Editor’s note: An error was made in the original post, saying that UC could face Michigan or Houston in the Sweet 16. I got the South Region mixed up with the West. The mistake has been fixed.
If you want to, you can scour the internet and find people picking the Cincinnati Bearcats to do everything from win the national championship to be upset in the first round by the Georgia State Panthers. Everyone has an opinion and everyone has a bracket with picks all their own.
While it would be nice to know exactly what’s going to happen, there’s no way to guarantee any of those picks will be the right ones. But we can lay out what success (and what failure) looks like for this year’s Bearcats.
Best Case Scenario
The Bearcats and Panthers tip off at exactly 2 p.m. Jacob Evans drains a three-pointer on UC’s first possession, sparking a 21-4 run to open the game. UC never looks back, hounding GSU’s three-pointer shooters while punching its ticket easily to the round of 32.
Shaka Smart finds some NCAA Tournament magic and the No. 10 seed Texas Longhorns upset seven-seed Nevada to advance to the round of 32. However, the Bearcats put an end to that run in a low-scoring game. Kyle Washington scores 17 points to lead the way and UC does not allow a field goal in the final three minutes to earn the win.
Round four with Tennessee is what awaits the Bearcats in the Sweet 16, as Admiral Schofield scores 65 points combined in the first two rounds. However, the Bearcats dispatch the three-seed Volunteers, with Gary Clark posting 15 points and 15 rebounds while Jarron Cumberland goes shot for shot with
In the Elite Eight, the defensive struggle we all want to see comes to fruition. Virginia (No. 1 in adjusted defense) and UC (No. 2) trade blows for 40 minutes, with each team shooting below 35 percent from the floor. With the game tied at 47-47 and only seconds left, Evans hits a pull-up three as time expires to stun the top seed Cavaliers and send UC to the Final Four.
Revenge is on UC’s mind at that point, as Xavier gets through the West Region to make the Final Four opposite the Bearcats. While that erases the fun of Xavier having never made the Final Four, the Crosstown Shootout on the game’s biggest stage makes for appointment television. UC hits its first six shots and leans on 18 points from Cane Broome and strong interior play on the glass to hold off Xavier and get into the national title game.
Villanova is the opponent in that contest, matching top-notch offense and superior defense. Cumberland and Evans absolutely befuddle Jalen Brunson and Clark and Washington pound it down low as the game comes down to the wire. The Wildcats have the ball with 23 seconds to play and the game knotted at 68-68, but Clark forces a turnover that leads to a game-winning score in transition for the Bearcats, who win their first national championship since 1962.
If you think this is just wish fulfillment, you are partially correct, but let’s remember, the Bearcats have the fifth-best chance to win the whole thing according to ESPN’s BPI.
Worst Case Scenario
Pardon me for overlooking Georgia State, and may I eat my words if I am incorrect, but I really don’t see how the Panthers are going to upset the Bearcats. Perhaps if the three-point shooting for GSU gets extremely hot, the game could end up being close, but even if it isn’t a blowout, UC should win this game.
However, even with that type of confidence, there is always the chance that Nevada’s Jordan Caroline has a legendary-type game in the second round and sends the Bearcats home packing.
The Likely Scenario
This is where we have to get down to brass tacks. UC should handle GSU, especially if the Bearcats are able to defend the three and dominate the glass, which is likely considering how well they crash the boards, especially on offense. Nevada or Texas will be a greater challenge, but one UC can handle.
Its when we get to the Sweet 16 that things become critically difficult. At that point, three-seed Tennessee will likely be the opponent. The Volunteers are ranked 11th in the country by KenPom and are fourth in adjusted defense, meaning they match up fairly well with the Bearcats. It is either here, or in the Elite Eight against Virginia (presumably) that the buck will stop.
But these are all just educated guesses. Every possibility out there is still at least, well, possible. There are just some that are more likely (and more agreeable to UC fans) than others.
How far will the Cincinnati Bearcats advance?
This poll is closed
Lose in the first round
Round of 32
National Title game
Win it all