Rivalries are fun when they are conducted at the highest of standards. Brawls on the court and the occasional technical foul or six fall within the bounds of a contest of merit between men with the highest of ethical standards. All, truly, is fair in love, basketball, and war. Recently though, the Bearcats of Cincinnati have strained the limits of legitimate competition. It is, I say, an affront.
Head coach/evil genius John Brannen has concocted the most nefarious of plan. Unable to compete with Xavier on the court, in recruiting, or in the mind of the public, Brannen has resorted to the most despicable of tactics: having his team just suck out loud. It is truly a dastardly mind that would sacrifice success in order to harm an opponent, but there is simply no other way to interpret how awful UC has been this year.
After being slapped around in the Crosstown Shootout Brannen and his disciples likely realized they weren’t very good at basketball. They certainly weren’t worthy of their honorable rivalry with the Musketeers across the city. Unable to win in combat through normal means, Brannen and his coaching staff came up with the stratagem of beating Xavier through other means.
Every team needs high quadrant wins and good competition to move up in the ever important computer metrics. By losing six of the eight games they have played since losing, again, to Xavier, the Bearcats have ensured that their rivals gain absolutely no advantage from having beaten them. Comprehensively. At home. It is a demented mind that comes up with such a ploy. Losing to Georgia by 15? Losing to South Florida at home? Did Brannen really think no one would see through this? Is this paper thin veneer of trying to compete really the best effort he can make? 3-7? As if any team claiming to be anything but another mid-major pack filler in the AAC could post such a number.
Cincinnati has plunged to 81st in the KenPom, 97th on Bart Torvik, and 104th in the NET. Brannen’s genius for being bad at basketball has nearly made the Crosstown Shootout at Quadrant 3 win for Xavier. If that is allowed to happen the very structure of the game will have collapsed. College basketball is based on the idea that everyone tries their best to defeat their opponent on the court. That Brannen has taken the rivalry with Xavier so far that his team is now tanking in order to damage the Musketeers computer numbers is beyond the pale. This treachery cannot stand.