Well folks, it’s March again, and for the ninth straight season, your Cincinnati Bearcats have been selected to play in the NCAA Tournament. After a win over Houston in the American Conference Championship gave the Cats an auto-bid, the committee matched Cincinnati up against Iowa as seven seed in Columbus.
Many people, myself included, believed a seven seed seemed a little high after beating Houston, but the game being played just a few hours up I-71 will be huge for creating a home-court atmosphere.
Iowa finished the season at 22-11, going 10-10 in Big Ten play. This year marks Iowa’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2016, which resulted in a second round loss against a sixth-seeded Villanova team that would eventually win the national championship. The Hawkeyes come into the big dance following an early exit in the Big Ten Tournament coming at the hands of Michigan. Iowa has additionally only won two games out of their last eight, which could be a major factor in Friday’s game.
The Hawkeyes are led by junior forward Tyler Cook, who averaged 15 points per game and 8 rebounds a game thus far, and also earned himself an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention earlier this month. Jordan Bohannon, a junior guard, will also be a player to keep an eye out for as Bohannon is the Hawkeyes’ primary ball handler who averages 11.3 points per game and 3.4 assists per game, and one of three Hawkeyes to start in each one of Iowa’s games this season.
Hopefully, the Cats should be able to carry over the momentum gained in the American Conference Tournament and get by the first round for the third straight season. If they do end up taking care of Iowa, they’ll likely end up playing second-seeded Tennessee on Sunday for a trip to the Sweet Sixteen. All in all, it’s been a great season in Clifton, and a big time tournament win would be a great change of pace after the last few seasons ending in disappointing fashion.