The Cincinnati Bearcats are going in a decidedly positive direction as we make our way through the early days of March. During the last week, they pulled out victories against the UCF Knights and Memphis Tigers, extending their current winning streak to five games. In honor of that accomplishment, the national polls have seen fit to move them up the rankings, as the Bearcats were listed as the No. 20 team in today’s AP Top 25 and the No. 19 team in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
UC’s climb to 20th in the AP poll marks a three-spot increase from a week ago when they broke back in the rankings altogether. Big drops from Big Ten squads Wisconsin (two spots to No. 21) and Maryland (seven spots to No. 24) helped pave the way, but a 2-0 week against two of the better teams in the American Athletic Conference certainly made a big difference as well.
This week’s AP poll also raised the stakes for the rest of the week, which was already an important one for the Bearcats, who are 25-4 overall and tied with Houston for first place in the American Athletic Conference. Fresh off their road upset of that same Houston team, UCF entered the rankings for the first time this season, holding on at No. 25. That marks their first ranking since the 2010-11 season. Meanwhile, the Cougars fell four spots to No. 12, meaning the Bearcats will face two top 25 opponents to end the regular season.
In the Coaches poll, the Bearcats rose even higher, reaching their peak ranking of the season at No. 19. The coaches did not reward UCF as much as the AP, as the Knights are receiving 22 votes at the No. 27 position. However, they punished Houston much more severely, dropping them six spots to No. 12.
Besides Houston and UCF, Mississippi State is the only other UC opponent in the conversation, as the Bulldogs are still hanging around in the also receiving votes category.