Cincinnati Still Staying in Ohio

Cincinnati Bearcats Men's College Basketball Cashmere Wright

Cincinnati Still Staying in Ohio

A year ago Cincinnati started off with a 15-0 record. Part of the reason for that early success was due to the fact that they only left the state of Ohio one time prior to conference play. Most expected the Bearcats to crumble under the tough Big East slate, but they finished with an 11-7 record. Those early road tests in conference play did prove to be troublesome as they lost at Villanova, Syracuse and Notre Dame in a seven day stretch. In the end, the system worked as Cincinnati made their first NCAA Tournament since 2005.

For Big East teams, especially those who have quite a ways to travel for any road conference game, it is very understandable to have an easy non-conference schedule. The Big East will provide plenty of tough tests and big wins. And if the system is not broken, why fix it. The problem is the Bearcats may have to go 11-7 or at least 10-8 in conference play if they want to return to the NCAA Tournament. The non-conference schedule is that easy. Even the games that sound hard will likely be bad losses in the end.

After six straight cupcakes at the friendly confines of my bank (Fifth Third Arena), UC takes their only out of state trip on December 2nd. And this trip was not even scheduled by the powers that be at Cincinnati. The Bearcats head to Georgia as part of the Big East-SEC Challenge. A trip to Georgia may sound tough since the Bulldogs made the NCAA Tournament a year ago, but this is a shell of the team Coach Mark Fox had last year. The next game, eight days later, the Bearcats make another road trip, across town to take on Xavier. That is the premiere game on the Bearcats schedule. The other road trip is up state to Dayton to take on Wright State. The only other big named team on the slate is Oklahoma, but they are little better, if any better, than Georgia.

Xavier is certainly a losable game, but Cincinnati should be 12-1 heading into conference play. Their first conference game…a road trip to Pittsburgh on New Year’s Day. That might not be pretty after two months of cupcakes. However, Coach Mick Cronin and company just need to steal a road win or two in conference play and beat the teams they should beat at home and they will make it back to the NCAA Tournament. With winnable games at St. John’s, Rutgers and USF, along with the fact that this is a good team that can steal a win away from anybody on any given day, the Bearcats should not have a problem reaching the NCAA Tournament even if there is only one quality game on the schedule prior to the first of the year.


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