Last night, the 11th ranked Cincinnati Bearcats took care of business in Fifth Third Arena extending their win streak to 15 beating the Central Florida Knights 60-50. Cincinnati’s last loss came against to Butler back in December. I believe this 15 game win streak for the Bearcats is the 3rd longest streak in Division 1 basketball. Also, the Bearcats are riding on a 23 home game winning streak, their last home game loss was from last season to Temple. With close games against Marshall, SMU, and Tulsa, the Bearcats still find ways to win, which makes me believe that this team is different from previous years.
The Bearcats had a “large” task last night against UCF’s 7 foot 6 inch Center, Tacko Fall. Fall is an absolute monster. He averages 12 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. BJ Taylor and Matt Williams average 32 points per game, combined. However, I think it was Cincinnati’s speed that they couldn’t keep up with. The Bearcats had 47 deflections and 12 steals, 6 of them committed by Fall. Kyle Washington led the Bearcats in scoring with 14 points, 11 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 blocks. Jacob Evans, who didn’t score any points last week against UConn, tallied up 11 points, 6 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocks. All in all, it was a great win for the team. Next up, is another dooming task for Cincinnati…a very critical match-up.
A little history lesson. The last time Cincinnati was this high ranked AND 22-2 was 3 years ago when the Bearcats were ranked 7th in the nation led by seniors Sean Kilpatrick, Justin Jackson and Titus Rubles. It’s pretty funny to think about because the Bearcats then got their 22nd win against UConn and then traveled to SMU 2 days later only to get manhandled by the Mustangs. This year, we just got our 22nd win, and up next is the 25th ranked SMU. Will history repeat itself?
The difference between then and this year is not because of depth, but because of fatigue. Three years ago, the Bearcats had to play 4 games in a matter of 10 days leading up to the match against SMU. 2 of those games were wins against Nationally Ranked teams, defending champs Louisville Cardinals and No. 22 UConn. After the win against UConn, Cincinnati only had 2 days of rest and refueling before their game against SMU. The depth of any college team does factor in a game but being healthy and rested is a major factor as well.
Regardless, SMU will be a tough challenge for the Bearcats. Cincinnati was able to scrap out a win against SMU at home but playing in their court will be a different story. 4 days is enough time to rest and refuel. The bottom line is the team that is tougher and ready to play will win this game. World War 3 is coming and this could be the deciding factor on who wins the regular season title in the AAC. SMU is currently on a 6 game win streak and they would love to upset Cincinnati like they did 3 years ago. I’m so nervous right now thinking about this game because I have no doubt Moody Colliseum will be rocking and SMU will have the home court on their side. All I can hope is that Mick Cronin has his kids ready to play because it will be a dog fight. I’m sensing it could be a close game in the end but I could be wrong too. There’s no doubt that both teams will be dancing in March. The goal for the Bearcats is to get a good seed in the Tournament. Right now, ESPN Analyst Joe Lunardi has the Bearcats as a 4 seed. I can see them getting a 4 seed if the Bearcats go 5-2 in their remaining games and then winning the conference tournament. Should be a great game on Sunday! Go Cats!