Forget for a second the Cincinnati Bearcats play their one and only rival game next week. It's not important. Well, a victory might help their tournament resume, but I'm setting it aside because it has no bearing on who wins the American Athletic Conference's regular season title.
Plus, I don't think the Bearcats need a resume boost. Not yet, at least.
Yes, Tuesday night's drubbing against Temple was disappointing. I expected a better effort. But if UC takes care of business the rest of the way through, they won't be sweating their loss to the Owls.
The Bearcats have a shot at the regular season crown - even if it's not a great one. And that's not a sentence I expected to type at the beginning of the season.
To reach the top spot they'll need some help. With 6 conference games to go, chances are they won't go undefeated. It wouldn't totally shock me - but I'm obviously not betting on it. So let's assume they drop one; that would put the Bearcats at 13-5 in conference play. And I don't think that'll be good enough.
But let's have a little fun, shall we? What if they re-focus and pull off all six wins? Here are the current standings and who each has left on their respective schedules:
- Tulsa (10-1): @UConn, ECU, Temple, Tulane, @Memphis, Cincinnati, @SMU
- SMU (10-2): @Houston, UConn, Temple, @Memphis, @UConn, Tulsa
- Temple (9-3): ECU, @SMU, @Tulsa, Houston, @ECU, UConn
- Cincinnati (8-4): Tulane, @Houston, UCF, @Tulane, @Tulsa, Memphis
My gut says Tulsa drops 3 of their remaining games, giving them 4 conference losses - or in other words, the number of losses the Bearcats currently have. UC would need to win out and one of those wins would have to be over Tulsa.
As for SMU, well the Mustangs only need to lose two games to end up tied with the Cats - assuming, of course, UC somehow wins out. That's possible. And with their sweep of SMU, Cincinnati would hold the tiebreaker.
You'll notice Temple only needs to lose one more, and given their schedule, that's not improbable. Although with a healthy Will Cummings, they looked unstoppable just the other night.
And don't count out UConn. Theoretically, they could win the rest of their conference games and end up with the same AAC record as UC. Crazier things have happened.
So it looks like Cincinnati needs things to break their way to win the AAC regular season title. It's possible, but not likely - although they do appear to have the most favorable schedule going forward. What if the Bearcats lone loss the rest of the year is to that school in Norwood. Would you take that?