Nick Williams celebrates following Cincinnati’s 2004 C-USA Tournament championship. (Ernest Coleman | Cincinnati Enquirer | Newspapers.com)
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.)
When the Bearcats lost to SMU in Dallas, they plummeted to #18 in the AP Poll. They steadied themselves, won two games, and were right back to #15. When they lost to UCF in Orlando, they fell right back to #18. They steadied themselves, won two games, and now return to #15 today with the release of the Week 18 AP Poll.
This week brings a milestone, as the Bearcats have been ranked for 15 weeks, longer than any UC team since the 2003–04 squad remained in the Top 25 all season. Those guys won their conference tournament (pictured above). The Bearcats haven’t won one since. Maybe that’s a good omen.
In 2014, the Bearcats were also ranked at #15 in Week 18 of the AP Poll. They snuck up to #13 in the final poll before the NCAA Tournament. If the Bearcats can come home victorious in Hartford, they’ll likely beat that mark. Cincinnati hasn’t entered March Madness ranked higher than #13 since 2002.
As is common in these polls, there’s a huge gap in the middle. #12 SMU has 849 points and #13 Purdue has 839. Between #13 and #14, there exists a gap, followed by a cluster where the Bearcats sit with Duke, Florida State, and Florida. The four teams ranked #14–17 are separated by just 50 points.
Elsewhere in the AAC, SMU is up to #12. It’s their highest mark of the season and the best since Week 13 (2/1) last year. In other relevant rankings, Butler falls to #18 and Iowa State rises to #23.
The Bearcats have another shot at a “gimme” win on Friday when the face the winner of Tulane and Tulsa. After that, it will likely be Houston, which is another chance for a solid win. Beat them and the likely opponent is #12 SMU, which could be huge for a last-second resume boost. There are still some opportunities for the Bearcats to improve their stock. Big weekend for UC coming up.
Biggest fan/hater coming soon. Individual voter polls were not available through College Poll Tracker at the time of this writing.