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Assessing Cincinnati’s Non-Conference Men’s Basketball Slate

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 13 Memphis at Cincinnati Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bearcats men’s basketball program has a diverse non-conference slate in the fall semester of 2021.

Cincinnati faces off with a number of legitimately strong major conference opponents including arch rival Xavier, Georgia, and Illinois as well as a number of less heralded teams from weaker conferences. Cincinnati also spends most of the early season either at home or very close to home. Cincinnati’s longest trip is a tournament weekend in Kansas City.

Let’s take a first look at the Bearcats’ non-conference opposition this Fall:

November 9: Evansville: The Purple Aces are on the upward path. A couple years out from a winless campaign in the MVC, this is a veteran team (5 seniors) led by a legitimate program building head coach in Todd Lickliter (Butler, Iowa).

November 13: Georgia: Tom Crean is reinvigorating this UGA Bulldogs program, which will be aided considerably in 2021-2022 by the addition of USC transfer Noah Baumann, who will be the best perimeter shooter in the SEC on day one.

November 16: Alabama A&M: The Bulldogs have been stuck in rebuild mode for more years than what could reasonably be considered a rebuild.

November 18: Presbyterian: The Blue Hose return all 5 starters on a team that made strides last season, pulling themselves out of the basement of the Big South. Watch out for senior guard Rayshon Harrison who can drive and pull up with equal aplomb.

November 22: Illinois (in Kansas City, MO): The Illini are a legitimate contender for not only the Big Ten Title but, just like last year, the national title. Despite the loss of Ayo Donsonmu, they boast a 1-2-3 punch of guards Andre Curbelo and Trent Frazier as well as big man Kofi Cockburn that is as good as any in the country.

November 23: Kansas State or Arkansas (in Kansas City, MO): Kansas State is reeling after a 9-20 season while Arkansas brings back most of an Elite Eight team.

November 27: Monmouth: Has about 10 guys that had hit three-pointers. This is a very dangerous game coming off the pair of big time matchups in Kansas City.

December 1: at Miami (Ohio): Return all five starters from a solid though smallish 2020-2021 team.

December 5: Bryant: Excellent business school.

December 11: at Xavier: This team can shoot. Nate Johnson is one of the country’s best outside shooters. Zach Freemantle can make it happen in the post while Paul Scruggs is an elite distributor. This will be a battle.[

December 14: Florida A&M: SWAC newcomers Florida A&M boast solid transfers from Seton Hall and Western Michigan.

December 18: Texas Southern: Consistently one of the best teams in the SWAC, led by sturdy power forward Joirdon Karl Nicholas.

December 21: Tennessee Tech: Rebuilding Ohio Valley Conference club led by veteran coach John Pelphrey