With the American Athletic Conference Championship set to kick off Thursday at the XL Center in Hartford, here’s a quick glance at each of the teams trying to become this year’s American Athletic Conference Tournament champion. Teams are ordered by seeding.
No. 1 SMU
Record: 27-4, 17-1 The American
First tournament game: Friday, March 10 vs. winner of Temple vs. East Carolina at 2 p.m.
Leading scorer: Semi Ojeleye, a power forward that transferred from Duke, leads SMU with 18.5 points per game. He’s a formidable scorer in the paint and also shoots 43 percent from 3-point range.
No. 2 Cincinnati
Record: 27-4, 16-2 The American
First tournament game: Friday, March 10 vs. winner of Tulsa vs. Tulane at 7 p.m.
Leading scorer: Guard Jacob Evans leads the Bearcats with 13.4 points per game, while transfer forward Kyle Washington sits right behind 13.3 points per game. Gary Clark also averages double digits in scoring
No. 3 Houston
Record: 21-9, 12-6 The American
First tournament game: Friday, March 10 vs. winner of UConn vs. Tulane at 9 p.m.
Leading scorer: Rob Gray averages 20.3 points per game to lead the American, with teammate Damyean Dotson not far behind at 17.4 points per game.
No. 4 UCF
Record: 20-10, 11-7 The American
First tournament game: Friday, March 10 vs. No. 5 Memphis at 2 p.m.
Leading scorer: B.J. Taylor, who was recently named to the All-Conference Second Team, leads the way for the Knights with 17.2 points per game. He ranks fifth in the conference in points per game, and helped UCF end their season on a five-game win streak with a 17-point performance against USF.
No. 5 Memphis
Record: 19-12, 9-9 The American
First tournament game: Friday, March 10 vs. No. 4 UCF at 2 p.m.
Leading scorer: First Team All-Conference selection Dedric Lawson nearly averages a double-double, with 19.4 points per game and 9.9 rebounds per game. After being named last year’s conference Rookie of the Year, he sits second in the conference in points per game behind Houston’s Rob Gray.
No. 6 UConn
Record: 14-16, 9-9 The American
First tournament game: Thursday, March 9 vs. No. 11 USF at 8 p.m.
Leading scorer: Jalen Adams is atop UConn’s scoring list, averaging 14.1 points per game despite battling a bad ankle. Adams was named to the First Team All-Conference for the first time in his career, and sits ninth overall in the conference in scoring.
No. 7 Tulsa
Record: 14-16, 8-10 the American
First tournament game: Thursday at 6:00 p.m. vs No. 10 Tulane
Leading scorer: Forward Junior Etou leads the Golden Hurricane in scoring with a modest 12.8 points per game. No other Tulsa player averaged double digits for the season. Etou, who transferred from Rutgers last year, is quite the all-around scorer, shooting 44 percent from three and 49.6 percent from the field this season.
No. 8 Temple
Record: 16-15, 7-11 the American
First tournament game: Thursday at 3:30 p.m. vs No. 9 East Carolina
Leading scorer: Shizz Alton Jr. leads the way for the Temple Owls, scoring 14.0 points per game. Alton Jr. isn’t the most efficient scorer, shooting just under 41 percent from the field and under 35 percent from three, but he finds his teammates well, averaging just over four assists per game.
No. 9 East Carolina
Record: 14-17, 6-12 the American
First tournament game: Thursday at 3:30 p.m. vs No. 8 Temple
Leading scorer: The Pirates are led in scoring by sophomore guard/forward Kentrell Barkley, who averages 12.4 points per game and 7.5 rebounds per game, an impressive number for someone who stands at just 6-foot-5.
No. 10 Tulane
Record: 6-24, 3-15 the American
First tournament game: Thursday at 6 p.m. vs No. 7 Tulsa
Leading scorer: Cameron Reynolds leads the Green Wave with 17 points per game and also does a good job on the boards, averaging 6.7 per game. He also shoots it well from deep, shooting 39 percent from beyond the arc this season. Melvin Frazier and Malik Morgan, averaging 11.4 and 10.1 points per game respectively, are also serviceable scoring options for the Green Wave.
No. 11 South Florida
Record: 7-27, 1-17 the American
First tournament game: Thursday at 8 p.m. against No. 6 UConn
Leading scorer: Geno Thorpe leads the lowly Bulls with 14.8 points per game and Tulia da Silva averages a team-best 6.8 rebounds per contest. USF averages just 64.8 points per game and hasn’t won a conference game since a 64-57 win over East Carolina on Feb. 11.