Even if it took every ounce of skill and luck they had, the Cincinnati Bearcats won both of their games this past week and that has resulted in progress in terms of the national rankings. Now 23-4 overall, the Bearcats jumped back into the AP Top 25 this week while taking a step forward in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
Starting with the AP poll, the Bearcats were just outside the top 25 a week ago, but their victories over UCF and UConn propelled them to the No. 23 spot. That marks their highest ranking of the season and gives them a bit more breathing room after only getting to the No. 25 position in their only other week on the list.
On an interesting note, the Bearcats may have gotten some help from Xavier (gasp!) to get into the rankings, as the Musketeers’ upset win over then No. 17 Villanova dropped the Wildcats out of the top 25, opening up a spot in the process. UC probably would have made it in regardless of that outcome, but having fewer teams to compete with certainly helped.
As for the rest of the AP poll, Houston is the only team from UC’s schedule in the rankings, maintaining its spot at No. 9. However, both Mississippi State and Ole Miss are receiving a handful of votes down the ballot.
The Bearcats got an even better bump in the Coaches poll. They reached the No. 25 spot last week and are now ranked 22nd, marking a three-position increase. Villanova’s demotion from No. 16 and Iowa State’s from No. 20 played a hand in clearing some space higher up the rankings to be sure, but the Bearcats earned their way here.
Although these national rankings are great for the program, they don’t necessarily reflect how well they’ve played as a whole. There’s no arguing with their 23 wins and this team is definitely headed to the NCAA Tournament, but the Bearcats actually fell back to No. 31 in KenPom’s rankings, which are based on adjusted efficiency. As they set out to take on SMU, which just lost by 47 points to UCF, and Memphis this week, the Bearcats could really use some convincing victories to improve their standing.