In the words of Will Ferrell: That. Just. Happened.
Saturday served as a celebration of the official revivial of Bearcats basketball and hopefully reminded everyone how rewarding supporting the program can be. As Mick Cronin said after the game: "This is what it's supposed to be like."
A ton of blood, sweat and frequent flyer miles went into rebuilding the program back to what occurred on Saturday, but it seemed to feel worth it on a Senior Day that couldn't have been more perfect for the home team.
I asked Rashad Bishop if the day could have been any better for him and what beating Georgetown by 22 points to close out his home career means. His loss for words and ear to ear grin told the story.
"I don't know, it's big," he said. "I don't even know what to tell you about that one."
Sometimes not knowing what to say says it all.
But for the Bearcats, depsite winning five of six, four in a row on the road and adding three victories against ranked opponents, none of that matters anymore. 24-7, 11-7 is in the books, now they're 0-0.
UC plays Wednesday at 7 p.m. against the winner of Villanova-USF as the No. 7 seed.
People have been asking me what I think their chances are in New York this week and my response has been the same: They aren't favored to win it and probably aren't even in the conversation, but they have as good a chance as anybody right now. The depth of the league has this tournament as wide open as it has ever been and few teams are playing as well right now as UC.
--- So, since you know I love letting history predict the future, I did a little research to see what being hot entering the Big East tournament meant in relation to success in it.
Over the past five years, I took the two teams to make it to the championship game and listed their seed and record in the five games leading up to the trip to NYC. The first team listed each year was the champion.
11UC 7 11-7 4-1 3
Year/Team Seed Record Last 5 Wins v Top25
10WVU 3 13-5 4-1 2
10GTown 8 10-8 2-3 0
09Louisville 1 16-2 5-0 1
09Cuse 6 11-7 4-1 1
08Pitt 7 10-8 3-2 0
08GT 1 15-3 5-0 2
07GT 1 13-3 4-1 1
07Pitt 3 12-4 3-2 0
06Cuse 9 7-9 2-3 0
06Pitt 6 10-6 2-3 0
What does this mean?
***It doesn't appear a hot run entering the Big East tournament predicates a quality run in it. In fact, if you look at the five long-shot seeds to make runs to the championship, only 2009 Syracuse could you really see coming with their 4-1 mark entering the tourney. Three of the five had below .500 records in their five games leading up to to the tourney.
***As far as the notion that UC has as good a chance as anybody to advance to the title game, 09Cuse and 08Pitt serve as perfect examples. In fact, the situation for UC is nearly identical to the Syracuse run and Pittsburgh took the 7 seed all the way to the title.
***Each of the last three years -- and four of the last five -- a team slotted 6 or lower has been in the BE title game. Each of those four years that team had the same or worse winning percentage in conference play as UC.
***To say UC doesn't have a real chance to compete in the championship would be ignoring all the statistical evidence.
--- Another tidbit to remember about the Big East tourney, the double bye system has not been kind since league adopted it two years ago and caused coaches to fight for its elimination.
Last year, only West Virginia, which hit the De'Sean Butler banker at the buzzer against UC, survived its first game. Three of the four teams in the semis were single-bye holders.
In 2009, two of four were single-bye holders.
--- Recent history of the No. 7 seed:
Year/Team Record Result
10ND 10-8 W vs No.10 SH, W vs. No. 2 Pitt, L vs No. 3 WVU
09WVU 10-8 W vs No. 10 ND, W vs No. 2 Pitt, L vs No. 7 Cuse (OT)
08Pitt 10-8 W vs No. 10 UC, W vs No. 2 UL (OT), W vs No. 6 Marq, W vs 1GT
07WVU 9-7 W vs No. 10 SH, L vs No. 2 UL
07SHall 9-7 L vs No. 10 Rutgers
--- Dan Hoard wrote about Mick Cronin's perfect day being the day he wins the Big East championship in New York City then eats dinner with friends and family after. It may be time to at least put in the back of his mind what his restaurant of choice would be.
--- With UC playing the winner of Nova-USF, it should be noted how awful of a two weeks it has been for the Wildcats. And now second-leading scorer Corey Stokes may not play in the tournament with a hamstring injury.
