Feb 22, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats guard Sean Kilpatrick (23) in the first half against the Louisville Cardinals at FifthThird Arena. Louisville defeated Cincinnati 58-57. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

UC Bearcats Basketball: How The Louisville Loss Affects Cincinnati's AAC Championship Ambitions

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Cincinnati lost to Louisville in almost unbelievable fashion yesterday. It was a tough pill to swallow but we need to move on quickly and turn our attention to the rest of the season. I touched on this in the game recap but wanted to elaborate in a full post.

Despite the loss, UC still has a lead in the AAC standings but the road to a conference title is a bit more complicated now. They are 1/2 game up on Louisville with 3 to play. But the Cardinals have a chance to tie the Bearcats if (when) they beat Temple on Thursday. That will leave the fate of the AAC championship to both teams’ last three opponents.

  • Cincinnati: @ #21 UConn, #22 Memphis, @ Rutgers
  • Louisville: @ #22 Memphis, @ SMU, #21 UConn

As you look at those lineups, Louisville clearly has the tougher slate of games. Both teams play the Huskies and Tigers, and the roadie for Cincinnati in Storrs is far more difficult than Memphis is for the Cardinals, but it’s the differentiators that could decide the AAC championship. Louisville has the unfortunate task of going to the Moody Coliseum and do what no other team has done yet this year, beat SMU on their home court. For the Bearcats, they take on Rutgers during their last game of the regular season. While it’s on the road, the 10-17 Scarlet Knights don’t scare anyone and assuming Cincinnati stays healthy for the next two weeks should handle them easily.

Plus, if Louisville loses to SMU and Cincinnati drops anyone of their games, the Mustangs all of a sudden jolt into the AAC title picture. As of now the Mustangs are just 2 1/2 games back but any mistakes by the teams at the top would create a giant cluster in the championship race. The same goes for Memphis who are also 2 1/2 games back and can affect their destiny by taking down Louisville and Cincinnati over the next two weeks.

So it’s unclear just how the Bearcats and Cardinals will fare in their final three games (or SMU and Memphis for that matter) but the argument can be made that Louisville has the tougher road. In essence the Bearcats just have to keep winning and take it a game at a time. They have a week off before travelling to UConn on Saturday and facing their nemesis Shabazz Napier. Beating the Huskies and getting a little help from Louisville’s opponents will go a long way to placing some AAC hardware in the Lindner Center trophy case.

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