The University of Cincinnati and Xavier University men’s basketball teams are both among the top 10 teams in the Associated Press Top 25 poll for the first time since 1958.
Xavier (18-3) checks in at No. 8, up from No. 11 last week. UC (17-2) moved from No. 12 to No. 9 this week, which marks its best ranking since 2013-14 when the Bearcats climbed to No. 7.
Both are coming off 2-0 weeks.
Here are seven things to know about the two programs:
1. Stacking up against the top 25
Xavier is 2-1 against Top 25 teams, including Saturday’s win over No. 19 Seton Hall – the Musketeers’ first ever win there – and a Dec. 2 win over the Bearcats. Their loss was against No. 1 Villanova.
UC is 0-2 against ranked teams with the other loss coming against then No. 5 Florida on Dec. 9 in the game following the matchup against Xavier. The Bearcats are 2-2 overall against top 50 RPI teams and Xavier is 3-2.
2. Strength of schedule
This Xavier team has been impressive so far against tough competition, as evidenced by its No. 3 RPI ranking. The Musketeers’ strength of schedule is the 10th toughest. Statistically, they average 84.5 points per game with a scoring margin of plus-11.5.
UC is No. 25 in RPI, with a strength of schedule rated No. 132. The Bearcats are on a 10-game win streak and they average 77.7 points per game with a scoring margin of plus-20.3, which ranks third nationally. Their 57.4 points allowed per game ranks second and they are third in opponent’s field goal percentage at 36.9.
Both teams are perfect at home.
3. Conference standings
The Musketeers are second in the Big East at 6-2 with back-to-back road losses against Providence and Villanova earlier this month. They host Villanova on Feb. 17 and get another shot at Providence at home on Feb. 28.
The Bearcats lead the American Athletic Conference at 6-0 but still have two games against No. 17 Wichita State (15-4, 5-2 AAC).
4. Statistical leaders
Trevon Bluiett leads Xavier with 19.1 points per game, while J.P. Macura adds 13.4 points. Macura was named Big East Player of the Week after averaging 21.5 points in two games last week, including a career-high 27 points versus Seton Hall. He had 18 of his points in the second half alone.
UC has four players averaging in double digits for scoring. Jacob Evans leads the team with 13.9 points per game, Gary Clark adds 12.8 points, Kyle Washington has 11.0 points and Jarron Cumberland chips in 10.8 points per game.
Clark was named The American’s Co-Player of the Week (along with SMU guard Shake Milton), after posting back-to-back double-doubles, averaging 15.5 points and 14.5 rebounds while shooting 48.3 percent (14 of 29) from the floor in a 2-0 week for the Bearcats.
5. All-time wins leader
With an 88-82 win over St. John’s on Jan. 17, Chris Mack became Xavier’s all-time winningest coach, overtaking his friend, mentor and former coach Pete Gillen, who was 202-75 with the Musketeers from 1985 to 1994.
Mack, who played for Gillen before graduating in 1992, now sits at 204-94 after adding another win last week against Seton Hall.
6. Gaining ground
Mick Cronin still has a ways to go to catch up to UC’s all-time wins leader Bob Huggins, who was 398-128 from 1990 to 2005. In 12 years with the program, Cronin is 254-137, which puts him at No. 2 all-time for the Bearcats.
7. Coming up
Xavier hosts Marquette at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, while UC is home against Temple at 9 p.m. Wednesday.
The Musketeers’ remaining games against Providence and Villanova will likely determine their seeding for the Big East tournament. The Bearcats’ biggest games coming up are against No. 17 Wichita State at home on Feb. 18 and on the road March 4 and against Houston (15-4, 5-2 AAC) at home Jan. 31 and on the road Feb. 15.
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