The Mustangs won their 16th straight game on Sunday, taking the American Athletic Conference championship with a 71-56 victory over Cincinnati.
Wisconsin: The Badgers thought they had recovered from a run of five losses in six games, but this dud of a performance might change that perspective and force them to make adjustments before heading into the NCAA Tournament.
UConn: The Huskies, who have three players out for the season with injuries, have knocked Cincinnati out of the conference tournament three straight years. Sterling Brown led the effort for SMU by scoring 18 points, 12 of which came in the second half. Houston hit 41.3 percent of its shots and was 6 for 19 on 3-pointers. Coach-in-waiting Tim Jankovich was quickly thrust into the position. Even after Sunday's loss to SMU, the Bearcats posted a 29-5 record to this point and were a lock for most bracketologists throughout the season. They're just numbers. It's like the preseason rankings. The Mustangs never trailed in the game.
"From that, there was no looking back", said Brown.
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"They've been absolutely fabulous all season long", Jankovich said. A 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer by Ben Emelogu from just inside the midcourt logo gave the Mustangs a 32-23 lead. The Bearcats shot 24 percent from the field in the first half and were 1-of-12 from three-point range. The Mustangs are a team that could very well make it to the Sweet 16.
The next game both teams will play will come in the first round of the NCAA Tournament as they await their seeds.
In 2015, SMU beat Cincy, 62-54, in the conference tournament championship.
"We had an unbelievable year", Bearcats coach Mick Cronin said. If SMU wins, it will play Baylor in the next round. "I think my teammates are doing a great job being able to present me with some possessions".
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Cincinnati reached today's championship game by routing Tulsa 80-61 as a 15.5-point favorite and then soundly beating UConn 81-71 as a 9.5-point favorite. Time will tell what these two teams can do in the tournament. "Our chemistry is as high as any team in the country".
The 34 games played so far were just a prelude.
NOTES ON THE DEFENSE: Cincinnati has held 26 of its 33 opponents this season under 70 points and held 18 foes below 40 percent field goal shooting.
Cincinnati, the tournament's No. 2 seed, last won a conference tournament in 2004 (Conference USA). It will open play in the South Region on Friday in Sacramento, California against the victor of the Kansas State/Wake Forest game.
Marquette will Play Friday in the NCAA Tournament
The Golden Eagles are headed to Greenville as a 10 seed to take on the seven-seeded South Carolina Gamecocks on Friday. The victor of that East Regional opener will likely face No. 2 seed Duke, which opens against No. 15 seed Troy.