In a little more than five days, the entire bracket of the 2019 NCAA Tournament will be revealed to the world and then incessantly analyzed for that brief period between selection and the opening day of the first round. As we count down the seconds until we get to that sweet spot of college basketball nirvana, we still have projected brackets to pour over. This week’s updates are bound to change by the minute, as upsets take place in the conference tournaments and a few at-large bids shift back and forth. For the Cincinnati Bearcats, a spot in the tournament is essentially guaranteed but their standing may have taken a hit after last week. Let’s take a look and see before the American Athletic Conference Tournament starts on Thursday.
If any losses can be considered “quality” ones, those to teams like UCF and Houston qualify. That’s probably why the Bearcats remain a No. 6 seed in Chris Dobbertean’s most recent projections for this week. UC is scheduled to face off with 11th-seed St. John’s based on this prediction and share a South region with a top four of Kentucky, Duke, Michigan and Virginia Tech. The region also features a potential Sweet 16 rematch with Ole Miss (No. 10) and and an even more epic one against Nevada (No. 5) in the regional final. A lot of upsets would have to happen to get there, but it would give the Bearcats a chance to avenge their round of 32 collapse from last season. In addition, Ohio State is part of this region as one of the last four teams in.
Other teams that the Bearcats might recognize from their regular season schedule in this projection are UCF (No. 8), Mississippi State (No. 5), Temple (No. 12 and last four in) and Houston (No. 3).
This could potentially change by the time you read this, but as of now, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has kept the Bearcats as a seventh seed. It has been a pretty stable prediction over the last few weeks. This time, the Bearcats would play Oklahoma in the first round and hope to vanquish the rest of the West region, including top four seeds of Gonzaga, LSU, Purdue and Florida State. Ohio State is once again among the last four teams in and could earn the 12th seed in the region.
In the rest of the bracket, there is a first round matchup between Mississippi State (No. 6) and Temple (No. 11), which Lunardi named one of the last four teams with a bye thanks to its win over UCF on Saturday. Houston (No. 3), UCF (No. 8) and Ole Miss (No. 9) all made the cut as well.
I wonder if its even possible for the Bearcats to drop below the sixth or seventh seed tier. CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm has them in that range as well. My guess would be that unless they are absolutely crushed in the quarterfinals of the AAC tourney, they are at least guaranteed a seventh seed.
Returning to this projection, Palm also has the Bearcats playing St. John’s in the first round and Mississippi State (No. 6) and Temple (No. 11) squaring off in another region. UC’s region is the South in this projection, led by a top four of Kentucky, Duke, Michigan and Kansas State. Other regions include UCF (No. 8 in the Midwest), Houston (No. 3 in the West), Ole Miss (No. 8 in the West) and Ohio State (No. 11 in the West).