Gameday is here. So, for a night we can all stop talking about publicity, respect, social stress and refocus on basketball. Don't get me wrong, I love off-the-court issues in sports. The stories behind the stories one of the best parts about this business, in my opinion.
In fact, phenomenal journalist Jeff Pearlman wrote in the Wall Street Journal last week about how talking about sports far exceeds actually watching them.
However, at this point in the season when the games mean so much and drama has been injected into each game, breaking down basketball becomes much more enjoyable.
So, what to make of the Hoyas? Do the Bearcats have a realistic chance?
If you don't know by now, two things are certain during every game in the Big East: 1) A referee with white hair and sluggish gait will blow a call and 2) every team has a realistic chance every night.
For entertainment only, the Hoyas opened as a seven-point favorite against the Bearcats. They've won nine of 10 and four in a row at home. The last time they lost at home nobody had seen an episode of Police Women of Cincinnati. (BTW, where are the city's PR people with this show? When did this get signed off on? Yeah, let's promote all the crime, riff-raff and street trash we have to offer. It's not like people don't already know us for Jerry Springer, Larry Flynt and the Bengals)
Some quick conference-games-only stats on Georgetown:
-- The Hoyas lead the BE in field goal percentage (47)
-- Third in 3-point FG percentage defense (30)
-- Third in blocked shots (4.53 per game)
-- Third in 3-pointers per game (6.4)
On the flip side...
-- 15th in turnover margin (-2.93). UC is 1st (+2.79)
-- 12th in defenisve rebound percentage (64). UC is 5th (67).
-- 10th in offensive rebound percentage (34). UC is 5th (36).
Moral of the story, UC needs to find some way to frustrate the efficient Hoyas offense, own the boards and dominate the turnover battle.
Sure, it's just that easy.
--- Bill Koch's game preview offers some more perspective on some topics we've been discussing here the last few days.
--- Yesterday, I wrote a piece about Rashad Bishop's case for Defensive Player of the Year. While Mick Cronin makes great points and every team on the schedule should be aware of his defensive prowess, I just wonder if the coaches will be smart enough to give the award to a player nowhere near the top of the two major defensive statistical categories.
--- Bearcats Blog does a Q and A with Raphielle Johnson of HoopsTalkLive and Collegehoops.net.
It includes some Big East, Bearcats and tips for filling out your NCAA bracket.
--- Chad Brendel with Georgetown preview nuggets.
--- Chad and I were having this discussion while waiting for media availability to start on Monday: If you had to play a Big East game on the road tomororow, what would be the last place you'd want to go?
An argument could be made for Georgetown, strictly by how well they've been playing. Villanova's Pavillion is tough, but they've proven beatable lately. Chad went with Pitt and it's hard to disagree. The Panthers are clearly the class of the league and that gym provides a huge advantage.
Where the Bearcats will be tonight is at the least No. 2, though.
--- If there is any good news about playing GT, it's that leading scorer Austin Freeman struggled mightily shooting the ball of late. While he's hitting 40 percent from deep on the season, he's made 4 of his last 27 (15 percent, in case you were wondering).
He's hasn't reached his 17.7 ppg average in any of the last four games. He managed just four points in a win Saturday at USF.
--- Here's the TV information for tonight's game. Remember, 9 p.m. tip. Sorry HD TV owners, the only thing you'll be seeing in 1080p tonight is 20-somethings balancing cookies on their forehead in Minute to Win It.
--- Quote from Rick Pitino in the postgame following his win against Rutgers last night: Pitino on Cincinnati: "I don't think they're an NCAA Tournament team. I know they're an NCAA Tournament team." (h/t Jon Rothstein)
Realize he's great friends with Mick and just got lambasted by the Cats. It's an easy statement for him to make. Nonetheless, a fine compliment.
--- Mike DeCourcy with a quick dissertation on how reasonable an 11-bid Big East would be, even if it boils the blood of every mid-major coach in the country.
--- UConn will show up here on Sunday with off-court distractions part of the conversation after Jim Calhoun's suspension was handed down by the NCAA.
--- UNC-Asheville's Matt Dickey with a steal and buzzer-beater on Coastal Carolina. Love that that you could audibly hear the crowd's collective heart sinking.
--- Quick football intermission: Brian Bennett writes about some offensive upkeep needed this spring in Cincinnati as well as a spring ball preview.
BTW, Spring Game is April 16.
On to some randomness...
--- Hofstra really loves Charles Jenkins.
--- Bad news for Adam Wainwright. Great news for the Redlegs.
--- The Big Lead with a fantastic headline/photo combo.
--- I'm a little late on this, but Basketball Jones interviewed NBA players to see what they would call their scent, if they had one like Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian do. Funny stuff.
IMO, it's best not to be smelled at all, good or bad. My scent would be called: Undetectable. (Sales prediction: less than brisk)
--- It would be pretty incredible to see this type of student section organization vs. UConn on Sunday. Really, if the US military had the type of organization Northern Iowa does, we'd have Bin Laden in custody by sundown.