This week’s addition of 6-foot-5 shooting guard Lance Stephenson to UC’s 2009 recruiting class will have effects far beyond the instant upgrade it means for the Bearcats’ starting swingman position. Stephenson — a big shooting guard fast and strong enough to drive to the basket — is one of the rarest commodities in college basketball. (Google “Pitt’s Sam Young jams on UC — 2008” for evidence of its beauty.)
Late Sunday night, as the Cincinnati-Florida State game prepared to determine the final member of this year’s Sweet Sixteen, the national analysis dudes all started talking about how the state of Ohio had gone 7-0 up to that point — Ohio University had just defeated South Florida to get into the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since the 1960s. Ohio State and Xavier were both already in.
Cincinnati went on to win a physical, back-and-forth game against FSU, which finished third in the Atlantic Coast Conference and won the ACC tournament. It was the first time in the history of UC’s program that the team beat a higher-seeded opponent in the NCAA Tournament. The No. 6 seed Bearcats will play No. 2 seed Ohio State at 9:45 p.m. Thursday in Boston, which means the state of Ohio will suffer its first loss of the 2012 NCAA Tournament then.
After a second-round comeback win over Notre Dame, Xavier found itself in the fortunate position of facing a team called “Lehigh” rather than one called “Duke.” Lehigh was one of two 15 seeds to defeat a No. 2 seed in this year’s second-round of play, and the “Mountain Hawks” made actually game of against Xavier, which didn’t have the game in hand until less than five minutes remained. Xavier will now play No. 3 seed Baylor at 7:15 p.m. Friday in Atlanta.
Ohio University upset 4-seeded Michigan in the second round and then ousted No. 13 seed South Florida in the third. The Bobcats will play No. 1 seed North Carolina at 7:47 p.m. Friday in St. Louis.
Ohio State beat Loyola (Md.) and Gonzaga to earn its spot in the Sweet Sixteen. OSU and Cincinnati last faced each other in the NCAA Tournament in the 1962 National Championship game, which UC won 71–59. (UC also defeated OSU in the 1961 title game, 70-65.) The Ohio State-Cincinnati winner will face the winner of Syracuse-Wisconsin, setting up a potential rematch of the Big East Tournament semifinal game when Cincinnati upset Syracuse.
MORE SWEET NEARBY TEAMS:
The Ohio Valley’s hoops success easily spreads beyond just the Ohio teams — three more schools within 100 miles are in the Sweet Sixteen: Kentucky, Louisville and Indiana. Kentucky and Indiana are actually matched up in the South Region (9:45 p.m. Friday in Atlanta), while Louisville faces Michigan State in the West (7:47 p.m. Thursday in Phoenix).
BIG EAST REPRESENT:
The Big East again this year sent more teams to the NCAA Tournament than any other conference, and four of its nine are still standing: Syracuse, Marquette, Cincinnati and Louisville. Each of these schools is in a separate region, so it’s still technically possible for an all-Big East Final Four.
SWEET SIXTEEN SCHEDULE:
Thursday, March 22
Wisconsin vs. Syracuse
(Boston): 7:15 p.m. on CBS
Louisville vs. Michigan
State (Phoenix): 7:47 p.m. on TBS
Cincinnati vs. Ohio
State (Boston): 9:45 p.m. on CBS
Florida vs. Marquette
(Phoenix): 10:17 p.m. on TBS
Friday, March 23
Baylor vs. Xavier
(Atlanta): 7:15 p.m. on CBS
North Carolina vs. Ohio
(St. Louis): 7:47 p.m. on TBS
Kentucky vs. Indiana
(Atlanta): 9:45 p.m. on CBS
Kansas vs. N.C. State
(St. Louis): 10:17 p.m. on TBS
Throw in a game Dec. 23 at home against St. Francis (PA), which right now is 2-6, and it looks like the ’Cats could open the year with a 12-0 record and no doubt a spot in the Top 25.
So, it totally sucks that UC point guard Cashmere Wright tore his ACL the other day. It really sucks. It sucks really bad.
But instead of cursing God or the NCAA or the fragile ligament that connects from a posterio-lateral part of the femur to an anterio-medial part of the tibia, we should rise up and help one of contemporary society's major problems — a lack of blood.
Next week is UC Bearcats Week at the Hoxworth Blood Center, which means that anyone who donates some of theirs will be entered into a raffle for a pair of season tickets to for UC basketball this year. And even though that super fast freshman won't be out there, we promise that other young dudes will be jamming on some people's heads, especially early in the year.
Here are the details: Go to a Hoxworth mobile unit or neighborhood center between Oct. 27 and Nov. 1. You have to be at least 17 years old, basically healthy, at least 110 pounds and you should probably eat some food before you go.
You can also call 451-0910 or (800) 830-1091 to schedule an appointment at a neighborhood donor center. To locate a community blood drive or if you are a registered donor and want to schedule online, go to www.hoxworth.org and click "Donate Now."
