| The News Record)
As if the AP Poll itself wasn’t meaningless enough, there is actually a story behind the story. There’s a tiny number next to teams in the Top 25, but there are a ton of little things going on behind that number. Breaking the Poll is a series that breaks down the AP voters and dissects why the Bearcats are ranked where they are. (This series is made possible by College Poll Tracker.)
The Cincinnati Bearcats keep moving the chains, as they rise another spot in the AP Poll to reach #19. They’ve now steadily risen seven slots in seven weeks as the Red & Black have continued to pick off American Athletic Conference competition.
This week’s poll is notable for Cincinnati for a couple of reasons. First, it marks the first time every voter has ranked the Bearcats since Week 4 (November 30) of last season, when they were ranked 17th. Second, the Bearcats received their highest vote this week (two voters placed them at #13) since Week 5 (December 7) of last season. This is Cincinnati’s best poll position in more than a full calendar year, and it comes despite the tremendous disrespect the AAC is gotten (and rightfully so). The fact that this conference has a team in the Top 20 is remarkable.
What’s nearly as remarkable is that SMU will crack the ranking in the next week or two if they can handle business. The Ponies sit at #27 this week, just 14 points behind #25 Florida. It would be great if the Bearcats could sneak in another Top 25 game (on the road!) when they play the Mustangs in Dallas on February 12.
Something to keep an eye on: Mick Cronin’s record for most weeks in the Top 25 in a single season. The 2012–13 team was ranked for 13 of 19 weeks. This team has already been ranked 9 of 12. The final team of the Bob Huggins era (2004–05) was ranked for 14 of 19 weeks, so these Bearcats could wind up being the “most ranked” UC team since 2003–04 (those guys were ranked all season.)
This week’s position at #19 is a bit weird for me. On one hand, I’m glad we’re finally where we should’ve been a few weeks ago. This team is good, and has wins and losses that stack up against most teams in the poll. We’re stuck right behind some solid teams like Duke (who just lost) and West Virginia, and I’d have a hard time arguing we should be ahead of those guys given the resumes through Sunday. However, a 17–2 team with some quality wins and no bad losses having to punch its way to #19 does seem a bit unfair, especially when a 17–2 St. Mary’s team (with no kind of resume) is right on our tail. It’s 2017, and the AP voters essentially think the Bearcats are the same as the second best team in the WCC.
Brutal. Just keep winning.
Biggest UC fan: Chris Dachille, again, for giving the Bearcats their highest vote at #13. Chris is an American hero and a role model for our children. Here is where he’s had the Bearcats since the New Year: 18, 18, 16, 13. It seems like Dachille and UC fans are on the same page as to where this team should’ve been this whole time. Thanks, Chris. I love you.
Biggest UC hater: It’s hard to complain when everyone is finally voting for UC, but I need to pick someone. John Feinstein, who didn’t rank the Bearcats last week, woke up and stuck them at #14 this week, so he’s off the chopping block. That means that I’ve got to look at Mike Barber (Richmond Times-Dispatch). Mike has the Bearcats way down at #23, while bane of my existence St. Mary’s sits at #18. Mike, if you’re reading this, I want 500 words on how this makes a lick of sense. Also making no sense, 5-loss Xavier in the Top 20 and 15–4 West Virginia at #11, seven spots higher than their ranking in the composite AP Poll. Mike, buddy, I’m worried about you.