Basketball helps propel American to great first year

There may not have been a happier and prouder person on the court after the game than AAC commissioner Mike Aresco. He was beaming with joy over the Connecticut Huskies' 60-54 national championship win over Kentucky.

Basketball season has been very good to the new league.  It now has the champion in men's basketball and will see UConn's women try for the women's title tomorrow night against Notre Dame.  If they are successful, it will be the second double title for UConn, which also accomplished that feat in 2004.

The league also performed well in the NIT.  SMU, which many feel was the first team left out of the NCAA Tournament, finished as the runner-up to Minnesota in the men's NIT.  Rutgers won the women's NIT by beating UTEP.

Heck, even football season was good to the league. UCF was a blowout winner in the Fiesta Bowl over Baylor.

Not a bad start for a fledgling league, which is still in some flux.  Louisville (ACC) and Rutgers (Big Ten) will be leaving and will be replaced by East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa, the C-USA men's basketball champion.

Aresco thinks that it's important that the league got off to such a good start in its first year.  He says, "it will help us recruit better coaches, and help those coaches recruit better players."

He was asked about how he feels about the fact that his league isn't one of the "Power Five," but still had such success and he said, "tell that to these guys (UConn). Tell that to UCF. I'll let others be the judge of that."

Whether this league is ever considered to be of the same caliber with the five major conferences remains to be seen, but a start like this can't hurt.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Jerry Palm started writing about sports on the Internet right after Al Gore invented it. He was the first to bring RPI out in the open and is one of the pioneers of predicting the March Madness bracket.... Full Bio

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