Location: Cincinnati (duh)
Conference: American Athletic Conference
Coach: Mick Cronin (Larry Davis, interim)
Record: 22-10 (13-5)
Kenpom ranking: 34
Good wins (Kenpom ranking): SMU x2 (22) San Diego State (27) @ NC State (39)
Bad losses (Kenpom ranking): Tulane (230) @ East Carolina (220) @ Nebraska 132
Tournament appearances: 29 (current streak: 5)
Best result: Champions (twice, most recently 1962)
NBA alumni: Lance Stephenson, Kenyon Martin, Oscar Robertson
Best name: Ge'Lawn Guyn
Famous alumni: The guy who invented the EZ Bake Oven, George Clooney (did not graduate)
In December, coach Mick Cronin found out he had an unruptured brain aneurysm. Coaching can raise your blood pressure. Raised blood pressure is VERY BAD for unruptured brain aneurysms. So he stepped away from coaching for the rest of the season. But the team reacted well to the scary news, turning in a solid AAC season under interim Larry Davis. (Cronin has been helping behind the scenes and will hopefully be back next year.)
Style of play: Bearing down
If you hear an announcer criticizing a Cincinnati game as "ugly," they're doing what they want to do. The Bearcats are bolstered by an efficient defense -- opponents score just 92.9 points per 100 possessions, 17th fewest in the nation -- and play very slowly -- they have the 340th fastest pace out of 351 teams in college basketball.
Key player: Augustus Caesar
Stringy 6'10 center Octavius Ellis provides an athletic backline to allow Cincinnati's grime to happen. Cincinnati misses a lot of shots, but Ellis picks a good portion of them up, a lot of his team-leading 10.0 points per game coming off offensive glass. And he's good enough at shotblocking to add to the hideous slog that is a team playing against Cincinnati.
Bearcats are real
I want to lay to rest the common misconception that Cincinnati (and other teams named "Bearcats") are referencing some mythical, half-bear, half-cat creature. There is a real animal called the bearcat -- the more technical name is "binturong" -- and it lives in Southeast Asia. The Cincinnati Zoo has one. Her name is Lucy. She has musk glands that emit a scent that smells like popcorn. She has silly whiskers.