The Cincinnati Bearcats were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament by the UCLA Bruins in March. It was the second time they were knocked out of the Big Dance by the Bruins. Those UCLA Bruins sure are jerks. I hope the next time the Bearcats play those Bruins, they beat them something fierce.
Luckily, I won’t have to wait long as a home-and-home series with UCLA was officially announced yesterday. The Bruins will host the Bearcats at historic Pauley Pavilion on Dec. 16 of this upcoming season, with the roles reversing in 2018 when the Bearcats will host UCLA at Fifth Third Arena on Dec. 19. That second matchup will come after the renovation of UC’s home court and is a marquee tilt to put on the schedule of Fifth Third’s return season.
This series, which was rumored back in April, should be a big boon for UC basketball. UCLA is a nationally recognized powerhouse and certainly on an upswing, even if Lonzo Ball will be off to the NBA this summer. The Bruins have been nationally ranked in six-straight seasons and are coming off a 31-5 campaign. The Bearcats don’t often play teams with that kind of resume, with Iowa State, Butler and Xavier the biggest bad guys on the slate this past season. As I alluded to earlier and you likely are well aware of, UCLA is also the team that knocked the Bearcats out of the NCAA Tournament this past spring, putting a nice spice rub of potential revenge on an already prime cut of college basketball.
Cincinnati and UCLA have only clashed four times all-time and only once in the last decade. However, UCLA has made a mark on the program by knocking the Bearcats out of the NCAA tourney twice. While this past season’s loss was certainly disappointing, it pales in comparison to the 105-101 double-overtime loss No. 1 seed UC took against No. 8 seed UCLA in the second round of the 2002 Big Dance. The Bearcats won 31 games that year, which was the final season of Steve Logan’s collegiate career.
Cincinnati won the other two meetings, but those came back in the 1960s so there is much less blood boiling to be had on either side.
So mark your calendars, Bearcats faithful. UC will be offered at a chance at revenge on Dec. 16 and another a year later.