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Game Preview: No. 18 Cincinnati Bearcats at USF Bulls

With a heartbreaking loss to SMU on Sunday, the Bearcats look to get back on track with a big win on the road.

NCAA Basketball: South Florida at Cincinnati David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

This weekend did not go as planned for the Cincinnati Bearcats, as their 15-game win streak was snapped at the hands of the SMU Mustangs at Moody Coliseum Sunday afternoon. UC looked unprepared and shaken in the second half and the team's leader, Troy Caupain, was nowhere to be seen. The loss to SMU shows some areas that the Bearcats will need to focus on if they want to make some noise in postseason play, but it is not the time to panic, especially with UC’s next opponent a less than stellar USF Bulls squad.

As the two teams prepare to do battle on Wednesday night in Tampa, its worth remembering that the last time these squads linked up on the court, UC dominated in a 94-53 win. They should expect the same sort of outcome this time around.

Get to Know the Opponent

The Bull will enter the game against the UC Bearcats with a lousy 7-17 record, including a 1-12 mark in American Athletic Conference play. The Bulls will surely remember the last time the team’s played each other and hope for a very different outcome. The players to watch for the Bulls are leading scorer Geno Thorpe who averages 14.2 points per game and Tulio Da Silva who averages 10 points per game and roughly seven rebounds. Also, remember Michael Bibby was a big factor, dropping 17 points with four three pointers when the Bulls visited Fifth Third Arena. USF sits dead last in theAAC, despite earning its first league win last time out, and it has shown no true signs of life this season.

Can Losing Be a Positive Thing?

A common thought when talking about sports is the idea that losing a few games can actually be helpful in the long run, and it is an idea that I fully support. Obviously, when the game is actually going on, I never want the Bearcats to lose but in hind sight, the loss to SMU could help UC refocus as a team and work on some flaws that the Mustangs took advantage of. First and foremost, there is no chance that the Bearcats can give up a 15-0 run in the middle of a game and expect to win. Secondly, shooting was extremely ugly as the Bearcats posted a 34.7 percent field goal percentage in the loss on Sunday. And lastly, where was their leader when they needed him? Troy Caupain scored only two points that came at the free throw line during the entire game against the Mustangs. would say those are the big three negatives from Sunday's loss to SMU and they are things that can easily be corrected. The Bearcats can now stop worrying about the win streak and get back to just playing ball without that added pressure. I believe that this loss will help UC in the long run.

Prediction

Against a bad USF team, I think the Bearcats will have a big game on the court, which should help with their momentum coming off the loss. UC is the deeper, more talented team and it will be ready to prove it going forward. The Bearcats are now No. 2 in the ACC but there is still three weeks of basketball to be played in the regular season. Winning Wednesday will ensure that they are still within range of claiming the AAC regular season title.