They've lost six of eight and one of the wins was in OT against DePaul.
--- Sean Kilpatrick made the Big East All-Rookie Team. He has the highest offensive rating of any player on the Bearcats and highest percentage of possessions used on offense.
He finished the regular season averaging 9.9 points in 20.4 minutes, tops on the team.
--- Not one UC player was among the All Big East teams. It says something about the depth and chemistry it took to build to 11-7.
ALL-BIG EAST FIRST TEAM
Kemba Walker, Connecticut, G, Jr., 6-1, 172, Bronx, N.Y.
Austin Freeman, Georgetown, G, Sr., 6-3.5, 227, Mitchellville, Md.
*Ben Hansbrough, Notre Dame, G, Sr., 6-3, 206, Poplar Bluff, Mo.
Ashton Gibbs, Pittsburgh, G, Jr., 6-2, 190, Scotch Plains, N.J.
Marshon Brooks, Providence, G-F, Sr., 6-5, 200, Stone Mountain, Ga.
Dwight Hardy, St. John's, G, Sr., 6-2, 195, Bronx, N.Y.
ALL-BIG EAST SECOND TEAM
Preston Knowles, Louisville, G, 6-1, 190, Winchester, Ky.
Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette, G, Jr., 6-2, 215, Raleigh, N.C.
Brad Wanamaker, Pittsburgh, G, Sr., 6-4, 210, Philadelphia, Pa.
Rick Jackson, Syracuse, F, Sr., 6-9, 240, Philadelphia, Pa.
Corey Fisher, Villanova, G, Sr., 6-1, 200, Bronx, N.Y.
ALL-BIG EAST THIRD TEAM
Chris Wright, Georgetown, G, Sr., 6-1, 208, Washington, D.C.
Tim Abromaitis, Notre Dame, F, Sr., 6-8, 235, Unionville, Ct.
Jeremy Hazell, Seton Hall, G, Sr., 6-5, 188, Bronx, N.Y.
Kris Joseph, Syracuse, F, Jr., 6-7, 207, Montreal, Quebec
Corey Stokes, Villanova, G, Sr., 6-5, 220, Bayonne, N.J.
BIG EAST HONORABLE MENTION
Peyton Siva, Louisville, G, So., 5-11, 180, Seattle, Wash.
Jimmy Butler, Marquette, F, Sr., 6-7, 220, Tomball, Texas
Scoop Jardine, Syracuse, G, So., 6-2, 190, Philadelphia, Pa.
Kevin Jones, West Virginia, F, Jr., 6-8, 255, Mount Vernon, N.Y.
BIG EAST ALL-ROOKIE TEAM
Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati, G, Fr., 6-4, 215, White Plains, N.Y.
Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut, G-F, 6-5, 185, Norcross, Ga.
Shabazz Napier, Connecticut, G, Fr., 6-0, 170, Randolph, Mass.
*Cleveland Melvin, DePaul, F, Fr., 6-8, 210, Baltimore, Md.
Brandon Young, DePaul, G, Fr., 6-3, 175, Washington, D.C.
Gilvydas Biruta, Rutgers, F, Fr., 6-8, 230, Jonava, Lithuania
*denotes unanimous selection
--- The respect of the Top 25 polls is finally starting to come around. Even Gary Parrish, who hasn't been a UC believer all season (pretty sure this is the first time he's ranked them) placed them at No. 19 in his poll.
--- Of course, some just refuse to give any credit. Jeff Goodman really must have it out for the Cats. He still ranked Villanova, of a 21-10 record, 9-9 in the Big East and losers of 6 of 8, ahead of UC. Hmmm.....
--- Most NCAA brackets right now have UC on the 6/7 line with some as low as 4 and high as 10.
--- For those of you unhappy with the TV situation, know that UC's success should warrant a more prominent slate on ESPN's family next season. But don't go thinking a Big East TV Network could ride off the power of the college hoops season.
--- Lance McAlister broke down the numbers behind the process of the rebuild:
UC year by year under Mick
--- BearcatLair had video from the celebration at the conclusion of the UC win on Saturday.