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Cincinnati Bearcats Saturday Preview: Championships and Rivalries

Cincinnati football plays Memphis in the AAC Championship Game, men’s basketball plays at Xavier in their annual rivalry game, and volleyball plays round 2 of NCAA Tournament.

Tulane v Cincinnati Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Saturday December 7th will be a historic day for the Cincinnati Bearcats. It could be historic for good reasons or bad.

At 3:30 on ABC, the football team, for the second week in a row, plays at Memphis. The Bearcats lost last Friday 34-24, to finish the regular season 10-2. They return to Memphis to play in the AAC Championship Game for the first time in school history.

Simultaneously, at 5:00 pm, the men’s basketball team will play their annual Crosstown Shootout game against Xavier. This will be first year head coach John Brannen’s first taste of the rivalry, which has seen Cincinnati win two of the last three years.

And at 7:00, the lady Bearcats play in the second round of the NCAA Tournament against Pittsburgh, looking at advance beyond round two for the first time in school history.

LISTEN: Down the Drive Podcast crew of Mike Schneid and Scotty Whitehouse share their thoughts on the big doubleheader.

Football vs Memphis

Connecticut v Cincinnati

What to Know

  • Memphis is the only AAC team with an active win streak against Cincinnati and the only team Luke Fickell has yet to notch a win against.
  • Cincinnati has not beaten Memphis since 2013 (history of Cincinnati vs Memphis).
  • With the Bearcats ranked #20 and Boise State #19, a Cincinnati win will “likely” send them to the Cotton Bowl as the highest ranked Group of Five team.
  • After missing last week’s game, QB Desmond Ridder is expected to return to the starting lineup.

AAC Championship Game History

Saturday will be the 5th championship game in conference history. It’s Cincinnati’s first appearance and the third straight (and overall) appearance for Memphis. While this year’s game is being played at Memphis, the last two years, Memphis went on the road to Orlando to play UCF. In 2017, Memphis lost 62-55 in OT and in 2018, lost 56-41.

In 2015, Houston won the inaugural game over Temple and in 2016, Temple beat Navy.

That 2016 Temple team is the only one AAC Championship Game winner to not represent the AAC in a New Year’s Six bowl game (Western Michigan did at 13-0).

Keys to Victory

A few things went wrong on Friday - penalties, poor special team, turnovers. But if the Bearcats clean up those three things and do a few other things, they could beat Memphis.

Keys to success

Bowl Game Expectations

Bearcats are potentially positioned to be the highest ranked Group of Five team if they beat Memphis.

Cotton Bowl is the big prize for Cincinnati

If Cincinnati loses, they will settle for one of several different bowl games with AAC tie-ins. Here is a round-up of what the media is projecting for the Bearcats (as of 12/2).

Q&A with Memphis Beat Writer

We spoke to Jonah Jordan, who is the Memphis Tigers football beat writer for The Daily Memphian about the game to get some perspective and point of view from the enemy

Memphis POV on Championship Game

Basketball vs Xavier

NCAA Basketball: Cincinnati at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

What to Know

  • Last time Cincinnati won against Xavier 3 times out of 4 years was 1992-1996.
  • Bearcats haven’t won on the road in this rivalry since 2001.
  • Cincinnati is 6-2 (lost opening night to Ohio State and lost to Bowling Green in the Virign Islands). Xavier is 7-1 with a win over UConn and loss to Florida.

History of Series

A series that was first played in 1927, Cincinnati leads 51–35.

Catch up on the rich, historical context of the rivalry

In-depth look at the starting lineups

Phil Neuffer says the makeup of each starting lineup gives us a glimpse into key matchups and how these teams will try to claim victory.

Comparing the Starting Lineups for the 2019 Crosstown Shootout

Bearcats’ Recent Experiences Against Xavier

Jarron Cumberland and Trevon Scott are 2-1 against Xavier. Newcomers like coach Brannen, Jaevin Cumberland, and Chris McNeal all have experience playing at Cintas Center with previous teams.

A look at how current Bearcats have fared in the past against Xavier

Volleyball vs Pittsburgh

What to Know

  • Cincinnati finished AAC play 15-1 and overall 24-5 overall.
  • One of those 5 losses came to Saturday’s opponent Pittsburgh, when they lost 3-0 early in the season (that was one of two times the Bearcats were swept)
  • 12th NCAA Tournament appearance
  • Lost AAC Championship Game against UCF

Round One Recap

Cincinnati beat VCU in 4 sets, winning three straight after an opening set loss - 20-25, 25-22, 25-19, 25-23.

The represents the sixth time in school history that Cincinnati advances to the second round. They have never advanced beyond round two, though.

Friday night’s win was the 200th career victory for coach Molly Alvey

Regular season stats

  • Jordan Thompson led the country in total kills, kills per set, total points, and points per set, fifth in total attacks and second in attacks per set.
  • Thompson achieved two milestones this year - she had 50 kills in one match and became the 9th player all-time to reach 2,500 career kills and the first D1 volleyball player to do so since 2004.
  • Armania Heckenmueller finished second in assists per set and fourth in total assists.