In all fairness to the Bearcats, they were in an unfavorable position to begin with. While they were ranked, they were at the 25th spot, making for a razor-thin margin of error if they hoped to remain in the poll. A road win against Memphis on Thursday helped them remain in the running, but falling flat offensively at Houston gave them the loss that sealed their fate. While losing to a Cougars squad that moved up to No. 9 this week is far from an embarrassment, when the voters cast their ballots, seeing a loss during the previous week was bound to knock the Bearcats down.
On the positive side, the fall wasn’t particularly drastic. The Bearcats are receiving the most votes of any non-ranked team this week (76), which essentially puts them at No. 26 overall.
The Bearcats are in a similar position in the USA Today/Coaches Poll, sitting at No. 26 with 45 votes. However, they dropped a bit farther to get there, as they were ranked 23rd a week ago. Their current post has them one slot ahead of the Mississippi State Bulldogs, who defeated the Bearcats earlier this season. In addition, Ole Miss, a team UC beat this season, is also receiving a handful of votes. Conversely, Houston is the only UC opponent to receive any votes in the AP poll this week.
Diving a little deeper, KenPom’s most recent rankings, which are based on adjusted efficiency, have a similar estimation of UC compared to the national polls, with the Bearcats ranked 27th. As NCAA.com’s Andy Katz put it in his weekly power rankings, the Bearcats “are still a threat to be a tough out in March.” Losing a close game on the road to the first place team in the American Athletic Conference doesn’t change that.