Getting ready to head down to FedExForum for the Memphis – Cincy game and it’s feeling a lot like the 1990’s:
- Memphis is playing Cincinnati. Memphis played Cincinnati twice a year or more in the 1990’s and became fierce rivals during Bob Huggins glory years at UC. The 2 urban schools continued their rivalry for a few years after Cincinnati departed CUSA for the BIG EAST in 2005, but the series was finally dropped in 2009 until resuming last year with the creation of the American Athletic Conference.
- Memphis is in a start-up conference with Cincinnati. The AAC isn’t the first start up conference for these 2 programs. Memphis and Cincinnati were two of the founding members of the Great Midwest Conference in 1991. The longtime rivals were almost a part of an expanded Metro Conference which would have become the first collegiate super-conference (w/ football). Had the expanded Metro come into fruition, UM and UC’s place in the college athletics food chain would be drastically different today. Instead, they chose to create the basketball-centric Great Midwest.
- Memphis has regressed to the caliber of program they were in the 1990’s. The John Calipari era (2000-2009) seems like a distant dream right now. In the 1990’s Memphis was a program that appreciated making the tournament, and relished a post-season run – like the one Anfernee Hardaway’s Tigers made in 1992 before losing in the Elite 8 to Cincinnati (for the 4th time that year). Fan expectations aside, this is basically where the program is today.
- Cincinnati is still Cincinnati. Though he’s on medical leave at the moment, Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin has continued the bruising, tough guy tradition of the Bearcat program built under guys like Herb Jones, Nick Van Excel, Corie Blount, Kenyon Martin, and Steve Logan. Games with the Bearcats in the 1990’s were physical wars – and tonight shouldn’t be any different – though the talent level may not be quite the same.
Though Cincinnati is currently ranked 34 in the CBSSPORTS.com RPI, the match-up tonight with Memphis (ranked 113) is considered a toss up by the smart guys in Vegas.
Should be a fun night -90’s night- at FedExForum.