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(Courtesy thenewsoftoday.com)

  You'll really go crazy doing so, but just play a long with me for the heck of it. Sure, the Bearcats lost at home to West Virginia and many of you have steam coming out of your ears having to walk back to your car with "Let's go, Mountaineers!" piercing through your brain (on YOUR floor at that).
  I understand.
  I often sit as a fan with my family at Fifth Third Arena and there's three UC degrees alone in my household (hopefully, more to come). Rest assured, I don't like being taunted at the home venue and I grumbled back to the parking garage with the rest of you.
  However. let's go back to last year when UC came close to beating WVU in the Big East tournament.  We all know the Mountaineers and Coach Huggins made the Final Four, so you have to realize your talent level is not that far off.
  Two years ago, UC and Coach Cronin beat Huggs and the Mountaineers after honoring him before the game.
 Three years ago, a not very good UC team went to Morgantown and blew WVU out of THEIR home gym (the night Huggins wore the infamous "Colonel Mustard" suit).
  In essence, the lesson here is an old one.  It's not comforting, but it is truthful. One game is rarely an indication of a how a season plays out. The evidence is there.
  For example, as you may sit stewing over the 66-55 loss to WVU, keep in mind that they just lost to Louisville. If you ever watched any of the Bob Huggins UC teams, you know that back-to-back losses didn't occur all that often and usually there was a strong performance after a defeat.
  Then if you really want to aggravate yourself, you can look at the rest of the league over that weekend.
  Louisville knocks off Connecticut in double overtime 79-78.  UConn's supposed to be pretty decent, and Louisville is Louisville.
  Georgetown beats Villanova 69-66.  No shocker for Big East aficionados, but 'Nova was ranked higher.
  Marquette continues to be a thorn in the side of good teams by downing Syracuse 76-70. I'll let Mick Cronin sum that one up for you:
  "Syracuse hasn't won since they beat us; welcome to the Big East."
  During UC's defeat to WVU, Rutgers was giving Pitt fits until the Panthers prevailed 65-62.  Pitt's supposed to be an upper echelon team (and UC beat Rutgers handily).
  Providence has caused some teams some headaches, but Seton Hall beat them 81-71. Seton Hall also thumped Syracuse by 22 in the Carrier Dome.  Oh yeah, UC beat Seton Hall.
  Then the one that really makes you pull your hair out--St. John's takes Duke to the woodshed at Madison Square Garden 93-78.
  Yep, your "little ol' Bearcats" beat St. John's in New York and they're coming to Fifth Third Arena Feb. 13.
  The league has a very cannibalistic nature to it. A Big East road game is about as refreshing as a swim in the Amazon among the piranhas.
  The second you think a team has "tanked", they're knocking off a Top 10 squad.  Or, the second a team appears at its peak, they go down to someone at the bottom of the pack in the league.
  Truth is, the bottom of the pack teams would probably be contenders in a lot of leagues.
  As for the Bearcats, the WVU loss was the first at home this season.  You may recall past teams have often lost a game or two in the home gym.
  Even the guy that coached some teams that rarely lost at "The Shoe" was complementary of the team he just defeated..
  "I really like Mick's team," said Coach Huggins. "I think they are very talented and I think we did a great job guarding them. You have to stop Yancy (Gates) inside. They have so many guys. Larry Davis has shot terrific for them. Sean (Kilpatrick) has come in and shot well, and I think (Dion) Dixon is a really good player. (Rashad) Bishop does everything for them. He's a terrific defender and can shoot the three. They are a very good basketball team."
  The toughest thing about the loss to the Mountaineers is it was a home loss and the home games become crucial.
  The reason they are is the Big East schedule makers aren't always kind to some teams. I noticed this doing some investigation after looking at UC's schedule and noticing large gaps in home games.
  For instance, the Bearcats don't return to Fifth Third Arena until Feb. 13 against St. John's.
That's a 15-day lay-off in between home dates.  In January, after the USF game on the 12th, the Bearcats weren't back until two weeks later against Rutgers Jan. 26.
  After Louisville's here Feb. 16, UC isn't back until Feb. 28 against Connecticut.  Then, they get a week in between the Huskies and Georgetown on March 5.
  What that amounts to is an incredibly long time to be away from familiar rims and fans.
  Playing any Big East game can be treacherous, but when you're spending a lot of time on the road trying to eek out wins, it can wear on your team.
  From my unscientific research, the only teams that have it worse than UC in terms of long road stretches are:  Providence, Syracuse and Notre Dame.
  UC will have had three gaps since the first of the year of 14, 15 and 12 days in between home dates.  Notre Dame will have breaks of 11, 15 and 17 days; Providence 18, 15 and 11; and Syracuse 14, 15 and 15.
  Of those teams (as of Jan. 30) the Irish are 6-3, UC and Syracuse 5-4 and Providence 2-7.
  Meantime, Pitt at the top of the league has just a couple of 12-day stretches and second-place Louisville goes no more than 10 days in between dates at the KFC Yum! Center.
  Is there anything to all this?
  Well, if you enjoy taking bumpy, side roads with pot-holes and an extra day to get to a destination, maybe not.  If you like the convenient, brisk interstate and the comfort of your home pillow, maybe so.
  If I ever figure out the key to winning in this league, I'll be a rich man. Until then, when you hear some of the so-called "mid-major" leagues belly-aching about a Big East or an ACC, SEC, etc. getting so many teams in the tournament, there's more than ample evidence to shut them up.





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