This article is part of our Conference Preview series.
Over the past couple of seasons, conference realignment has cooled down. The AAC warmed things up by landing a nice fish in Wichita State, which had dominated the Missouri Valley since Creighton left the conference. The move allows the conference to have an even dozen teams. SMU and Cincinnati will not be able to dominate like last year, when they suffered a combined three conference losses. The conference could conceivably send three teams to the NCAA Tournament with a possible fourth lurking in teams like UCF, Temple, and Connecticut (if the Huskies can stay healthy). The American Athletic may not be able to break into "Tier 1" status, but it isn't far off.
Top Three PlayersGary Clark (F)
The Bearcats are known for their defensive prowess. Over his three seasons in Cincinnati, the 6-foot-8 Clark has typified this defensive stance. He has averaged at least a steal and a block in each season and is a tenacious rebounder to boot. As a junior, Clark provided 10.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.2 blocks. He had seven double-doubles, including 13 points and 11 rebounds in the Jan. 26 win over Xavier in the battle for the Queen City. Clark took more 3-pointers last season than he had in the past, but converted just 28.6 percent from long range. If he can knock down a few more treys, opposing defenses may have to loosen up.
Malik "Shake" Milton (G)
After playing behind or next to players such Nic