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Ranking Cincinnati Bearcats Men’s Basketball Teams Over the Past Decade

How would you rank each men’s basketball team over the past 10 years?

NCAA Basketball: American Athletic Conference Tournament Championship Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Over the last 10 college basketball seasons, dating back to 2010-11, Cincinnati has made the NCAA Tournament 9 times and were on track to compete for a 10th straight, before the 2020 season was cut short.

It’s been a fun decade of Bearcats basketball, after a tumultuous start to the 2000s. Mick Cronin, and now John Brannen, have the Bearcats on stable ground, winning championships and competing at a high level.

Looking back at the last 10 seasons, here are my personal favorite teams ranked from 10 (least favorite) to 1 (most favorite). Let me know in the comments section who your favorite team(s) have been.

10. 2012-13

This team finished 22-12, their most losses over the past decade. It was also the first time in three tournament appearances under Mick Cronin, that the Bearcats lost in the first round. 2013 was the end of the Big East as we once knew it, as the Bearcats moved on to the American Athletic Conference after 2013.

The highlight of this season was celebrating the end of the great careers of Cashmere Wright (12.7 ppg, 3.2 apg, 2.4 rpg) and Jaquon Parker (10.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg). This team also saw the true ascension of Sean Kilpatrick, a redshirt junior whose scoring increased to 17 ppg (up from 14.3 and 9.7 the years prior). My favorite stat from this season was that forward Titus Rubles shot 4-43 from three point land - a solid 9%.

9. 2015-16

The Bearcats only win over a ranked team came in the regular season finale, at home against SMU. They lost home games to #11 Iowa State and Butler, both in the final seconds, and away to Xavier.

This team finished 22-11. Before 2020, it was the last Bearcats team to lose double digit games and not play in the conference tournament championship (obviously special circumstances impacted UC in 2020).

The season ended horribly, with two major disappointments. First, was the legendary 4 overtime AAC Tournament game against UConn. Next, they lost to Saint Joseph’s in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, when senior Octavius Ellis’ layup attempt left his finger a split second too late, after the buzzer had gone off.

8. 2018-19

Mick Cronin’s last win at Cincinnati was the Bearcats’ second straight AAC tournament championship victory. The season ended with a loss as a 7 seed to Iowa. For the second straight year, Cincinnati blew a double digit second half lead to lose a tourney game.

Despite their success, I just never thought that highly of this team. But that says a lot about coach Cronin, that they replaced Gary Clark and Kyle Washington with Trevon Scott and Nysier Brooks and lost Jacob Evans and just kept winning. This team was scrappy and fun to watch and it was the end of a fun run with guards Justin Jenifer and Cane Broome.

7. 2014-15

The next two are pretty close. This team is actually ranked as high as it is because of my love for Troy Caupain. Caupain was second on the team with 9.6 ppg, but this play will always hold a special place in my heart.

The season ended in the second round against an unbeaten Kentucky team. Cincy lost by 13, but it was an extremely well played game against a legendary UK team.

6. 2016-17

This was the beginning of the latest run of success for UC basketball. The 30-6 record represent the most wins and fewest losses since going 31-4 in 2001-02. Somehow, going 16-2 in conference wasn’t enough to win it as SMU finished 17-1 and beat Cincinnati in the conference tournament championship.

As a freshman, Jarron Cumberland was named sixth man of the year in conference play, setting the tone for an epic career of milestones and accomplishments. Cumberland was the best player on the court for UC (and at times both teams) when the season ended against Lonzo Ball’s UCLA team in the second round of the tournament.

5. 2013-14

Sean Kilpatrick will forever be a Bearcats legend, and that’s why I will forever remember the 2013-14 season. Kilpatrick exceed 2,000 career points, becoming only the second ever Bearcats player to achieve that. He was also named a consensus second-team All-American and First-team All-AAC.

Kilpatrick (20.6 ppg) and Justin Jackson (11.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg), both seniors, were the heart and soul of a team that finished the regular season tied for first place with Louisville in the first year of the American Athletic Conference.

4. 2011-12

This Bearcats team accomplished two things no other UC team has since 2005 - they made the Sweet 16 and they appeared in the Big East Championship Game.

Led by Yancy Gates, Cashmere Wright and Dion Dixon, Cincinnati upset the #2 team in the country, Syracuse, in the Big East semifinals, to earn the right to play in the prestigious championship game (where they lost to Louisville). In the Tournament, Cincinnati beat Texas and Florida State, before losing to Ohio State in the Sweet 16.

This team would be higher on the list if not for two faulty flaws - the fight with Xavier and losing at home to some school called Presbyterian.

3. 2019-20

This may sound crazy - but I was absolutely in love with this year’s team.

You never knew what to expect on a nightly basis and that was the best part. Every game was a struggle, with both pain and excitement and I loved all of it. I loved the fact that they had to fight and earn everything, how hard this team played, how much they had to grind. This team had to overcome a lifetime of adversity and obstacles in a 5 month time-frame - record number of consecutive overtime games, terrible losses, injuries, and most recently the sad death of the coach’s father. All of that weighs on college athletes.

This season was the beginning of a new era. I think two lessons were learned this season

  1. Winning was taken for granted the last 10 years. Fans expected to win every game, based on the success of the program. Which is great, fans should have high expectations. But that’s what made this year fun for me, personally. Was how hard winning had become, making it special again.

2. The future is bright and the foundation laid by John Brannen and this team will set the tone for future seasons to come. The three freshman all showed potential and the incoming freshman class is one of the more exciting recruiting classes to come to Cincinnati in quite some time. You can see the difference in the style of play and how exciting and fun it is for players and, especially, for fans.

2. 2010-11

“They say you never forget your first love”.

This team holds a special place in my heart because they were the first....Cincinnati had gone 5 years (the first 4 of the Mick Cronin era) without an NCAA Tournament appearance. And this team finally broke through, winning 26 games (the most since 2001-02) and getting to the Big Dance. Once in the tournament, they made their presence felt, beating Missouri in round one before losing to conference rival and eventually champion, UConn.

1. 2017-18

This team was amazing, finishing 31-5. Gary Clark won AAC Player of the Year, Bearcats won the outright regular season championship, and won the AAC tournament championship. The 5 losses were the fewest by UC since 1999-2000 season and the 31 wins were tied for the school record (2001-02). They were ranked as high as #5 in the AP poll and ultimately earned a #2 seed in the tournament.

Despite the ugly tournament and unfortunate tournament exit, this team is definitely my favorite from the past 10 years.

Who is your favorite team? Let us know in the comments section!