Cincinnati possesses the second-longest winning streak in the nation at 15 games, are 22-2 overall, undefeated in the American Athletic Conference and are ranked No. 11 in the country heading to Dallas on Sunday to play No. 25 SMU (4 p.m., ESPN).
The Bearcats, however, find themselves on the outside looking in this week for a top-4 seed in the NCAA tournament after the selection committee's first release. Leaving Cincinnati off the top 16 seeds was one criticism that observers had of the inaugural release. The Bearcats are a perennial NCAA tournament team and have longed embraced the image as a tough, physical and defensive-oriented style. This year is no different, as the Bearcats are tough and physical, but they also possess an offensive flair that is a far cry from some offensively challenged teams of the past.
Cincinnati is the top offensive team in the American Athletic Conference, scoring 77.0 PPG, shooting 47.2 percent of the floor and following that up with its typically great rebounding and defense. The Bearcats top the AAC in defensive efficiency while blocking 10 percent of opponents' shots.
That combination has Cincy as one of the hottest teams in the nation with 15 straight wins, the school's longest win streak since winning 15 consecutive games during the 2013-14 season and the second-longest active streak in Division I (Gonzaga - 25). The last time the Bearcats had a longer win streak was during the 2001-02 season (20 straight).
The Bearcats are strong on offense and defense and boast four players averaging in double figures led by Kyle Washington at 13.8 PPG. Add in the steady Troy Caupain, who averages 4.6 assists and 10.5 points, and the Bearcats have the tools to be a factor come March. Caupain's 3.9 assist-to-turnover ratio is fourth-best in Division I behind Iowa State's Monte Morris at 5.5.
According to ESPN's Basketball Power Index, Cincinnati has an 82 percent chance to win at least a share of the regular-season conference title even before Sunday's game against second-place SMU (21-4, 11-1).