Checking out local team’s road to championship


photoshop by Andrew Schenkel

Xavier, Ohio State, Dayton, Cincinnati, and Kentucky are all looking to win their conference tournaments and get an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

After watching one local team, the Northern Kentucky Norse, shine in the Horizon League Conference Tournament, it’s time to turn our attention toward the bigger local teams fighting their way to an NCAA Tournament bid. For some (Cincinnati, Dayton, Kentucky), their conference tournaments are just another chance to improve their seeding that will be announced this upcoming Sunday. However, for two local teams (Ohio State and Xavier), their conference tournaments are crucial to show the Selection Committee that they deserve to be invited to this years’ Big Dance.

Senior Troy Caupain is looking to finish off his career at Cincinnati with a tournament run.

Cincinnati Bearcats (27-4, 16-2 AAC):

RPI: 14

SOS: 73

Good Wins: @ Iowa State, vs. SMU, vs. Xavier

Bad Losses: none

The Cincinnati Bearcats enter the American Athletic Conference Tournament in very good position to win the title and jump a few seed lines in the NCAA Tournament. Currently, in most expert opinions, are sitting on the five line but with quality wins such as a road win in Hilton Colosseum against the Iowa State Cyclones as well as a home win against the SMU Mustangs, they could easily move up to a three or four seed if they can take home the conference championship. However, what is holding the Bearcats back is their inconsistency on the offensive side toward the end of the year. In their final ten games, the Bearcats were held at or below sixty points in four games including their only two conference losses and a buzzer-beater by senior Troy Caupain to escape Tulsa with a win. If the Cincinnati defense can play as solid as they have been all season (allowing 60.2 ppg, fourth in the NCAA), they should be fine come tournament time. To check out Cincinnati’s path to the conference title, click here.

Dayton Flyers (24-6, 15-3 A-10)

RPI: 21

Joe Robbins
The Dayton Flyers are primed for another run in March.

SOS: 70

Good Wins: vs. Vanderbilt, vs. Rhode Island, @ Rhode Island, vs. VCU

Bad Losses: @ Massachusetts

Despite an excellent recent history in the NCAA Tournament, the Dayton Flyers come into postseason play as one of the least talked about teams in college basketball. With an Atlantic 10 regular season championship and winning nine of their previous ten games, the Flyers have shown that they are one of the hottest teams in the country. This Flyer team is lead by multiple seniors and juniors that have prior NCAA Tournament experience, including being members of the 2014 Elite Eight team, and have shown that they can make plays during crunch time. As of now, Dayton is currently projected around an eight seed and if I was a top team in the same region as the Flyers, I would keep an eye on them. To see how Dayton can win the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament, click here.

De’aaron Fox and Malik Monk have been superstars for the Kentucky Wildcats this season.

Kentucky Wildcats (26-5, 16-2 SEC)

RPI: 6

SOS: 23

Good Wins: vs. North Carolina (neutral), vs. Arkansas, vs. South Carolina, vs. Florida

Bad Losses: none

Like almost every year, the Kentucky Wildcats have once again reloaded with young talent and are right in the middle of the National Championship race. With solid wins against contenders North Carolina and Florida, the Wildcats have shown that they can still hang with the big guys despite having a team consisting of mostly young guys. On paper, five losses for a team like Kentucky may not look very good. However, four of those five have come against legitimate title contenders including the UCLA Bruins, the Louisville Cardinals, the Kansas Jayhawks, and the Florida Gators. Although Kentucky is the favorite to win the SEC Tournament this year, the Wildcats and their fans are looking for a bigger title. To see who the Wildcats will face in the SEC Tournament, click here.

Ohio State Buckeyes (17-14, 7-11 Big 10)

If Ohio State wants to keep their season going, Jae’Sean Tate will need to be spectacular.

RPI: 79

SOS: 34

Good Wins: vs. Michigan St., vs. Minnesota, @ Michigan, vs. Wisconsin

Bad Losses: vs. Florida Atlantic

Throughout the regular season, the Ohio State Buckeyes have shown that they are a talented team with wins over the Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Wisconsin Badgers. However, the Buckeyes have also shown how bad of a team they can be with a loss to the Florida Atlantic Owls. Although Ohio State has struggled as of late, losing four of their final six games, they still have a shot to pull a UCONN Huskies in the weaker Big Ten and become the Cinderella story of Champ Week. To see how the Buckeyes can write their own Cinderella story, click here.

Trevon Bluiett will need to be focus to ensure his Musketeers a spot in the big dance.

Xavier Musketeers (19-12, 9-9 Big East)

RPI: 33

SOS: 12

Good Wins: vs. Wake Forest, vs. Seton Hall, @ Creighton, vs. Providence

Bad Losses: @ Colorado

The Xavier Musketeers are having a terrible end to their regular season, there’s really no other way of putting it. After starting off 18-6, the Musketeers have completely fallen apart while losing six of their final seven games and losing their star point guard, Edmond Sumner, for the year with a torn ACL. After winning their final regular season game against DePaul, Xavier fans can feel a little of the safer side regarding whether or not their Musketeers will be playing in a little over a week. To get the full breakdown of Xavier’s road to the Big East Championship, click here.

Although you may consider yourself a Bearcat, Flyer, Wildcat, Buckeye, or Musketeer fan, it’s always nice to see a local team be successful in their respective conference tournaments and even the NCAA Tournament. Look out to see how each of these five teams play during the rest of March.