The first of six steps needed to win a NCAA Championship starts today for Coach Bob Huggins and the Cincinnati Bearcats.



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Coach Bob Huggins and his University of Cincinnati Bearcats travel to Indiana for a first-round match-up with Steve Alford and his Iowa Hawkeyes. Alford, better known for his playing days at Indiana, will see many IU fans come out and support their favorite son. Many IU fans hope Alford will one day return and guide IU back to greatness.

When UC takes the court Thursday in the RCA Dome, it will mark the Bearcats 24th appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Seeded 7th in the Austin bracket, Coach Bob Huggins and crew will look to knock off an Iowa team that hasn't "Danced" since 2001. While it's been a few years, the Hawkeyes are no stranger to the tournament. This marks Iowa's 21st NCAA Tournament appearance.

While the Bearcats have prepared for Iowa, Bearcat fans have been talking about Kentucky. A win by both teams today, will set up the match-up many in Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati have been waiting for.

But Iowa will be a tough test as they look to make that Saturday date. Alford brings in a team that's played well towards the end of the season. The Hawkeyes finished 21-11 but with a losing record (7-9) in the Big Ten Conference. The Hawkeyes have won five of their last six games including two in the Big Ten Conference Tournament before dropping to Wisconsin 59-56 in the semi-finals.

The Bearcats enter the game having been embarrassed by South Florida 80-68. As all Bearcat fans know. Coach Huggins will have this team prepared for this battle. A win by the Bearcats will also give Coach Huggins career win number 399 setting up a chance at 400 against the Wildcats if they would advance.

The Bearcats hold a 5-2 advantage over the Hawkeyes, but the teams haven't met since 1980-81. This season both teams faced five common opponents. The Bearcats defeated Northern Iowa, Purdue and Saint Louis while losing to Louisville (twice) and also Illinois. Iowa defeated Louisville, Northern Iowa, Saint Louis and Purdue twice. There were defeated by Illinois (twice) and Purdue.

The Bearcats key for today's game will be its defense and rebounding. Iowa has done a great job on the boards over the past ten games. They have also been improving on turnovers. If the Bearcats can win the war in the paint, they should be in great shape to advance to the second round of the tournament.

While this Bearcat team has under achieved in some areas, could it also be one of those Bob Huggins teams that surprise many around the country? We'll find out later today.




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