Cincinnati Basketball has agreed to play the Howard Bison on the road for the upcoming season. But could that be a trap game for the Bearcats?
It’s the first year for Cincinnati Basketball in the Big 12, arguably the best basketball conference in the sport. So from a scheduling standpoint, the Bearcats don’t have to play against too many marquee opponents in the non-conference. They’re now able to be choosier in whom they schedule agreements.
Reportedly, Cincinnati has scheduled a home-and-home with the Howard Bison, the winners of the MEAC regular season and conference tournament titles last season. It’s a surprising move since power conference programs don’t usually make these kinds of moves for mid-majors, especially those that come from the MEAC and SWAC leagues.
Under head coach Kenny Blakeney, Howard has turned from a team that won just a few games years ago to now leading the MEAC. And the program is built to continue winning, thanks to the transfer portal. That does go both ways though, with its top two scorers (Elijah Hawkins and Steve Settle) leaving for Minnesota and Temple this offseason.
The Bison did land some key pieces out of the portal as well. Jordan Hairston missed last season but has a career 8.7 ppg average at UNC Asheville and Texas A&M Corpus-Christi. Isaiah Warfield is a 6’4 guard from Liberty looking for a larger role, as is former Notre Dame forward, Dom Campbell.
The key is Ohio State transfer Seth Towns. He’s entering his 7th year in college basketball due to injuries at both Harvard and Ohio State but he is a former Ivy League Player of the Year in 2018, averaging 16.0 ppg and 5.7 rpg. If he’s healthy, he could be the best player in the MEAC this season. Plus, returning key players Shy Odom and Marcus Dockery are ready for leading roles as well.
Cincinnati should still feel good about its roster in comparison, though there are a couple of waiver situations that need to be handled. But as any college basketball knows, true road environments can be incredibly tricky. Especially those you aren’t taking serious to begin with. The Bearcats will be favored when they meet but don’t expect this to be an easy out.