NCAA BASKETBALL

Cougars fall to Cincy, still earn 3 seed

The Houston Cougars played their worst game of the season on Sunday after a shaky effort against Memphis on Saturday. Houston fell to Cincinnati in the finals of the American Conference Tournament on Sunday, losing 69-57.

Still, they landed a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They will face Georgia State in the first round, and most likely No. 6 seed Iowa State in the second. The Cougars will play in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Despite the shaky weekend, the Cougars finished 31-3. Their best player, senior Corey Davis, is dealing with an injury. But if he is OK, they should at least make the Sweet 16. Anything less would be a disappointment.

The Cougars could theoretically get Kentucky in the Sweet 16 and North Carolina in the Elite 8. If they can run that gauntlet, they would make the Final Four.

Several other teams from Texas (and of interest to Houstonians) made the tournament as well:

Prairie View will play in the First Four after winning the SWAC. They face Farleigh Dickinson.

LSU is a three seed and will face Yale in the East Region.

Baylor is a nine seed and will face Syracuse in the West Region.

Texas Tech is a three seed in the West and will face Northern Kentucky.

Abilene Christian (27-6) faces No. 2 seed Kentucky (27-6).

The AAC got in UCF, Cincinnati and Temple in addition to UH. The Big 12 got six, but TCU and Texas failed to get in.

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James Harden returned to Houston Monday night and lost to the Rockets in double overtime. After the game, Harden complimented the maturation of the Rockets young players, and had some nice things to say about Houston.

Harden has a player option and can opt out after the season, which has some Rockets fans wondering if he would consider returning to Houston and taking over as the team's primary ball handler.

Plus, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has said he wouldn't rule out Harden returning at some point.

Be sure to watch the video above as we break down all the angles involving a potential fit for James Harden with Houston's young core of players, and much more.

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Catch The Bench with John and Lance weekdays from 7-10 AM on ESPN 97.5 and 92.5.

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