Blog Entry

Cincy, quite clearly, second-best in Big East

Posted on: January 18, 2012 10:37 pm
Edited on: January 18, 2012 10:45 pm
 
Cincinnati's win Wednesday night at UConn improved the Bearcats to 5-1 in the Big East. (US PRESSWIRE)
By Matt Norlander

STORRS, Conn. — Cincinnati flew into Hartford, took the 30-minute bus ride to Storrs and stole the title of Big East’s Second-Best Team from Connecticut Wednesday.

The Bearcats hung on at Gampel Pavilion, 70-67, after Sean Kilpatrick sunk a kill shot on Connecticut with 2.7 to go. I was sitting 10 feet from where it happened. It was awesome, and it positively froze the frenzied Gampel Pavilion crowd just seconds after Shabazz Napier tied the game, completing a 10-point comeback in less than two minutes for the Huskies.

The win offered more answers about who Cincinnati is, its dynamics, how tough it can be and why it’s as stable a group as you could ask for in wake of what will most certainly go down as college basketball’s ugliest moment of the season.

Yeah, that fight, it needs to be mentioned again. You think I want to get into this? Not really, but it’s legitimate subtext to Cincy’s season. Going to be that way the remainder of the way, through March or April. Fair or not, it’s a prologue to every big game they play. That will diminish as the season goes on, but it merits mention in mid-January because, Wednesday night, Cincinnati earned its Marquee Win (it was the first home loss for Connecticut this season) and biggest moment following that fracas against Xavier more than a month ago.

The players don’t much care about their perception; it’s refreshing to see how light-hearted they are about it. Afterward, the press peppered them with questions about really hitting a stride more than a month away from the fight. The players took all the questions, answered them in full and without a stock, trite tone in their voices. Throughout the game, UConn fans taunted the Bearcats, particularly Yancy Gates, who threw the sport’s more infamous sucker punch. Gates didn’t ignore it.

“We laugh when we come in and student sections are still yelling about it,” he said. “Actually, it’s kind of amusing. It happened, we’ve moved on, and become a better team. It could’ve easily gone another way.”

The way it’s going (15-4 and 5-1 in the Big East) is turning into one of college basketball’s most surprising storylines. UConn will still be considered a better team than Cincinnati right now by some, but the record shows the Bearcats are No. 2 in the standings with wins against Georgetown, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and UConn. Think the Huskies can claim better? Florida State, West Virginia Harvard … Notre Dame. And 4-3 in the Big East.

It’s these kind of wins, the wins no one really expects them to get — hello, UConn was considered (still is?) a national title contender — that tussle convention and expectation on its side. The Bearcats needed 11 3s to do alter the national perception of them tonight, but Mick Cronin will take it any way he can get it. Especially tonight's oh-thank-you-God way. The Bearcats don't win normally get these kind of games to end on their side.

The confidence is there, consistently, for this team now, as high as it’s been all season, players said following the finish. Cronin looked as loose as I could ever remember him after he traded in his suit and tie for Cincinnati wind pants and a gray hoodie. He shared a moment, one of his favorites from this season, so far. It didn’t come Wednesday night.

“I saw a change in our team recently,” he said. “There was a comment made in our locker room — because Pitt is still Pitt; I don’t care what anybody says, and the way they’re playing, they’re back to playing well — and I heard one of our players say, ‘We just beat Pitt at Pitt. We must be really good.’” The mental state in this league, when you’re trying to build a program and break down the hierarchy, as coach you don’t know how real all that stuff is. I hear the media talk about it, but anyway, when I heard one of our players say, ‘We’re better than Pitt,’ you can tell it meant a lot to them.”

For Kilpatrick and other Bearcats, the Pitt W was the big one this season; they admitted as much. (Pretty big of Kilpatrick to say that after winning Wednesday's game the way he did.) Cronin said tonight was bigger. Of course it was. When the schedule was released over the summer, Cronin scoped it immediately, but carefully. His eyes looked for the big games, particularly the UConn one, which he knew would be on the road. He was hoping it would be at the XL Center, in Hartford, where the Huskies play many of their home games. Nope. “STORRS, CONN.” it read. And so he knew how big this would be, even before knowing how good his team would become or the PR mess that awaited him a few months down the way in the Cintas Center.

