AAC win totals: ECU, Tulane trending opposite directions
The AAC isn't a Power 5 conference, but it's teeming with talent.
Cincinnati punched a bid to a New Year's Six bowl last season and is projected for another double-digit win campaign under head coach Luke Fickell. Central Florida's always dangerous, while Memphis and Houston could score their way to a conference title.
However, in the win total market, we're zeroed in on a couple of teams down the board. Here's who we're buying and selling this season.
2021 AAC win totals
East Carolina's still lagging in the AAC pecking order, but the program's trending in the right direction.
Head coach Scottie Montgomery posted three consecutive 3-9 seasons in Greensboro before passing the torch to Mike Houston in 2019.
The former James Madison head boss made strides in Year 1, topping Montgomery's mark with a 4-8 campaign. And although the Pirates were outmatched in most contests during 2020, going 3-6, they could've easily finished 5-4 if it weren't for two narrow losses to Navy and Tulsa.
Entering 2021, the roster is intriguing.
Quarterback Holton Ahlers, a former three-star recruit with two full years of experience, returns, as does No. 1 receiver C.J. Johnson, who has 73 catches, 1,313 yards, and 10 touchdown receptions across 21 games. The offensive line allowed more than 2.5 sacks per game in 2020 but will be better with a vast majority of production returning. Defensively, the Pirates bring back 78% of last year's unit.
Head coach Willie Fritz deserves some credit. He took a team that was in the bottom 10 nationally in returning production last season and led the Green Wave to a 6-6 record. Three of those losses came by six points or fewer, while two required overtime.
Fritz is tough to bet against - he's nabbed at least five wins in four straight seasons - but the 2021 schedule's daunting: Nine of Tulane's 11 FBS opponents are expected to go .500 or better, including non-conference dates with Oklahoma (win total of 11), Ole Miss (7.5), and UAB (7.5). The Green Wave also host UCF and Memphis, with road games at Houston and Cincinnati.
Don't be surprised if Tulane takes a step back this fall.
Alex Kolodziej is a betting writer for theScore. Find him on Twitter @AjKolodziej.