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The way Bearcats finish is crucial for NCAA hopes

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   We're here today to discuss the month of February. All hearts, presidents and groundhogs aside, it's a month when college basketball teams make their moves to earn NCAA Tournament bids.

   Or not.

   We're looking closely at this because, well, the Bearcats are going to be on the bubble for an NCAA berth. What they do in the next six weeks will determine whether they can return to the NCAA for the first time since Bob Huggins left in 2005.

   In Mick Cronin's three years as UC's coach, the Bearcats are a combined 8-20 in regular-season games after Feb. 1, including 7-12 the past two seasons. Cincinnati's February record since Huggins is 11-17 (three seasons under Cronin and one under Andy Kennedy).

   Last year's team had a shot at an NCAA bid, then lost 5 of 6 regular-season games and its first Big East Conference tournament game. That turned a 17-8 record into an 18-14 finish with no postseason. The year before, UC was 13-12, then finished the season with seven consecutive losses

   In 2006-07, Cronin's first year, the Bearcats were 9-3, then finished their season losing 11 of 12 games.

   To be fair, Huggins' teams were more talented and were not playing in the powerful Big East Conference.

   Still, in 16 years Huggins only had a losing record after Feb. 1 twice (2002-03, 1994-95) with a total regular-season winning percentage of 68% after Feb. 1.

   The remaining nine games this season are not easy. They include four teams in the top 10 (Syracuse, West Virginia, Villanova and Georgetown).

   Below is a look at UC's late-season record over the past 20 years.

 

  

Mick Cronin

Year       February record           After Feb. 1 (regular season)

2008-09              4-3                               4-6                               

2007-08              3-3                               3-6                               

2006-07              1-7                               1-8                               

Total                8-13                              8-20

 

Andy Kennedy

2005-06              3-4                               4-4                               

 

Bob Huggins

2004-05              5-3                                7-3                               

2003-04              5-3                                6-4       

2002-03              3-4                                4-6

2001-02              6-2                                7-2       

2000-01              5-2                                7-2

1999-2000          6-1                                8-1

1998-99             5-3                                5-3       

1997-98             7-2                                7-2

1996-97            10-1                              10-2

1995-96             7-2                                7-3

1994-95             2-4                                3-6

1993-94             4-4                                5-4

1992-93             6-3                                7-3

1991-92             7-1                                8-1

1990-91             5-4                                5-4

1989-90             6-2                                6-3

Total                89-41                            102-49

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