The Layup Line: South Florida, Again

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

If the number 13 is unlucky, then what do you call a 13-game winning streak?

The Cincinnati Bearcats are a top 10 basketball team. I'll take "phrases you wouldn't have uttered before the season" for $100, Alex.

You're kidding yourself if you thought anything close to that in October of last year. Who predicted the Bearcats to sit atop the AAC while streaking towards a top 10 national ranking - in February?

The Bearcats have done enough this year to warrant a top 10 ranking. Here's the thing, though: top 10 teams suffer an occasional misstep - and that's exactly what could happen on Sunday against USF (11-10, 2-6).

  • Game: Sunday, February 2, 2014; 12:00pm EST
  • Location: Fifth Third Arena/Shoemaker Center; Cincinnati, OH
  • TV/Radio: CBSSN; 700 WLW

Remember last month's meeting? When the Bearcats escaped Tampa with a 7 point victory? I say "escaped" only because the Bulls took the lead a couple times in the second half, and it was a 3 point game with 70 seconds left. In fact, South Florida topped the Bearcats in rebounds, points in the paint, second chance points, and fast break points.

And the Bearcats won.

But you didn't come here for a recap of an old game, right, so let's look at what'll go down on Super Bull Sunday. I crack myself up. Is this thing on?

First of all, I don't expect any super Bulls on Sunday. I've been flaky over the past week or so, but the three starting seniors on this year's Cincinnati squad won't let Thursday's success equate to a lackadaisical approach on Sunday. Speaking of my flakiness:

Fair enough. It's hard to pick a team to win 13 games in a row. And when this winning streak started back in December, I wasn't as confident as I am now - were you? Look, the Bearcats will lose a couple games from here on out, and putting your finger on exactly which games they'll lose just got a lot more difficult.

What the 'Cats have to do to win:

  • Defensive Rebound. Yep - this was one of my keys last meeting, and it still holds true. The Bulls shoot about as well as Harry Dunne in Dumb and Dumber. Don't give them second chances.
  • Score points. Really? You mean UC has to score more points than the other team to win? In short, yeah. Basically, the Bearcats can't go cold for long stretches of Sunday's game. They've done a good job of getting to line when not making baskets, so keep it up.
  • Neutralize Chris Perry. He went for 5 pts/4 rebs in the Bulls' loss to Cincinnati last month, but he logged 18 and 8 in their upset win against SMU this past week.

My prediction: Wait, the Bulls beat SMU? Dang... You know as soon as I pick the 'Cats to win, they'll lose. Superstition or super ability? Fingers crossed there's a good crowd at the Shoe on Sunday. Sounds like the perfect kick off to Super Bowl Sunday... This one's closer than some think: Bearcats win 65-58.

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