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So What is a Bearcat Anyway?

We all know where our first NCAA foe comes from, but what the heck are they?

Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Our beloved burly Boilermakers will head to Louisville this week to take on the Bearcats from Skyline Chili country. Everyone should know that Cincy is in 'The American', a weird Frankenstein conference made up of limbs from the old Big East (Cincy & UConn) and a torso mostly made from former C-USA teams (Memphis & SMU). Most fans should know that UC also has a very impressive history in basketball. Every Indiana-native should know who Oscar Robertson is and that he was one of the greatest college players ever while at Cincinnati. The Bearcats have two NCAA titles and six Final Four appearances and were tied for 20th in all-time wins at the end of last season. Oh, and guess who they were tied with? Us. So now that we have a base knowledge about their history, what is up with their nickname?

The Bearcat

Intimidating? Perhaps, but he doesn't hold a candle to Pete (credit: Joe Murphy/Getty Images)

After extensive independent research (Wikipedia), I discovered that, much like our own nickname, Bearcats was not chosen as much as given. It arose from a cheer that combined the name of their star football player (Baehr) and an opponent's team name, "Baehr-Cats." Oddly enough, that opponent was the Kentucky Wildcats, who no doubt await the winner of our upcoming basketball match-up. So, that explains why the university uses the moniker, but next you get to learn about the strange animal that shares the name.

Look at that fierce killer of fruit (credit: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The bearcat, or binturong as it shall henceforth be referred to, is native to southeast Asia. The binturong is known to be fleet and agile like a cat in the trees, but flat-footed and plodding on the ground like a bear. Their prehensile tail helps them grab onto things while in the trees. Some people claim that the scent of the binturong is reminicent of buttered popcorn (so if you happen to see last year's leading scorer Sean Kilpatrick in the crowd on Thursday, get really close to him and see if it holds true for Cincinnati grads). The fact that their range is limited to Asia and didn't extend to France surprised me, mostly because I've heard that binturongs are known to be especially aggressive towards Musketeers. Cincy has an occasional live mascot from the Cincinnati Zoo. Her name is Lucy and she could be easily flattened by the Boilermaker Special, just sayin'.

In conclusion, binturongs are very interesting small mammals and Cincinnati has a cool story behind their nickname. Also "Binturong" is a much more unique name than "Bearcat" and they should totally use it instead. Finally, it should be said that Kings Island is near Cincinnati, but I couldn't find a good place to fit that in anywhere.