- Tipoff: 7 p.m. ET
- Television: ESPN2
- Announcing crew: Adam Amin (play-by-play) and Len Elmore (analyst)
- Radio: 700 WLW
- Announcing crew: Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Chuck Machock (analyst)
- Gamblin’ info: Cincinnati opened as 8.5-point favorites.
- Series history: If you are 28-2 against an opponent all-time, can you still be rivals? That’s a question UC and UH fans will have to answer, as the Bearcats have absolutely dominated against the Cougars, including a 67-58 victory on the road earlier this season.
Just forget about Sunday. Put it out of your head. Think about anything else. Think about pink elephants.
Feeling better? Great.
On Thursday night the No. 18 Cincinnati Bearcats will play their last home game of the season against the Houston Cougars. This contest has more than one emotional string attached to it. First, this will be the last home game for Troy Caupain, who has been the steady leader of the Bearcats these last few seasons. Second, it also marks the end of the road for Kevin Johnson, who has played his best season ever as a senior. Third, it will be time to bid adieu to Zack Tobler and #ToblerTime. Finally, this is also the last time the Bearcats will play in Fifth Third Arena until renovations are completed. So right there are four reasons to attend/watch/listen.
We won’t even factor in the fact that UC needs a win to keep its diminishing hopes at an American Athletic Conference regular season title alive. Remember, pink elephants.
Wait, I’m being told we still have to talk about that. Well fine. At 25-4 and 14-2 in AAC play, UC has locked up a top two seed in the AAC Tournament but wins in its last two games and losses from SMU in its last two would elevate the Bearcats to the No. 1 position. They wouldn’t have needed so much outside help if not for an unfortunate 53-49 loss at UCF on Sunday, but that’s in the past now.
As for Houston, it is charging into March, having won seven of its last eight games to improve to 20-8 overall. At 11-5 against the AAC, the Cougars have a firm hold on the No. 3 spot in the league standings as the regular season reaches its conclusion. Led by back court partners Rob Gray Jr. and Damyean Dotson, the Cougars are ranked No. 39 in the country by KenPom’s estimation. Gray Jr. and Dotson provide the scoring and help the squad rank 33rd in adjusted offense (115.7), but defense has not come so easily, as the Cougars are 78th in the nation in adjusted defense (100.3).