PREGAME: Welcome to Fifth Third Arena everybody! We are gathered here today to witness a contest between the UC Bearcats and the DePaul Blue Demons. Let us take a moment to rejoice ... Lance Stephenson's epic slam against DePaul two years ago.
In fact, let's take a moment to watch Lance JAM IT IN THE HOOP!
(Gonna have to scroll down the page some, but it's worth it...)
Let's not point out the many things I haven't been right about so far in 2009. Instead, let's focus on my Spring Training prediction that Laynce Nix, if healthy and in the lineup, would hit 25 home runs. It looks pretty feasible. The shot he hit to dead center in Arizona last night was certainly not a cheapie.
Anyone else ready for baseball? Mired in the middle of a painful, almost entirely sunless winter, there are few phrases any more satisfying than this: Pitchers and catchers report in two weeks.
The Bearcats’ sweet double-overtime victory yesterday over Georgetown was the team’s sixth win in its last seven games, three of which were against teams ranked in the Top 25 at the time. The ’Cats are now 6-3 against the RPI top 50, with tonight’s 7 p.m. Big East semifinal against No. 2 Syracuse offering an opportunity to seriously enhance the team’s seeding come Sunday.
ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi currently has the Bearcats projected as an 8 seed, playing Virginia in the first round with a potential second-round game against No. 1 seed Kansas. This situation would seriously suck. (For Cincinnati or for Kansas? ... Good point.)
Cincinnati is by far the most dangerous team in the 7-10 range, having recently defeated projected 3-seeds Marquette and Georgetown, along with projected 5-seed Louisville. It’s safe to say that no No. 1 or 2 seed wants to see the Bearcats in the second round. And for UC, the road to the Sweet Sixteen actually would look a lot easier from one of the 11 or 12 seeds — fellow Big East squad South Florida is projected as a 12 to face 5-seed UNLV in the first round and potentially 4-seed Florida State in the second. I think UC would gladly take on a tougher first-round matchup for a second round game that’s not against a school that starts four or five future NBA players.
It actually wouldn’t be a huge surprise if UC is one of the several teams that every year gets slotted somewhere far from what the prognosticators expected. The Bearcats’ RPI of 58 might fit in with those of some of the current bubble teams, but only two other teams outside the RPI top 17 have as many wins over the RPI top 50 as UC’s six (Kansas State, RPI 44, and Notre Dame, RPI 37, each also have six).
The Bearcats received votes in the AP Top 25 last week. UC’s five votes had the team around the No. 35 ranking, which falls in line with the 8- to 9-seed projection. But that was before yesterday’s win over Georgetown, which would likely have earned the ’Cats more votes even if the team loses to Syracuse. Louisville, on the other hand, fell from the Top 25 in last week’s ranking, actually sitting two spots out at No. 27, but the Cardinals are currently projected as a 5 seed, which would typically include teams in the 17-20 range.
The selection committee doesn’t strictly follow any single set of rankings when determining seeding, but the guess here is that even with a loss to Syracuse in the Big East semifinals it wouldn’t be a stretch for the committee to consider UC one of the top 28 teams in the country, which would put UC among the 7 seeds. And it’s safe to say that a win over Syracuse would put the Bearcats firmly in the Top 25 by week’s end, meaning a 6 seed would be possible. And if UC were to win the whole Big East tournament, it would be difficult for any selection committee to seed the team very far from the likes of projected 3-seeds Georgetown and Marquette, two teams the Bearcats have beaten in the last 16 days.
Here’s hoping the
Bearcats put on a good showing tonight in primetime against the No. 2
team in the country in the Big East semis. Selection committee
members will be watching, as will the potential No. 1 and No. 2 seeds
which certainly don’t want to see Cincinnati between themselves and
the second round.
St. John's needs to get some new uniforms. Nobody's trying to act like UC's tri-colored Adidas triangle theme is super cool, but the Red Storm dudes look like they’re wearing the high school JV jerseys handed down by the 1988 state championship team.
The Johnnies got handled like a JV team for most of Wednesday night’s game, a 71-61 UC win that wasn’t as close as a 10-point difference would suggest.
Now that the Rays have signed Pat Burrell maybe my pipe dream of Rocco Baldelli launching home runs off the Batter's Eye Pavilion in center field becomes a bit less improbable.
The Bearcats have won eight out of their last nine, while the Muskies have lost five of eight. Both teams had key players suspended and UC found motivation in the fallout while Xavier has struggled to find the identity that had them as a preseason top 15.
Do we really care what happens in the American League outside of individual players’ impact on our fantasy baseball teams? Probably not. But in the name of being thorough, the following is CityBeat’s prediction of the entire softball-style AL. We even looked up a couple guys who play for the Royals, just to be fair.
AFC North teams did a nice job overall in this year’s draft. Most teams addressed their main needs and picked up late round steals that very well could contribute next season. Here’s my breakdown of each team’s strongest picks as well as a final overall grade for their draft selections.
The story of Chris Henry had only recently become one of redemption. The oft-troubled wide receiver had by all accounts taken advantage of his last chance at a successful NFL career and become a responsible individual off the field. Henry died this morning due to injuries suffered during a car accident yesterday.
The details of the accident that resulted in the 26-year-old’s death are still being determined, but initial reports of a “domestic situation” make one believe that all was not as well in Henry’s private life as was displayed in a recent Enquirer story about Chris Henry the family man. Read the story of Henry’s renewed dedication to family here.