CINCINNATI – The University of Cincinnati men’s basketball team unofficially kicked off its first year in the fledgling American Athletic Conference on Wednesday with the release of its schedule for the 2013-14 season.
The 31-game regular-season includes 18 contests in the inaugural season of the conference. The Bearcats will play home-and-away dates against all nine AAC opponents, which includes Connecticut, Houston, Louisville, Memphis, Rutgers, SMU, South Florida, Temple and UCF.
Overall, Cincinnati is scheduled to play 20 contests against opponents that won at least 20 games last season and 10 games against 2012-13 NCAA Championship participants.
While television assignments have not been determined for some nonconference games, UC will appear on national television at least 23 times - including every conference game.
Head coach Mick Cronin thinks the schedule sets up his team to make some noise in March.
“This schedule will help our team develop throughout the course of the season and prepare us for postseason play,” said Cronin, who leads a program that has advanced to postseason play 32 times and claimed conference champions in 30 seasons.
“There is a good mix of styles and tempos in the nonconference schedule and playing in the American brings the defending national champions and several highly ranked teams to our arena during the year.”
In addition to a pair of exhibition games against Carleton University (Oct. 26) and Bellarmine (Nov. 2) at home, UC plays 10 of its 13 regular-season nonconference games in the friendly confines of Fifth Third Arena.
The Bearcats will officially tip off the season with four home contests in the Global Sports Shootout beginning with North Carolina Central (Nov. 8). The Eagles finished 2012-13 at 22-9 overall and have been projected as a 2014 NCAA tournament participant by ESPN.
UC appears on national television as part of ESPN’s 24-Hour College Hoops Marathon when it plays host to NC State (Nov. 12 at 5 p.m. on ESPN). The Wolfpack finished the 2012-2013 season with a 24-11 record and advanced to the NCAA tournament.
After starting the season on a seven-game home stand to start the season, the Bearcats play three consecutive games away from Fifth Third Arena.
UC takes on New Mexico (Dec. 7 on CBSSN) at The Pit in Albuquerque; returns to the Queen City to face Xavier (Dec. 14 on FOX1) in the Crosstown Classic at U.S. Bank Arena in downtown Cincinnati; and takes on Pittsburgh (Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. on ESPN) as part of the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Cincinnati concludes its nonconference schedule with three home games in late December, highlighted by visits from 2013 NCAA tournament participant Middle Tennessee State (Dec. 21) and Big Ten Conference member Nebraska (Dec. 28 on ESPN2).
Conference play is a mix of old and new for UC, which had been in the Big East Conference since 2005 before joining with several former members of the Big East and several other conferences to form the AAC prior to this season.
The conference, which was created after the "Catholic 7" left the Big East, includes members from other five conferences including the Big East, Conference USA (C-USA), the Mid-American Conference (MAC), the Mountain West Conference and the Sun Belt Conference.
The Bearcats open play in the American at home against SMU on New Year’s Day at 6 p.m. on ESPNU.
Other league home games include contests with former BIG EAST Conference foe Rutgers (Jan. 11 on CBSSN); 2013 NCAA tournament participant Temple (Jan. 14 at 9 p.m. on CBSSN); 2013 20-game winner UCF (Jan. 23 at 9 p.m. on CBSSN); former BIG EAST Conference members USF (Feb. 2 at 12 p.m. on CBSSN) and Connecticut (Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. on ESPN or ESPN2); 2013 20-game winner Houston (Feb. 15 at 3 p.m. on ESPNU); defending national champion Louisville (Feb. 22 at 12 p.m. on CBS) and 2013 NCAA tournament participant and Conference USA champion Memphis (Mar. 6 at 7 p.m. on ESPN or ESPN2).
UC’s conference road slate has the Bearcats at Memphis (Jan. 4 at 12 p.m. on ESPN2); at Houston (Jan. 7 at 9 p.m. on CBSSN); at USF (Jan. 18 at 5 p.m. on ESPNU); at Temple (Jan. 26 at 4 p.m. on CBSSN); at Louisville (Jan. 30 at 7 p.m. on ESPN or ESPN2); at SMU (Feb. 8 at 7:30 p.m. on ESPNU); at UCF (Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. on ESPNU); at Connecticut (Mar. 1 at 12 p.m. on ESPN or ESPN2) and at Rutgers (Mar. 8 at 12 p.m. on ESPNews) in the regular-season finale.
The inaugural American Athletic Conference Championship will be held Mar. 12-16 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tenn. The 10-team tournament features a pair of first-round games on Mar. 12; four quarterfinal contests on March 13; two semifinal matchups on Mar. 15 and the championship game on Mar. 16.
All nine games of the tournament will be televised on ESPN networks.
Cincinnati’s 1,499-855 record (.635), compiled over 104 seasons, places the school among the top 30 winningest programs. Since post-World War II, the beginning of modern day college basketball, UC has a 1,161-533 ledger (.685), an average of 19.7 wins per year.
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