Earlier this week the Cincinnati Bearcats 23-2 (12-0) were voted in as the #5 team in America. It’s the highest rating under coach Mick Cronin and the best ranking of a Bearcats team since 2002. That’s 16 years! Let’s take a trip back to 2002 real quick.
The top three songs on the Billboard Top 100 were How You Remind Me by Nickelback, Foolish by Ashanti, and Hot in Herre by Nelly.
Some of the top movie of the year were Lord of the Rings: Two Towers, Gangs of New York, and Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.
George W. Bush was in his second year of office and I was the only Bearcat fan in Middle School. American Idol was born, IPods were new, and B Rabbit punked the entire crew from Free World. What a time!
But let’s get back to basketball.
The 01-02 Bearcats finished 31-4 (14-2) and in 1st place in C-USA. They started the season unranked but started the tournament with a 1 seed. By the end of the season they were the #2 team in the country. They were led by Steve Logan, Jason Maxiell, and Leonard Stokes. Here’s the complete roster.
This team essentially had 2 NBA talents (one of which was the CPOY and first team all American), an elite lockdown defender, a high flyer, and couple unmentionables.
The interesting thing about this team is they weren’t great in any one stat. They ranked 43rd in FG%, 94th in FT%, 7th in def Rb, and 57th in assists.
Compared to this year’s team who ranks 136th in FG%, 264th in FT%, and 49th in assists.
Those stats might seem obsure but if you want to win in March FT% is a big deal and last time I checked the only way to get points in the game of basketball is putting the ball through the hoop.
This version of the Bearcats were upset in a classic March double overtime by the 8 seed, UCLA in the second round.
Now, we know this year’s roster, the storylines, the greatness that is Gary Clark, the talent that is Jacob Evans III, the physics defying that is Kyle Washington. Right now the Bearcats stand undefeated in conference play and haven’t lost since the beginning of December.
Here’s the question for you:
If matched up head to head, who ya go?
Do you go with Hugs and his 23 ppg gaurd Steve Logan? Would Cronin and this team whose depth goes on for days be too much?
Rebounds would come at a premium in this totally made up game that obviously can never take place and is only for fun. But man, watching JEIII try to defend Steve Logan would be fun and seeing Maxiell trying to defend Washington’s left half hook would be worth the ticket.
Could the 02 team match up with Clark? What about Cumberland, who checks him? How many defenders would it take to stop Steve Logan?
Ultimately the end of the season will determine where this version of the Bearcats end up in UC history. I know they’re special and look like they’re ready for a run.
In terms of the 2002 Bearcats or the 2018 Bearcats, I know who I’d pick to win it but I want to hear from you.
’02 v. ’18 Who wins?