We have officially entered the month of February which means March is just down the road. As the Cincinnati Bearcats continue to barrel toward another season with meaningful games in the third month of the year, the landscape of college basketball is shifting. Some teams are lifting their stock while others are doing permanent damage. For the most part, the Bearcats have fallen into the former category. Even though they did not have the most convincing victory against SMU on Saturday, they are still 19-3 overall and riding a seven-game winning streak. What does that mean for the Bearcats NCAA Tournament projections compared to last week? Let’s find out.
I guess SB Nation’s own Chris Dobbertean was not overly impressed by UC’s victory against the Mustangs. After being pegged as a No. 7 seed last week, the Bearcats slipped slightly in this week’s bracketology. Based on these projections, UC would play in the Midwest region with top four seeds of Tennessee, Kansas, North Carolina and Wisconsin.
When looking at teams on UC’s schedule, both past and future, you’ll notice that American Athletic Conference front-runner Houston has moved up to a No. 3 seed while the Mississippi State Bulldogs, who are one of only three teams to beat the Bearcats this season, were promoted to a No. 6 seed. Meanwhile, Ole Miss (No. 9) and Northern Kentucky (No. 16) both remain in the mix despite demotions. Ohio State (No. 9) is another past opponent included in this field, as is Temple (No. 11), which continues to play on the fringes, with Dobbertean placing them in the last four teams in. The same luck was not afforded to UCF, which is in the first four teams out list.
There’s no seeding change for the Bearcats on Joe Lunardi’s bracket this week, but there are plenty of changes around them. Lunardi favors UCF (No. 10) over Temple (first four out) as the third AAC team in the field, with Houston joining the Bearcats and Knights as a No. 4 seed with the Bearcats and Knights. Lunardi also gave slight seeding bumps to Ohio State (No. 9) and Ole Miss (No. 8), while Northern Kentucky (No. 14) dropped one spot and George Mason fell off the map entirely.
The most enticing part of Lunardi’s update is who is included in UC’s side of the bracket. Like Dobbertean, Lunardi has the Bearcats in the Midwest region with similar teams in the top four (Tennessee, North Carolina, Kansas, Virginia Tech), but its the No. 6 seed that should pique interest for Bearcats fans. That is currently where Lunardi has Mississippi State, which could set up a potential Sweet 16 rematch between the Bearcats and Bulldogs if everything breaks right.
Our third bracketologist this week is Jerry Palm of CBS Sports. Palm agrees with Dobbertean’s assessment of the Bearcats, giving them a No. 8 seed, although in the East region instead of the Midwest. Palm’s East region has a top four of Duke, Michigan, Kansas and Villanova, while also posting Northern Kentucky as a No. 14 seed and Mississippi State as the No. 7 seed. That means the Bearcats could potentially earn revenge against the Bulldogs in the regional final, but some major upsets would have to take place for that to happen.
As for the rest of the bracket, Palm has both UCF and Temple in as No. 11 seeds with Houston as a No. 3. That would be an excellent haul for the AAC and would give UC a resume boost if the selection committee has similar feelings about the Owls and Knights. Beyond their own conference, other Bearcat opponents from this year in this projection are Ohio State and Ole Miss as No. 9 seeds.