Spring preview 2019: American Athletic Conference

SMU's Noah Goodwin (USGA/Chris Keane)

Spring preview 2019: American Athletic Conference

College

Spring preview 2019: American Athletic Conference

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As the college golf season gets ready to resume, Golfweek will preview each automatic-qualifier conference in Division I, offering picks to win, midseason All-Conference teams and more.

All of our conference previews will reside here.

First up: American Athletic Conference

Note: All rankings are via the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings

• • •

Men

Conference championship: April 21-23, Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead), Palm Harbor, Fla.

Defending champion: South Florida

Team rankings: SMU (9), South Florida (26), Cincinnati (65), UCF (78), Memphis (92), East Carolina (103), Houston (108), Connecticut (128), Wichita State (155), Temple (161)

Midseason All-Conference team: McClure Meissner, SMU (23); Noah Goodwin, SMU (52); Ollie Osborne, SMU (57); Ben Wong, SMU (72); Albin Bergstrom, South Florida (73)

What to expect: South Florida has boasted a stranglehold on this conference, as it enters 2019 looking for a five-peat. But that grasp may be tenuous. That change is no demerit on the Bulls (they rank roughly around where they did last season), but rather a referendum on the emergence of SMU. The Mustangs were always expected to make a jump after their vaunted Class of 2018 joined in, and that’s exactly what’s happened. Three of SMU’s top four players are from that class and in the top 75 in Golfweek’s college rankings, including former top-ranked junior Noah Goodwin. Add in a nice rise of over 100 spots for sophomore McClure Meissner, and it’s no wonder SMU has gone from missing regionals last season to top-10 team this campaign. The Bulls still have the confidence of knowing they are four-time defending conference champions. But with the firepower now at SMU (specifically the four top-ranked players in the conference), expect the Mustangs to dethrone the champs.

Pick to win: SMU

• • •

Women

Conference championship: April 14-16, Hammock Beach Resort (Conservatory), Palm Coast, Fla.

Defending champion: Houston

Team rankings: SMU (54), Houston (56), Memphis (58), UCF (62), East Carolina (68), Tulsa (81), South Florida (91), Tulane (93), Wichita State (127), Cincinnati (144)

Midseason All-Conference team: Leonie Harm, Houston (69); Elizabeth Moon, UCF (82); Hannah Screen, Houston (100); Lorena Tseng, Tulsa (104); Michaela Fletcher, Memphis (132)

What to expect: Houston ran away with a 14-shot victory last year for its second conference title in three years. The Cougars should face a stiffer challenge in 2019 as the program is bunched in a tight group of three for top-ranked squad in the conference. SMU is winning that battle at the moment, with Houston close behind as well as Memphis. UCF and East Carolina are also within striking distance. Really, this one could go many ways. But the Cougars have the winning experience and an accomplished senior leader in Leonie Harm pacing them. That may very well be the difference in facilitating a repeat.

Pick to win: Houston

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