Busting Brackets

Bracketology 2024: Arkansas, Michigan State, and St. John's in need of avoiding a bad loss

Abilene Christian v Arkansas
Abilene Christian v Arkansas / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages
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Cincinnati Bearcats (10-2) vs. Evansville Purple Aces (10-2), Friday, Dec 29, 7:00 PM ET

The Cincinnati Bearcats may be 10-2 entering their final non-conference game against Evansville on Friday night, but they better be careful because a loss may end their hopes of an at-large chance before league play even begins. We know the Big 12 is the strongest conference in the country as is evidenced by 10 teams in the top 50 on KenPom on Christmas Eve. The problem for John Brannen’s team is that they are eighth on that list and could find making hay difficult in their first foray into Big 12 play.

Looking at Cincinnati’s resume it’s not hard to see why the Bearcats find themselves either squarely on the bubble or on the outside looking in most bracket prognostications. They are 0-2 in their only quad 1 games to date, currently have 0 top-100 NET wins and eight of their 10 wins are quad 4 wins, only one of which came on the road. As a result, their strength of schedule is just 296th and the non-conference portion, just slightly better at 289th. Their metrics are lower than most power schools in the hunt for a bid. Their results-based metrics are 60th and 58th in KPI and SOR respectively and KenPom and BPI average out to 31.5.

This game against Evansville is one that the Bearcats should win, but they better be careful because the Purple Aces (10-2) are one of the better two-point teams in the country, making 54% of their shots from inside the arc. Evansville also is good with the ball only committing 10 turnovers per game and gathering 7.5 steals per game. If the Bearcats don’t come away with a win on Friday night, their chances at an at-large bid may all but disappear.