The American Athletic Conference starts tournament play this coming week with the winner getting an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on Selection Sunday. Right now, just a few teams from the conference are considered seeds within the tournament brackets, so a number of other squads are hoping to get hot at just the right time of year. It could be March Madness to the fullest as one team could shock the world by winning the AAC Tournament 2017 bracket. Here's a look at the upcoming schedule and details of how to watch this latest edition of the championship tourney.
On Sunday, the AAC wrapped up its regular season schedule. It was "Senior Day" for the Connecticut Huskies at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Connecticut. According to The Hartford Courant, the special day was spoiled by the No. 18 Cincinnati Bearcats who defeated the Huskies 67-47. The trio of Rodney Purvis, Amida Brimah, and Kentan Facey took their home court in Storrs for the final time in their collegiate careers as UCONN suffered its first losing season since 1985-86. Next up will be the AAC tournament at their other home: Hartford's XL Center.
With the loss, UCONN will be a No. 6 seed in the tournament beginning on Thursday with a game against No. 11 South Florida at 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The Huskies will need to win the entire tournament similar to last year's epic run in the American Athletic Conference tourney in order to be added to the brackets for the "Big Dance" next Sunday.
Three other games took place from the conference on Sunday. In one matchup, Temple took down South Florida on their home court 72-60, while Houston downed East Carolina 73-51 and Tulane pulled off an 81-69 upset over Tulsa. On the season, Tulane has just a 6-24 record overall and 3-15 in the conference. However, guard Cameron Reynolds scored 31 points to lead his team to an improbable win for the final game of their season. The Green Wave will be the No. 10 seed in the upcoming AAC Tournament as South Florida had a worse record at just 1-17 in the conference.
Right now, ESPN's Bracketology expert, Joe Lunardi, is projecting that only SMU and Cincinnati will make it into this year's 2017 NCAA Tournament field from the conference. Lunardi has the Mustangs slotted as a No. 5 seed in the West region, while Cincinnati is a No. 5 seed in the South region. However, a third spot could get filled if a team besides one of these two captures the AAC Tournament title. The Connecticut Huskies did just that last season to gain entry to the "Big Dance."
According to CBS Sports, the SMU Mustangs (27-4, 17-1 AAC) will enter as the No. 1 overall seed for this year's tournament, while Cincinnati(27-4, 16-2 AAC) takes the No. 2 seed. Rounding out the top five seeds will be Houston, UCF, and Memphis. These five teams receive a bye into the quarterfinals which begin on Friday, March 10th. The AAC tournament officially tips off on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time with the No. 9 and No. 8 seeds going head-to-head.
AAC Tournament Schedule 2017:Thursday, 3/9 (First round)Game 1: No. 9 East Carolina vs. No. 8 Temple | 3:30 p.m. | ESPNUGame 2: No. 10 Tulane vs. No. 7 Tulsa | 6 p.m. | ESPNewsGame 3: No. 11 South Florida vs. No. 6 Connecticut | 8 p.m. | ESPNews
Friday, 3/10 (Quarterfinals)Game 4: Game 1 winner vs. No. 1 SMU | 12 p.m. | ESPN2Game 5: No. 5 Memphis vs. No. 4 UCF | 2 p.m. | ESPN2Game 6: Game 2 winner vs. No. 2 Cincinnati | 7 p.m. | ESPNUGame 7: Game 3 winner vs. No. 3 Houston | 9 p.m. | ESPNU
Saturday, 3/11 (Semifinals)Game 8: Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner | 3 p.m. | ESPN2Game 9: Game 6 winner vs. Game 7 winner | 5 p.m. | ESPN2
Sunday, 3/12 (Championship)Game 10: Game 8 winner vs. Game 9 winner | 3:15 p.m. | ESPN
This year's AAC Tournament games will be televised by ESPN and its various channels including ESPN2 and ESPNU. Live streaming is available on the WatchESPN website and mobile apps, as well as through the SlingTV subscription service. Viewers can get a free one-week trial of the service which includes ESPN and ESPN2 on its basic channel package, Sling Orange, to watch all of the action over the course of the coming week.
Fans can see a complete AAC Tournament bracket here at CBS Sports to follow along with the matchups as they progress over the coming days.
[Featured Image by Andy Lyons/Getty Images]