Mick Cronin needed time to get his program into the upper half of the Big East, and that time has come. After several years of falling short, last season's team overachieved and earned an NCAA bid -- and won a game while there. This season the Bearcats have a go-to low-post threat in Yancy Gates and an experienced perimeter with Cashmere Wright, Dion Dixon and Sean Kilpatrick. Cincy is now expected to be a top-six team in the Big East, which essentially equates to being a Sweet 16 contender. How this squad handles those expectations will be known rather quickly. The schedule is soft; Cincinnati should roll into league play. If it doesn't, something will have seriously gone wrong. Don't count on that happening.
-- Andy Katz