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3 Games Loom Large for the Bearcats

posted Jan 5, 2017, 8:09 AM by Austin James   [ updated Jan 10, 2017, 2:46 PM ]
Article by Jacob Geiser

In the AAC, good quality wins are normally found when you beat UConn, Temple, and Memphis. Since the creation of the conference, Memphis has trended downward and now UConn has followed. UConn sits at 5-8 (0-2) in the 2016/17 season. Currently at 176 in the RPI, UConn won't be going up anytime soon. So, UC's chance to build a strong resume for the NCAA Tournament lie with wins over SMU, Temple (already have 1), and Houston. Obviously it goes without saying that #16 Xavier is their biggest game. However, 3 games loom large for the Bearcats.

UC already defeated Temple 56-50 in classic Bearcats fashion. Average shooting and great defense helped give UC a win over a top 75 RPI team in Temple. Sitting at #48 in the latest RPI rankings, the win of Temple helps get that monkey off of UC's back as Temple has had UC's number since the AAC emerged. One more meeting lies ahead before the Cats square off with Xavier. Temple comes to Cincinnati on January 18th. UC will need to get the job done against SMU (#22) and Houston (#60) before getting a crack at Xavier, who is ranked 7 in the current RPI standings.

The American has normally generated 3-4 solid teams when it comes to resume builders. UC, SMU, UConn and Temple. This year you take away UConn and add in Houston. UConn was normally hovering in the same area as UC was in the RPI. However this year UC is the lone wolf. Cincinnati is the favorite to win this conference no doubt, but the Houston game this Saturday night will be a way to gauge peoples confidence. UC lost to Houston last year on the road, no idea how that happened but it did. If UC wants to get solid seeding, they will need to blow by these teams in the American.

Quite honestly, I'm not even worried about Houston or Temple. SMU and UConn are the only teams who get me concerned. SMU because they are a tough team to play at Moody and UConn just out of pure respect for the rivalry between UC-UConn since joining the AAC. Those games will be tough no matter what.

Fans understand that good wins are hard to come by, especially in this god awful conference. Rhode Island and Butler are the wins that got away from Cincinnati, Iowa State is doing UC no favors at the moment. Xavier is UC best game coming up. It will go a long way in helping UC get out of the current 7 seed line that they are in.

So, before UC and Xavier get ready for their brawl (no pun intended) they have to take care of business against Houston (road), SMU (home), and Temple (home).