Cincinnati lost for the fifth time in six games on Sunday at Notre Dame (Getty Images)
Even after Cincinnati reeled off 12 straight wins to start the season, opened Big East play with a victory at Pittsburgh and surged to an 18-4 record in early February, there was concern the Bearcats might not have enough firepower to sustain that success.
Three weeks later, that skepticism appears to have some merit.
A Cincinnati team once a fixture in the top 20 in the polls has backpedaled to the point that an NCAA tournament bid is no longer a certainty. Sunday's 62-41 no-show at Notre Dame was the Bearcats' fifth loss in six games, a stretch that sent them tumbling to a tie for 10th place in the Big East at 19-9 overall and 7-8 in league play.
Quality wins over Marquette, Pittsburgh, Oregon and Iowa State are enough to prevent Cincinnati from dropping below a No. 10 or 11 seed in most bracket projections, but the Bearcats are under pressure to emerge from this skid. They've fallen to No. 51 in the RPI and their next two games are against Connecticut and Louisville before a very winnable regular season finale at home against last-place South Florida.
If Cincinnati can win two of its final three regular season games, its spot in the NCAA tournament should be secure regardless of what happens in the Big East tournament. Anything less than that, however, and the Bearcats might need a win or two at Madison Square Garden to feel safe.
That makes Saturday's home game against UConn vital to Cincinnati, but it's hard to like the Bearcats' chances considering how anemic their offense has been lately.Read More »from Cincinnati’s late skid puts its NCAA tournament hopes in jeopardy