Memphis the favorite to host the AAC Men’s Hoops: ESPN could give the AAC a prime slot

The Fed Ex Forum in Memphis looks like the leader to host the first ever AAC Men’s basketball tournament. (Photo: Fed Ex Forum)

Gone in the divorce between the Big East and newly minted American Athletic Conference is the men’s basketball tournament held each year at Madison Square Garden. The Big East will be playing their tournament at MSG for years to come.

Meanwhile, the AAC has a short list of candidates to host their first ever men’s and women’s conference tournament next March. The two names at the top of the list are Memphis and the Mohegan Sun resort in Connecticut.

Memphis, Fed Ex Forun, has lots of experience as a host venue. They played host to C-USA tournament six times and are the home to the NBA Memphis Grizzlies.  The city is being reported by a number of media outlets as the real front runner for the AAC Men’s Tournament.

Time to get ready for a trip to Graceland, catch some Jazz on Beal Street and have some good food over at Central BBQ.

Mohegan Sun resort, home to the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun is making a big push for both the men’s and the wonen’s tournaments.  The women’s tournament is more likely end up at the Mohegan Sun resort or Hartford’s XL Center because of the large women’s basketball following in the state of Connecticut. Central Florida may still have a chance as the host the event but it looks slim at the moment.

Just in case you think that holding a conference tournament at a casino could be an issue don’t forget the Pac-12 this year held its men’s tournament at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, one of four conference tournaments held in Vegas. Atlantic City, N.J., has also hosted the Atlantic 10 tournament in Boardwalk Hall, which sits among a strip of casinos.

The Sun currently hosts the annual Hall of Fame Tip Off tournament, has hosted other NCAA games and serves as the site for the state high school basketball championships.

In related news….

The AAC television partner ESPN has been in talks with the conference for a plum tournament week time slot. While nothing is set yet multiple reports have the conference and the network looking at a 6 p.m. ET tip off on Saturday of championship week and that it will likely be shown on ESPN.

Should the conference and the network be able to pull that off it would be a big coup for the AAC. In years past the Pac 12 and Big 12 finals have aired in that time slot.  AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco has a very strong TV background and plenty of friends in the business so getting the conference a prime spot is something is very capable of doing.