This week is probably the worst week for UC basketball that involves games being played. That's because Cincinnati is slated to face two of the five worst teams, according to Ken Pom, they have ever played during the Mick Cronin era. Don't believe me? I ranked the 30 worst, and later 5 best, non-conference opponents Cincinnati has played under Mick Cronin. Tonight's game with UMass Lowell is the 5th worst. Friday night's game against Kennesaw State is even worse. Take a gander.
- 345 - Maryland Eastern-Shore -2013
- 340 - Mississippi Valley State -2013
- 335 - Kennesaw State - 2014
- 334 - Toledo - 2011
- 333 - UMass Lowell - 2014
- 333 - Chicago State - 2012
- 332- Tennessee-Martin -2013
- 331 -Texas Southern - 2009
- 330 - Howard - 2007
- 328 - Georgia Southern - 2011
- 327 - Toledo - 2010
- 325 - Arkansas Pine-Bluff - 2012
- 325 - Florida A&M - 2011
- 324- Alabama St - 2012
- 318 - Tennessee-Martin - 2007
- 316 - Radford - 2012
- 312 - Chicago State - 2014
- 311 - Prarie View A&M - 2010
- 310 - Charleston Southern - 2009
- 302 - Arkansas-Pine Bluff - 2009
- 301 - Campbell -2013
- 299 - Campbell- 2014
- 294 - Western Illinois - 2009
- 286 - USC Upstate - 2008
- 283 - Coastal Carolina - 2008
- 282 - Coastal Carolina - 2009
- 281 - Appalachian State - 2014
- 280 - Savannah State - 2011
- 279 - Cal State Bakersfield - 2010
- 270 - Texas Southern - 2010
South Dakota - 2009 - does not have a Ken Pom rating
Howard in 2007 was the very first game in the Mick Cronin era. The Bearcats took on one of the 7 worst teams in the country. It was a nice welcome mat.
Here's a break down of opponents by year:
2014 - 5 - 335 - Kennesaw State, 333 - UMass Lowell, 312 - Chicago State, 299 - Campbell, 281 - Appalachian State
2009 - 5 - 331 -Texas Southern, 310 - Charleston Southern, 302 - Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 294 - Western Illinois, 282 - Coastal Carolina
2013 - 4 - 345 - Maryland Eastern-Shore, 340 - Mississippi Valley State, 332- Tennessee-Martin, 301 - Campbell
2012 - 4- 333 - Chicago State, 325 - Arkansas Pine-Bluff, 324- Alabama St, 316 - Radford
2011 - 4 - 334 - Toledo, 328 - Georgia Southern, 325 - Florida A&M, 280 - Savannah State
2010 - 4 - 327 - Toledo, 311 - Prarie View A&M, 279 - Cal State Bakersfield , 270 - Texas Southern
2008 - 2 - 286 - USC Upstate, 283 - Coastal Carolina
2007 - 2 - 330 - Howard, 318 - Tennessee-Martin
Keep in mind that the Ken Pom rankings for this year are very fluid. Cincinnati is slated to play 5 of their worst non-conference opponents ever under Mick Cronin. The piling on of awful teams has been a more recent trend. After getting his ass kicked in his first two years, it's easy to see why Mick would want some easier competition.
The strategy can hurt. The 2011 team was dogged because of a very poor non-conference slate until they won three games against ranked teams to close the season. The 2012 team had to win some big games late in the year against Louisville and Marquette to make sure they would go dancing again after losing to Presbyterian, who was in the bottom 40 or so of this list. It hung doubt on them all year. Last year, 3 of the 4 games were the 3 of the 4 games to start the season. The schedule was boosted by Iowa State, Oregon and New Mexico.
This season, Cincinnati has no poll traction with their start. They have 7 points in the AP poll and 0 in the coaches poll. They are off the radar until they go to New Mexico. Money games like these are a great way to build your team up. They have a lot of benefit coaching wise I'm sure. They haven't had an impact attendance wise for UC. They haven't had an impact in perception. Worst of all, they make weeks like this a bit of a chore. Sure, most of us will be watching. If you are going to miss a couple of games, these are the ones you would miss. Games like these give fans a reason to tune out. There is a reason these games are played, but that doesn't mean we have to be excited about them. Especially with 4 of the worst 5 coming in the two seasons. I'm more concerned no one gets hurt this week than I am about anything else. That's not really how basketball is meant to be enjoyed. Such is the business of college basketball.
For reference, these are the numbers of teams that Ken Pom tracks per year. 351 in 2014, 345 in 2013, 2012, 2011, 347 in 2010, 344 in 2009, 341 in 2008 and 336 in 2007.
If you were wondering who the top 5 opponents were, wonder no longer.
- 9 - Memphis - 2007
- 8 - Pittsburgh - 2014
- 2 - Ohio State - 2007
- 2 - Memphis - 2009
- 2 - Memphis - 2008