One day until the Shootout. I know for many of you it's the biggest game of the season and you certainliy wouldn't receive any argument here.
If you grew up in the city this was the event of every winter. Some of the luster was lost during UC's post-Huggins dip, but the rebound to prominence has arrived. Last season, the UC-XU game was one of my first assignments after returning home.
Growing up here, my dream job was always to cover Cincinnati sports. I'd watched probably every Shootout since I was 10, eating coneys at seemingly every media timeout. I remember the no-handshake and the Jamal Walker jumper and the Terry Nelson prediction and all the other great moments.
Then I sat at Cintas Center and watched that game and realized, wow, we are about to run off another string of games just like those in the 90s.
Both of these programs appear set up for success. Not that I'm promoting violence, but the scuffle served as evidence of how much last year's game meant to those guys. Add in the drama of double overtime. Last year was one of the classics. It felt like a return to the old days.
Days like tomorrow are exactly why I love my job. There is just no way to truly describe what this game means to this city -- particularly if you are any kind of college hoops fan.
Outside of the postseason, this is most exciting game of the year.
--- Bill Koch spoke with Yancy Gates about what this game means to him. Being from Cincinnati, he didn't hide the importance.
Considering how thin the Musketeers are in the frontcourt, if Gates can be effective in the post, score and draw fouls he could be the hammer Xavier doesn't have an answer for.
--- Last year's game was the first for Ibrahima Thomas with UC and it was an adventure, to say the least. Check back to the blog later today for my story on Thomas' journey from last year to this year.
--- The Muskies have won three in a row and four of five. For Cincinnati's seniors, not losing four straight games is on the mind.
"Yeah, man, I got to get one," Rashad Bishop said. "It's alwys going to be intense, that game, there's not other way. Everybody out there, Xavier's team, their heart is all in so you have to come out and play."
--- The Bearcats return to the rankings only adds more spice to the Shootout, but even though Mick Cronin and his team were given the respect of a national ranking, they are still playing the no-respect card. Considering how well UC has played with that card, I wouldn't be surprised if Mick keeps pushing it until they are No. 1. Even then, he may say they should have been No. 1 sooner.
Cronin didn't deny his motivation.
"I'm going to use that lack of respect," he said. "We're ranked but we're still not ranked where we probably deserve to be ranked considering the losses that some other people have had ahead of us. I'll keep playing that card as long as I can with the team."
"We're still not ranked where we should be. We should be 25th behind teams with three losses? We still get no respect and our guys are pretty aware of that."
--- Chad Brendel put together a game preview with some focus on the matchup with Tu Holloway.
--- The General, Bobby Knight will be in attendance on Thursday, calling the game for ESPN.
--- Gary Parrish has no interest in coaching in the Big East and doesn't know if UCF should be so excited about the prospect as well.
--- Kemba Walker cannot do this alone, example No. 3. UConn suffered its second conference loss, this time at Notre Dame on Tuesday. Their one win was an overtime home game against USF. The Huskies are falling fast. Depth can absolutely smother UConn, good to know for the Bearcats.
--- My upset alert didn't hold true, but Providence came pretty darn close. They were up two agianst Pitt with 35 seconds remaining.
--- Ken Pomeroy ran through the Big East season 10,000 times on his computer and it spit out the winner based on all his calculations of statistics.
UC was the champion 223 times..
That means there's a 2.2 percent chance they win the Big East. So you're sayin' there's a chance!
Wildly enough, that's sixth best in the conference.
I'm still convinced KenPom will construct five basketball-playing robots that win the national championship by 2024.
--- All apologies to my readers, when I spoke yesterday about the need for Bill Raftery and Gus Johnson to do a games together, I completely forgot about this gem. Raftery-Johnson on Gonzaga-Oklahoma State in the NCAA tournament.
On to some randomness...
--- Josh Groban sings Kanye West tweets on Jimmy Kimmell. Must watch.
--- This probably shouldn't be in the randomness section, because it's much more important -- at least to me and many other native Cincinnatians who love the Reds. Barry Larkin is up for the Hall of Fame today. Most pundits say he won't get in this year but sometime soon.
I can tell you this, the day he goes in to Cooperstown, I will be there. Jayson Stark has a great synopsis of why he is one of the greatest shortstops of all time.
--- I thnk NBA players should stop playing cards.
--- I wish this list were better, though, it has it's moments. Sad to see how far SNL has fallen.
--- Many of you have probably seen this, but I would be remiss if I didn't show you Ted Williams. And apparently he's received a job offer from the Cleveland Cavs and Quicken Loans Arena. What a crazy story.