get a longer win streak than three games.

17. The first games of the tournament will take place on Thursday. South Florida plays East Carolina at 3:30 p.m. and Tulane takes on Central Florida at 6 p.m.

Cincinnati's Gary Clark (11) and Troy Caupain (10) encourage each other during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Connecticut, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)

18. Cincinnati ranks seventh in the country in scoring defense (61.5 points per game). The Bearcats take on the Huskies in the quarterfinals on Thursday at 2 p.m.

19. South Florida ranks 334 out of 346 college basketball teams in scoring offense (63 points per game).

20. Last year’s NCAA tournament saw two teams from the American in it. How many will make it this year? Stay tuned. 


Matt Zampini is the sports editor for The Daily Campus, covering men's basketball. He can be reached via email at matthew.zampini@uconn.edu. He tweets@Mattt_Zamp.