I posted this a couple of years ago in an article responding to the media’s absurd trashing of Huggins’ legacy in defense of Mick. Inevitably it would come down to both lost early tournament games. My point was you don’t have to trash Huggins to support Mick. The bottom line is Huggins consistently produced better teams and Bearcat fans want to see Mick get to at least that level. In the process I created a ranking for every Bearcat team since Huggins arrived and grouped them into tiers. I have updated it adding the last two teams.
I have included the 2018 Bearcats at the bottom of The Great Seasons. Despite the Nevada loss I consider it a great season and the kind of season we need more of from Mick. They were 13-6 in Q1/Q2 games and finished #4 in kenpom adjusted efficiency. They won the regular season and conference tournament titles. They did everything but make a run.
I have this year’s team as another good, but not great Mick team. I have them in the middle of the good Bearcat seasons. Great record, including a great record in close games. Second in the conference and won the conference tournament against a top ten Houston team. That’s a nice accomplishment. They were also probably not quite a top 25 caliber team and lost in the first round of the tournament. There is enough back next year that there is hope UC can have a Great Season. A second great season in four years would be a huge deal for Mick and the program, especially if they make a run in March.
Here’s how I would rank every Bearcat season by accomplishments of the team since Huggins came to UC (I bolded the seasons where Mick is coach):
The Great Seasons:
1992- Final Four, Regular Season Champion, Conference Tournament Champion, Four Seed in the Tournament.
2000- Ranked Number 1 most the season, Undefeated Regular Season Conference Champions, 1st in the RPI, 10-2 against the RPI top 50, 19-3 against the RPI top 100… just a dominating season. 2 seed in the tournament. Second round exit after Kenyon injury.
1993- Elite Eight, Conference Regular Season Champions, Conference Tournament Champions, 2 seed in the tournament
1996- Elite Eight, Conference Regular Seasons Champions, Conference Tournament Champions, 2 seed,
2002- Conference Regular Season Champions, Conference Tournament Champions, 1 seed, RPI #3, 8-2 v. RPI top 50, 17-3 v. RPI top 100. #2 kenpom adjusted efficiency (first year he kept that stat). Second round exit.
2018- Conference Regular Season Champions, Conference Tournament Champions, 2 seed, 6-5 Q1 games, 7-0 Q2 games. #4 kenpom adjusted efficiency (49 offense, 2 defense). Second round exit.
The Very Good Seasons:
1999- Only 6 losses, Regular season champions, 3 seed in the tournament, won great Alaskan Shootout over Historically great Duke team. Made round of 32. 8-3 vs. RPI top 50, 12-4 over top 100.
2012- Clearly Mick’s best overall season despite a disappointing start. 4th in a loaded Big East, Conference tournament finals, sweet 16. 8-6 v. RPI top 50, 11-8 vs. top 100. Only 31 kenpom but they were a different team once they went small.
1998- Regular Season and Tournament Conference Champions, 2 seed in tournament. 9th in Final AP Poll.
1997- Preseason number 1, Regular Season Conference Champions, 3 seed in tournament. Final AP Rank of 10. Disappointing overall season, but still a really good season.
2014- Tied for regular season conference title with defending champs ahead of eventual champs, 5 seed in tournament, 6-6 v. RPI top 50, 10-7 v. RPI top 100, tourney results disappointing, but that team ahead a really good year. Only 27 in kenpom, but top 10 in adjusted defense.
2017- 16-2 conference record, 6 seed, 3-4 RPI top 50, 6-5 v. top 100, no bad losses, conference tournament finals, 2nd round NCAA tournament. 22 kenpom. Top 15 in Polls on multiple occasions.
2004- Regular Season and Tournament Champions, 4 seed in tournament, 7-6 v. RPI top 50, 12-6 v. top 100, no bad losses. 17 in kenpom. Maybe should be higher but hard to get 2nd round dismantling by Illinois out of head.
The Good Seasons:
2001- Regular Season Conference Champion, Sweet 16, 5 seed in tournament, 2-4 Vs. RPI top 50, 9-5 vs. RPI top 100. 4 losses outside RPI top 100. Nice break in tournament, but not a great overall season.
2011- 6th in loaded Big East, 2nd round of NCAA tournament, team that put UC back in the NCAAs, 21st in kenpom. 7-9 v. RPI top 50, 8-9 v. RPI top 100, no bad losses.
2005- 2nd round NCAA tournament, 4-5 vs. RPI top 50, 9-6 v. top 100. 7 seed in NCAA tournament. 19 kenpom.
2019- 2nd outright in AAC Conference, Conference tournament champions, 5-4 Q1, 8-1 Q2, one awful loss to ECU. As of today 31 kenpom (43 offense, 28 defense). First round exit.
2015- Round of 32, 6-4 v. RPI top 50, 9-8 v. top 100. Only 43 kenpom. 8 seed.
2016- First round exit, 5-5 v. top 50, only 7-10. 32 kenpom. 9 seed. Team seemed close, but as we know lost a ton of close games.
2013- First Round Exit, 5-10 vs. top 50, 9-12 v. top 100. 40 kenpom, 10 seed.
1995- Conference Tournament Champion, 7 seed, 2nd round exit.
1994- Conference tournament champions, First round exit, 8 seed. 25 in final AP poll.
2006 (AK’s year)- NIT quarterfinals (lost when players suspended), 4-8 vs. RPI top 50, 11-11 v. top 100, 44 kenpom.
2003- First Round Exit, only 17 wins (against 12 losses), 3-6 v. RPI top 50, 8-9 v. top 100, 36 kenpom
2010- NIT second round, 3-11 RPI top 50, 8-16 RPI top 100, kenpom 68, great start, team not quite ready.
1991- NIT, 18 wins, 10.62 Strength of Record According to Sports Reference
1990- Huggs first year, NIT, 20 wins, 7.19 SOR According to Sports Reference.
2009- 1-9 v. RPI top 50, 7-12 v. RPI top 100. 86 kenpom