“Coming into adversity like this, at UConn, you need to know how to close it out. We did,” Kilpatrick said.

Most recently, Cincy was the one in need of a chase late to get a win. Not tonight. The Bearcats staved off a rally, led by Napier, who was throwing the ball at the hoop from 23 feet again and again, from the same spot on the far left side of the floor.

There was no buckle for Cincy. It earned a 10-point lead with less than two minutes to go and got a brand of road win that 10 other teams won’t lay claim to this year. This team is better than you want to believe. Time to set your notions of what this team is to the side for now. The Big East, in a down year, has Cincinnati as its second-best team. It may not last for more than a week or two, or maybe this team gets to Manhattan with a 14-4 league record and a complete tonal change on its season.

The group is capable of a lot right now. It remains to go the good way.

Comments

Since: Nov 6, 2006
Posted on: February 12, 2012 10:04 am
 

Cincy, quite clearly, second-best in Big East

Well, as I said back in January, the idea that UC was 2nd best was a joke. And Marquette lost at Syracuse, big deal. If they played a home and home we'd see who was better. You're SUPPOSED to win your home games.



Since: Jan 17, 2008
Posted on: January 20, 2012 4:10 pm
 

Cincy, quite clearly, second-best in Big East

RPI doesnt mean a team has a tough schedule it means it was better than. Better than doesnt equate to being a tough schedule, below using your RPI numbers that you refference is the BIG E non-conference teams they have played in the perspective RPI rating.

0-25  = 11
26-50 = 21
51-75 = 20
76-100 = 18
101-200 = 46
201+      = 71

As you can see over 63% of their non-conference games where against 100 + RPI teams. As I said in my post there are a few good teams but as a whole the BIG E is not that good this year. 

Mountain West Conference:

0-25 = 8
26-50 = 8
51-75 = 12
76-100 = 7
101-200 = 30
201+ = 47

That would be 77 of 112 non-conference games against RPI 100+, or 69%. Add in the TWELVE games that Mountain West teams played against non-Div. 1 teams and that is 89 of 124 games against RPI 100+ (we can agree D2, D3 and NAIA programs are not in the Top 100, can't we?). Now you're at 72%.

And I'll save you a few minutes and report that the 16-team Big East combined to play just TWO non-D1 games. South Florida played Florida Southern and Georgetown HAD to play host team Chaminade in the Maui Invitational. Once again, 10 Mountain West teams played TWELVE non-D1 games so far, while 16 Big east teams had ONE scheduled, but played TWO.

Any more stupid comments to make about OTHER conferences scedule strength?



Since: Oct 20, 2006
Posted on: January 20, 2012 11:23 am
 

Cincy, quite clearly, second-best in Big East

SDSt. - #93 Strength of Schedule.



Since: Oct 20, 2006
Posted on: January 20, 2012 11:21 am
 

Cincy, quite clearly, second-best in Big East

What is it with Aztec fans?  Why are you so out of touch?  Last year you all complained because you weren't ranked in the top-4.  Said your team would easily be in the Final-4 and then lost in the 2nd round.  Now you come on here and bad-mouth the schedules of BE teams.  Three of the toughest four schedules in the country are BE teams.  Meanwhile, SDSt. plays in a weak conference with a ton of gimme games, and then schedules the following teams for their NC schedule - Bryant, So. Utah, UC Davis, San Diego, UC Riverside, Elon, Redlands, San Diego Christian (is that really a college?), and Chicago St. 



