When I had some trouble sleeping last night, I started to think a little bit more about this Notre Dame game tonight.
First off, yes, I am aware of how depressing it is my thoughts turn to college basketball when I can't sleep, but hey, at least it wasn't to the Bengals (that causes severe nightmares).
Second, the more I thought about it, the bigger the game became. No, not from a record standpoint, rather from a confidence and momentum standpoint.
Mick Cronin knew confidence and momentum would be such a significant factor in the success of this year's team he took it easier than in the past with the non-conference schedule. This team's confidence has been a major factor in its success.
I still believe the confidence exists, but certainly doubt begins to creep in with back to back double-digit road losses at Villanova and Syracuse. Notre Dame, though an incredibly difficult team to beat at home, is more beatable than Cuse and Nova right now.
Cronin said in an earlier press conference it will probably just take winning one of these bigtime types of games to really make this team believe and play with incredible confidence. I'd concur with that thought. This team knows it can do it. And there's no reason to beleive it can't. But for this group of 19,20,21-year olds, nothing quite inspires like the unity of pulling off the win.
The symptomatic confidence would be invaluable with so many hostile enviornments the rest of the way.
This team has not reached the breaking point. Not in the least. Win or loss, we will still be discussing a bright future on Thursday. In the grand scheme, this represents just another game in the Big East grind.
But in a sport where momentum can carry you to win streaks, conference championships, improbable tournament runs and factor in more than any other major sport, flipping Uncle Mo in the Bearcats direction tonight could be worth much more than one mark in the win column.
--- The Irish have suffered from the loss of 6-foot-8 Carleton Scott. They hoped he could be back tonight, but now are anticipating early February. Brian Hamilton of The Chicago Tribune talks about the deficiencies he leaves behind on the floor.
Notre Dame already lacks size, without Scott a serious advantage flips to the Cats. They absolutely MUST punish the Irish on the boards.
--- On that note, Dan Hoard with a great look inside Mick Cronin's return to defense and rebounding this week.
Love the opening quote: "Winning made you guys soft." If the Bearcats plays with a chip on their shoulder, I like their chances.
--- Tom Noie of the South Bend Tribune writes about Notre Dame's search for the winning formula. He points out ND is ranked 15th in scoring in BE play. Their goal will be to slow the tempo down and play methodical halfcourt ball. The more this game flows up and down rapidly, the better off for the Cats.
--- As I noted earlier in the week, the proposed changes to the starting lineup would be more conducive to better defense than an offensive spark, according to Mick Cronin. Bill Koch expounds on the concept.
--- Chad Brendel with a scouting report for the game.
--- Joe Lunardi still has UC as 9 seed in his bracketology. Maybe UC should rest the starters the next two months.
--- Some randomness...
--- I only hope his swearing in speech would come in the form of a dirty nursery rhyme.
--- Not sure if I'd take Al Davis over Mike Brown. The creepiness of The Tales from Crypt host running my football team would be too disturbing.
--- Cameron Crowe is releasing a Pearl Jam documentary. He's sold at least one ticket.
--- The best postgame interviews. Great list.