Matt Norlander, the outstanding college basketball writer for CBS Sports, has an excellent column about UC basketball up this evening. If you like the Bearcats, or even if you don't, it's worth your time.
Here's my thought: Why isn't Cincinnati considered a top-20 program on a national level? Seems pretty definitive to me that the Bearcats have been established, both historically and in the modern era, to be just that. But you probably don't think of Cincy that way, just like a lot of other people don't, but you're wrong.
You think Cincinnati, maybe you think "tough" or maybe you think "Bob Huggins coached there and I think he got fired" or maybe you think "Oscar Robertson and Kenyon Martin played there, but I can't name anyone else."
Truth is, Cincinnati is one of just 15 programs with multiple national college basketball championships. Cincinnati ranks top 20 in all-time NCAA Tournament bids, with 30 (Kentucky's 55 is tops). The school has 1,737 wins to its name -- No. 17 on the all-time rankings. You combine those achievements with being on the short list of NCAA Tournament regulars since the early 1990s, and that's an open-and-shut case for the program's noble standing in college hoops. I don't think there's a debate, yet how could we even debate it if it's hardly acknowledged to begin with?
To get an appreciation of how hard it is to make the NCAA Tournament, consider this: Cincinnati has gone to the Big Dance six (soon to be seven) years in a row. Only five of the other 350 other Division I teams (Kansas, Duke, Michigan State, Gonzaga and Wisconsin) own longer streaks. Michigan State (13-9) is in jeopardy of having its run end this season.
So why isn't Cincy considered a national power?