Are the Bearcats for Real (Part Deux)?

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I wrote this on Dec. 6 about the UC Bearcats men's basketball team: “... it looks like the ’Cats could open the year with a 12-0 record and no doubt a spot in the Top 25."

Well, here we are a few weeks later and UC is 12-0 … but without a spot in the Top 25. The latest AP poll has the ’Cats at No. 29, a position that's hard to argue against given UC's epically weak schedule (the most recent RPI poll has them at No. 95, with a strength of schedule ranking of 340 out of 346 Division I teams). —-

We'll begin this week to find out whether Mick Cronin's fifth UC team is for real, as the Big East schedule opens tonight with a home game against DePaul. That's followed by two more home games — Friday against Seton Hall and Jan. 6's Crosstown Shootout against Xavier, always an unpredictable matchup no matter each team's talents.

That said, it's certainly possible UC could be 15-0 heading into its toughest game to date, on the road Jan. 9 at No. 8 Villanova.

So what I asked a few weeks ago is still an open question: Can UC go 9-9 in Big East conference play, which would seem enough to yield that elusive NCAA bid?

We should begin to find out this week.

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