Let’s start this post by saying thanks to the NFL for providing the appetizers for this weekend’s main event. That is, of course, the Sunday evening American Athletic Conference matchup between the No. 19 Cincinnati Bearcats and the SMU Mustangs at BB&T Arena.
- Tipoff: 6 p.m. ET
- Television: ESPN2
- Announcing crew: Kevin Brown (play-by-play) and John Thompson (analyst)
- Radio: 700 WLW
- Announcing crew: Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Terry Nelson (analyst)
- Series history: The premiere rivalry in the American Athletic Conference now that UConn is, well, not great, the Bearcats and Mustangs have still only met 12 times historically. However, they squared off in the AAC title game in 2017 and the Mustangs won 71-56, earning a 2-1 mark against UC last season. The good news is the Bearcats lead the all-time series 7-5 and are 5-4 against SMU since both teams joined the AAC.
As of posting, there are only two teams that still haven’t lost a game in AAC play this season. There’s the Wichita State Shockers and the Bearcats (13-2, 2-0). That might speak to just how competitive the league will be this year or to the fact that there’s the Bearcats, the Shockers and everybody else. This game will be a real test of the second theory, as SMU (12-4, 2-1) has been a thorn in UC’s side the last few seasons, including last year when the Mustangs won the conference crown.
UC didn’t get to that 2-0 mark easily. Half of it was simple (thanks, Memphis), but on Thursday, heroics from Jacob Evans and Kyle Washington were all that kept the Bearcats from a road setback. They are now back home where they have won 34-straight, including a 66-64 win over SMU last winter.
SMU did not avoid an upset when it last hit the floor, falling to Tulane (I know) 73-70. However, with guys like Shake Milton still on the roster, this is not a team to underestimate.