While many University of Louisville fans have been feeling sorry for Cincinnati for being left behind in the conference realignment shuffle, UC continues to be a serious threat in both basketball and football.

Just a couple of days ago, Whit Babcock, the UC athletic director since 2011, announced he was leaving Cincinnati for a similar position at Virginia Tech. This after hiring Tommy Tuberville as football coach and engineering plans for a multi-million renovation of Nippert Stadium. Apparently too many limitations for him at UC.

Located in a fertile recruiting state, it’s obviously going to take a while for Cincinnati to feel the negative impact of being left behind in the American Athletic Conference as UofL moves on to the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.

Take basketball, for example. The Bearcats, who will be in Louisville Thursday, have won 12 straight games this season. Among those wins was a decision over Memphis at Memphis. Their 19-2 won-lost record has them ranked 13th in the Associated Press this week, right behind 12th-ranked UofL.

They are led by senior guard Sean Kilpatrick, who is averaging 19.1 points per game, and coached by Mick Cronin, a former Rick Pitino assistant at UofL, who has won three of his past five games against mentor.

UC will be big and physical as usual, hungry for another win, always highly motivated when competing again Louisville. While UofL fans were feeling sorry a soon-to-be former conference rival, Cincinnati has been getting better. Not going away soon enough.

The KFC Yum! Center crowd has yet to be pumped up this season. That has to change Thursday evening. The Bearcats are for real, here and now.

Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.