Since: Dec 4, 2006
Posted on: January 20, 2012 12:02 am
 

Cincy, quite clearly, second-best in Big East

yeah could agree if not for the fact that cin after the xavier game lost 3 players.. their front tall men including yates that has been considered a top level player in the BE for several years... and won

so the issue of boatright maybe can be an issue if one wants to choose that direction... but falls into the wouda-shouda category 



Since: Dec 4, 2010
Posted on: January 19, 2012 11:20 pm
 

Cincy, quite clearly, second-best in Big East

IF the 2nd BEST team in the BIG EAST is NOT ranked in the polls.....what does that say about the BIG EAST?  Overrated?  lol



Since: Jun 6, 2009
Posted on: January 19, 2012 6:18 pm
 

Cincy, quite clearly, second-best in Big East

@Tomahaha & SMURPH


RPI doesnt mean a team has a tough schedule it means it was better than. Better than doesnt equate to being a tough schedule, below using your RPI numbers that you refference is the BIG E non-conference teams they have played in the perspective RPI rating.



0-25  = 11

26-50 = 21

51-75 = 20

76-100 = 18

101-200 = 46

201+      = 71


As you can see over 63% of their non-conference games where against 100 + RPI teams. As I said in my post there are a few good teams but as a whole the BIG E is not that good this year. 

When you assume a team is good by preseaon rankings later to find out they really arent that good, Examples would be PITT, LOU, MARQ and ND to name a few.  Show me one team that SU has played that is supposibly good at this point and I can argue that they havent really had any good quality competition as of yet. Not to say they arent, but they didnt play anyone hardly during non conference and in conference who have they played??? A MARQ that was supposibly good???


Just face the facts that the BIG E is an average conference this year not a so called power house.


Yes FACTS are a wonderful thing you should use them as a whole, not semi facts to support an 1/8th of your arrgument


 


 



Since: Apr 21, 2011
Posted on: January 19, 2012 5:41 pm
 

Cincy, quite clearly, second-best in Big East

No doubt that Cincinnati is playing well and are squarely in a top half of the Big East. But there are two major flaws with this article:
First, no mention of the fact that Boatright had to sit out for UConn. He is critical for the Huskies this season - otherwise they have absolutely no depth in the backcourt. Passing judgment on the BE pecking order without even mentioning that UConn was shorthanded was a major oversight.
Second, why the parting shot that the Big East is "in a down year"? Because Big East teams beat other Big East teams? That is obviously going to happen when conference play starts. Big East teams have already proven themselves out of conference, whether you go by statistics or the eye test.



Since: Oct 20, 2006
Posted on: January 19, 2012 3:18 pm
 

Cincy, quite clearly, second-best in Big East

Just becasue majority of them played cupcake schedules during non-conference and got high rankings in the polls doesn't mean they are GOOD


Wow, RG Sports !!!  A mind is a terrible thing to waste.  The cure for ignorance is knowledge.  Maybe I can help.

Strength of schedule (so far):

1. Duke
2. UConn - Big East
3. Syracuse - Big East
4. West Virginia - Big East

Facts. Get them and use them.



Since: Feb 9, 2008
Posted on: January 19, 2012 2:42 pm
 

Cincy, quite clearly, second-best in Big East

Really right now......Cincinnati winning these games on the road against ranked teams IS NOT a suprise to me......MY GOD they were projected 4th in the pre-season Big East standings....I don't see why they think Cincinnati is this garbage team that was not supposed to win anything??? Okay they lost to presbyterian, Marshall, and Xavier.....besides the PU game, They have really pulled it together this year..ESPECIALLY in the Conference games. Vandy and Mississippi St has some horrid losses, but they are in the Tournament talk....I really don't get it...and I think if ANY TEAM has a legit chance to knock off Syracuse first, it would be Cincinnati. In my eyes, Cincinnati is a 4/5 seed team right now...and if they beat West Virginia this weekend they DEFINITELY need to be into the top 25. They are one of the more consistent teams right now and they are still going unnoticed. They are the only team in the country whose record has consistently improved in the last 5 years...The brawl is over...they've gotten over it, and so should everybody else, they act like there's never been a brawl before on the court. If anybody should be treated like the red-headed step child, it should be Xavier, they have been the COMPLETE opposite of what cincy is right now...


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