AAC tournament Round 1 odds, predictions and NCAA basketball best bets

Mar 13, 2019 |

Four games are on the NCAA basketball betting board for the American Athletic Conference tournament, with the first round tipping off from the FedEx Forum in Memphis Tennessee Thursday. We size up these Round 1 matchups, the AAC betting odds and best bets for the tournament openers.

CONNECTICUT HUSKIES VS SOUTH FLORIDA BULLS

Odds: UConn -1, 133 at FanDuel Sportsbook
Start time: 1 p.m. ET, FedEx Forum, Memphis 
Season Series: 1-1 SU, USF 2-0 ATS, 1-1 O/U

Heading into Thursday’s tournament opener between No. 8 South Florida and No. 9 UConn, the Huskies are holding out hope that standout guard Alterique Gilbert is able to play. Gilbert, who averages almost 13 points per game, missed the season finale with an eye injury and concussion. Connecticut did return backcourt mate Jalen Adams in the finale but hasn’t had this duo healthy together since February 6 – which coincided with the start of a 2-7 SU slump (5-4 ATS) from the Huskies to end the year.

The Bulls could also be without a key contributor and AAC Defensive Player of the Year Laquincy Rideau, who sat the final two games of the regular season with a foot injury. Rideau is not only a solid stopper but scores 13 points and adds 5.5 assists per game.

With scoring power either missing or slowed by injury on both sides, the Under 133 in this AAC Championship opener holds value. Keep a close eye on their status and get the early Over/Under before sharps have their say.

TULANE GREEN WAVE VS MEMPHIS TIGERS 

Odds: Memphis -16.5, 154 at FanDuel Sportsbook
Start Time: 3 p.m. ET FedEx Forum, Memphis
Season Series: MEM 2-0, 1-1 ATS, 2-0 O/U

No. 5 Memphis will have the home-court edge over its opponents in the AAC tournament, and boy will it need it. After missing out on a first-round bye, the Tigers must win four straight games from Thursday to Sunday. That’s not to say this Memphis squad can’t run the table, but it will be an uphill climb.

With that in mind, the Tigers will want to come out strong in their opening-round matchup with No. 12 Tulane. Memphis is one of the most-skilled scoring teams in the country, putting up more than 81 points per game, and does the bulk of that damage in the second half. However, brace for an aggressive game plan right out of the gate in order to build a lead and offer the luxury to rest starters down the stretch.

Penny's guys hung almost 41 points per first half on the scoreboard inside the FedEx Forum this season and that makes Over 41 on Memphis’ first-half team total an enticing play, even more so with the Green Wave ranked 313th in first-half points against in the country.

SMU MUSTANGS VS TULSA GOLDEN HURRICANES

Odds: SMU -1.5, 140.5 at FanDuel Sportsbook
Start Time: 8 p.m. ET FedEx Forum, Memphis
Season Series: SMU 1-0 SU, SMU 1-0 ATS, 1-0 O/U

It’s been a long and trying season for No. 10 Southern Methodist and head coach Tim Jankovich. Not only have the Mustangs been playing from behind since the beginning, due to NCAA sanctions, but injuries have thinned out the SMU roster. 

The Mustangs closed the regular season on a positive note, knocking off South Florida despite really having just five healthy bodies. They played a near perfect game, shooting 58 percent from the field and limiting USF to just 35 percent from the floor, and snapped a four-game losing skid for just their second victory since January 30.

That season-ending road win is as good as it’s going to get for SMU, which will show the wear on its tires in a letdown spot in the AAC opener versus No. 7 Tulsa Thursday. Take the points with the Golden Hurricanes +1.5. 

EAST CAROLINA PIRATES VS WICHITA STATE SHOCKERS 

Odds: WSU -10.5, 139 at FanDuel Sportsbook
Start Time: 10 p.m. ET FedEx Forum, Memphis
Season Series: WSU 2-0 SU, WSU 2-0 ATS, 0-2 O/U

Remember when Wichita State opened the AAC schedule 1-6? Since that season-starting slide, the No. 6 seed Shockers are one of the hottest teams in college hoops, closing the 2019 campaign with a 9-2 SU and 7-3-1 ATS record in their final 11 games.

East Carolina was a victim to that red-hot run, losing 72-55 at WSU on March 5. The Pirates not only lost the game (and their shirts as 14-point underdogs) but also star forward Seth LeDay, who tore his ACL. East Carolina could also be down 6-foot-9 forward Rico Quinton, who sat out the season finale with injury. That left ECU with one available player standing above 6-foot-8.

Wichita State is a big physical team that hits the offensive glass hard, pulling down 10.2 offensive boards per outing and creating additional scoring chances. Those extra buckets will help Shockers bettors get over the -10.5 hump against Thursday’s pointspread. 

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