| The News Record)
The Bearcats are officially streaking. They’ve won five games in a row following the Butler disappointment and have staked themselves to the #22 slot in Week 9’s AP Poll. Both the win streak and the poll streak sit at five, as the Bearcats have been ranked for the last month.
I touched on this in my Tulane recap, but the Bearcats are approaching a point of no return (in a good way). Over the next three to five games, they’ll have a chance to bury most challengers and basement-dwellers. If they can stretch this win streak until the Crosstown Shootout at the end of the month, they’ll have some good breathing room in the AAC, and I don’t think we’ll see them fall out of the rankings (or even the Top 20) for the rest of the season.
In short, the conference is weak and the Bearcats look pretty strong.
This is perhaps Cincinnati’s best week in the polls. While nobody is blown away by the Bearcats (their highest vote is #17), virtually the entire voting body agrees that UC is a Top 25 team. The AP Poll is comprised of 64 voters, and 60 of them placed the Bearcats on their ballot. That’s the best mark of the season. Of the six teams ranked #21–25 (there’s a tie in there), nobody has that kind of consensus.
I take this as the voters saying, “We see you, now show us something.” Stretch this win streak and the 60 people that respect UC will slide them up their rankings and we’ll likely see UC’s best poll position in three years when the Crosstown Shootout shifts to Fifth Third Arena on the 26th.
The #22 ranking ties the highest position of the season for the ‘Cats. As the rest of the Top 25 faces the onslaught of conference play, UC should slowly work their way up. There aren’t many chances for the Bearcats to prove themselves, so simply continuing to win while others falter will be the name of the game. If you like a marquee home slate, this year will disappoint you. If you like watching a ranked team shoot for 30 wins, buckle up.
The next couple of weeks will determine where UC sits in the rankings for the remainder of the regular season.
Biggest UC fan: Jason Butt (The Telegraph) for voting the Bearcats #17. He consistently placed UC in the 21–22 range over the last few weeks before moving them all the way to #17 in Week 9. I’m not sure what he saw, but I’ll take it. 13 voters think the Bearcats are Top 20, but he’s the biggest fan.
Biggest UC hater: You know what? I think it’s time for a week off. 60-of-64 voters chose the Bearcats, which is 94%. I’ll take those results and avoid complaining for the week.