UConn can take step towards first-round AAC tournament bye with win at East Carolina

(AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

(WTNH)–It’s not the loftiest of goals, but after an injury-riddled season that has seen players dropping like bumblebees, at least it would mean a day off.

And one less hurdle to clear on a harrowing path to the NCAA Tournament.

On Wednesday, the Huskies will take on East Carolina in Greenville, hoping to take a step towards a first-round bye in the AAC Tournament, which begins on March 9th in Hartford.

UConn currently sits in fifth place at 9-7 in the league, and 14-14 overall. That would be good enough to earn them one day off while the 6 through 11 seeds play for the right to advance to the quarterfinals on March 10th.

Cincinnati's Troy Caupain (10) blocks a shot by Connecticut's Amida Brimah (35) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
UConn’s rematch with Cincinnati next week could go a long way towards determining whether the Huskies get a first-round bye. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

If UConn wins at ECU and beats Cincinnati at home on March 5, the Huskies will clinch a bye. But obviously, beating the Bearcats (25-4, 14-2/AAC) won’t be an easy task. UConn was outclassed, 82-68, in its earlier meeting at Cincinnati.

Memphis and Tulsa, the two teams sitting at 8-8 and one game behind the Huskies in the standings, both finish the season with games against Tulane and first-place SMU, so UConn still might be able to lose to Cincy and keep the bye, assuming SMU takes care of business.

But if either Tulsa or Memphis run the table and UConn loses to the Bearcats, the Huskies will likely be relegated to the sixth seed.

Tulsa owns the tiebreaker over UConn thanks to its head-to-head win in December, and Memphis will most likely earn the tiebreaker if they beat the Mustangs. (You can check out the AAC tiebreaker rules here).

There will be a quiz later.

Whether or not UConn earns a first-round bye in the league tournament, its finish will still represent another disappointing season in conference.

Longtime Huskies fans might have expected that UConn would dominate a league with the likes of Houston, UCF and Tulane, but that just hasn’t happened.

In nearly four full years in the American, UConn has a combined conference record of 42-28. They’ve finished third, fifth, and sixth, though that third-place year also resulted in a national title.

Wherever the Huskies end up this season, they’ll have to win three straight games to get back to the NCAA Tournament.

UConn and ECU tip off at 7 p.m. on Wednesday night in Greenville.

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