College Basketball: 2013-14 American Preview

Get the Athlon Sports Newsletter

Memphis, UConn hope to challege the defending national champs

College Basketball: 2013-14 American Preview

As the 2013-14 season begins, Louisville will hope for the same results despite a new look.

Of course, one new look will be the surroundings of Memphis, Temple and a pair of Texas schools replacing the old Big East. The other new look will be at key positions at point guard and center where Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng depart the Cardinals.

Those are major losses for Louisville, but Rick Pitino has plenty of returning pieces to make another run at the national title. The Cardinals are the runaway favorite for the new American Athletic Conference, but they’ll have more speed bumps than the football program.

Memphis had its best season under Josh Pastner last season, and the Tigers have been waiting for years to show they can compete with teams like Louisville and Connecticut on a regular basis. After a postseason ban, UConn has the backcourt talent to return to the NCAA Tournament under Kevin Ollie.

But the true depth of the league will be determined by the dormant ex-Conference USA/ex-Southwest Conference programs from Texas. Houston and SMU have been building for this moment for several years, stocking up on key transfers and freshmen.

American Predicted Order of Finish

ALL-AAC FIRST TEAM
G Shabazz Napier, Connecticut
G Joe Jackson, Memphis
G Russ Smith, Louisville
G/F Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati
F Montrezl Harrell, Louisville

ALL-AAC SECOND TEAM
G Ryan Boatright, Connecticut
G Geron Johnson, Memphis
G Isaiah Sykes, UCF
F Chane Behanan, Louisville
F TaShawn Thomas, Houston

ALL-AAC THIRD TEAM
G Chris Jones, Louisville
G Danuel House , Houston
G Jalen Jones, SMU
G Myles Mack, Rutgers
F DeAndre Daniels, Connecticut
1. LOUISVILLE (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA runner up
The defending national champions are just as talented and deep as last season. A third straight Final Four is in the offing.

2. MEMPHIS (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Round of 32
With three veteran guards returning and a loaded recruiting class, Josh Pastner could finally make noise in March.

3. CONNECTICUT(team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Round of 32
The Huskies surprised last season despite their postseason ban, and Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright are both back.

4. CINCINNATI (team preview)
Postseason prediction:
NCAA Round of 64
Sean Kilpatrick will have to carry the Bearcats offensively at times, but frosh Jermaine Lawrence will make an impact.

5. SMU
Postseason prediction:
NIT
All five starters are back, and they’ll be joined by an outstanding crop of newcomers.

6. TEMPLE
Postseason prediction:
NIT
Khalif Wyatt is going to be difficult to replace, but Fran Dunphy-coached teams always find ways to win.

7. UCF
Remember the name Isiah Sykes. He's one of the best in the league, and one of four starters back for the Knights.

8. RUTGERS
It was a tumultuous offseason for the Scarlet Knights, but that doesn't mean the roster is devoid of talent.

9. HOUSTON
Raise your hand if you knew the Cougars won 20 games last season. A tougher league means that won't happen again.

10. USF
The Bulls were a massive disappointment last season, but Anthony Collins is back to run the show.

AMERICAN AWARDS
Player of the Year: Russ Smith, Louisville
Smith struggled in the Final Four, but he returns after making a major improvement last season. As he was used in the offense more, Smith’s field goal percentage went form 35.6 percent to 41.4 percent.

Best Defensive Player: Geron Johnson, Memphis
The junior college transfer instantly upgraded Memphis in the defensive end with his work on the perimeter.

Most Underrated Player: Anthony Lee, Temple
Lee will need to be underrated no more as the Owls lose a ton from last year’s team. Lee averaged 9.8 points and 6.8 rebounds in 23.8 minutes.

Newcomer of the Year: Chris Jones, Louisville (full list of key newcomers around the AAC)
A dogged defender, Jones steps into an unenviable spot replacing veteran Peyton Siva. He’ll be one of the key cogs in Louisville’s bid to repeat.

Top coach: Rick Pitino, Louisville (full AAC coach rankings)

Coach on the hot seat: Stan Heath, USF (full hot seat list)

Exclude From Games: 
Include In Games

Home Page Infinite Scroll Left