Give Hoxworth some of your blood. Do it for the community. Do it for basketball tickets. Either way.
ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi has Xavier as one of his first four out, and I tend to agree — although I disagree with the pointless bickering in the comments section regarding the brawl that happened — wait for it — almost three months ago. The Bearcats are listed as a 10 seed, a much better prospect than having an 8 or 9 seed and having to play Kentucky or Syracuse if they can make it past the first round. With the current mock up, the ‘Cats would play San Diego State in the first round — a winnable game — and North Carolina in the second — maybe, with a hope and a prayer.
Not to say that crazier things haven’t happened: VMI, Butler (twice) and George Mason have all knocked off No. 1 seeds in the tournament. UC has more talent than any of those teams, and if they can continue playing like they did against Marquette this past Wednesday the Sweet 16 or even Elite 8 isn’t out of the question.
The Bearcats played stifling defense against Marquette, forcing 17 turnovers. They dominated the paint, outscoring the Golden Eagles 42-24, and JaQuon Parker was a revelation. Parker used his size and strength to drive to the hoop at will and went 2-for-4 from behind the arc, including a halftime buzzer-beater that put UC up 16 at the half. Parker finished the game with a career-best 28 points.
The Bearcats didn’t look back. Yancy Gates finished the game with 13 boards despite being limited to less than four minutes of first half play because of foul trouble. The 72-61 final wasn’t as close as the score indicated, as UC coasted to victory. With the emergence of Parker the 'Cats now have a steady combo of inside and outside threats that will make them a difficult team to face both in New York and in the NCAA tournament.
Xavier, on the other hand, isn’t a lock for a ticket to March Madness. Winning the A10 tourney would put all doubt to rest. The Muskies host Charlotte tomorrow; with a loss the NIT will certainly be beckoning. A win leaves a glimmer of hope, but in all likelihood, Chris Mack and his team will be on the outside looking in next Sunday.
Cincinnatians don’t generally follow a lot of NBA, but even those of us who would rather spend two hours golfing rocks into the Ohio River than watch 48-minutes worth of NBA hoops have heard about, seen highlights of and come to find interest in this Jeremy Lin dude. “Linsanity” is apparently very real.
Here’s the abbreviated story: Lin played college basketball at Harvard, went undrafted, signed a deal with his hometown Golden State Warriors, got cut by them and the Houston Rockets this preseason and then joined the New York Knicks, who have won seven straight games since he broke out with a 25-point, 7-assist, 5-rebound game against the New Jersey Nets on Feb. 4.
Lin has scored in double figures in every game since, including dropping 38 on the Lakers Feb. 10. He’s averaging 9.1 assists per game for a team that lost last year’s starting point guard during free agency. The Knicks’ best player, Carmelo Anthony, was injured during the second game of Lin’s run, and the team is still playing as well as it has all year, evening its record at 15-15 with last night’s win over Sacramento, during which Lin had 10 points, 13 assists and 5 rebounds in 26 minutes of play.
Here’s an NBA-produced piece on Lin and his 38-point effort against L.A.
Lin has already compiled a badass highlight reel, and this, along with the ridiculous notion of an unheralded player coming out of nowhere to find success in one of the most demanding professional sports leagues in the world, has launched the term “Linsanity,” and the media is so enamored with this kid’s story and his game that he and Anthony are facing stupid questions about how they’re going to be able to coexist once Anthony returns.
There’s also the fact that Lin is an Asian American playing in a league that has had very few Asians in its league history. He’s the first American player in NBA history to be of Chinese or Taiwanese descent. This means the media, in addition to its typically loaded questioning, is certain to make insensitive remarks about Lin and his race the faster it tries to crank out cute headlines about the phenomenon.
USA Today put together a rundown of some of the insensitive and/or offensive coverage that has occurred so far. Here’s a rundown:
A few weeks before the spring signing period began, Mick Cronin hinted on a local radio station that there would be some surprises in store for Bearcat fans come April 15. Well, April 15 has come and gone, and with the signing period ending next week (May 20) it’s nearly time to panic.
One of Cronin’s prized recruits last year was 7-foot-3 John Riek, who never got on the court for the Bearcats. Riek spent the year rehabbing his knee, and due to some weird NCAA paperwork/eligibility issues found himself uncommitted to UC this spring. He surprisingly signed with
the University of Mississippi Mississippi State this month, leaving UC without the giant dude it was expecting to put up front with sophomore Yancy Gates.
Since writing about Jeff Keppinger and the Reds is growing tiresome with so little new happening these days in Reds-fan land, I'm going to take a moment to lament another franchise that's seen a decade pass since its championship-caliber days.
The New York Knicks lost to Philly the other night, preventing New York from achieving its first four-game winning streak in more than three years.
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...)
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.