Bearcats Breakfast 2.27.12

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Reflecting back on what occurred Sunday afternoon wouldn't be the most pleasant way to start a Monday morning. So, I'll attempt to stunt the disappointment with a small Seinfeld break.

Every time I see a major awards show, such as the Oscars last night, I can't help but watch and follow the worldwide peanut gallery on Twitter. Nick Nolte -- who appears to have been living in either the jungle or inside of a radioactive tanning booth -- took the brunt of most jokes along with Angenlina Jolie's emaciated right leg. In the end, The Artist ended up winning Best Picture. Nothing says Best Picture has zero to do with public enjoyment like selecting a silent movie as the best of the year.

All that said, apparently the entire cast was on The Today's Show this morning and some still in their tuxedos from last night.Can't help but be reminded of Kramer's Scarsdale Surprise. The Aritist folks must have watched the sunrise at Liza's.

Feeling better? No? Well, maybe the news that the newest addition to The Banks is opening today. No? Well, soon enough after a tough loss you will be able to literally leave the galaxy.

All right, let's talk about this...

--- At the end of the day,
the 46-45 loss at USF doesn't change the bottom line, in my opinion. The Bearcats still need to win one of the final two games and that should be enough to put them in The Dance.

Specifically, win against No. 10 Marquette on Wednesday and punch the ticket. Period.

The knee-jerk reactionaries of the college basketball world went all doomsday on the Bearcats in the moments after their loss, but they'll be the same ones pointing out their four Top 25 and six Top 50 wins should they beat Marquette.

The Jay Bilas Index of the Top 68 teams ranks them at No. 41. As he points out in describing Notre Dame (actually ranked 39th by his scale), six Sagarin Top 50 wins are impossible to dismiss. UC would be in the same position should they win Wednesday. They are currently 5-3 in those contests.

Other relevant stats as of Monday morning:

Lunardi's Feb. 24 bracket: UC No. 10 -- safely not among last four in
RPI: 77 (BTW, for the RPI lovers, UK is No. 4 by that metric -- sure, there's three better teams than the Wildcats)
USA Today: In, not among final four in
Sagarin: 42
KenPom: 37
Massey: 45
Bracket Matrix: Avg 11 seed (in 73 of 86 brackets)

--- As a reminder for those who are claiming winning one of the final two games of the season wouldn't be enough to get the Bearcats in, no team with 11 Big East wins has ever been left out of the tournament. Zero. 40 of 40.

If there ever were a perfect storm for it to occur, it would be a season when the conference is perceived to be a down and a tough non-conference start to the season anchors a team's position, that said, the bubble is too soft and there are too many quality wins of those possible 11 to make an unprecedented exclusion.

--- Meanwhile, beating
Marquette will be the toughest home task of the season for UC. The Eagles reeled off 12 of 13, including the 95-78 dismantling of the Bearcats in Milwaukee. Jae Crowder (17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.4 steals, 51% shooting) is looking like he'll be the Big East POY. And rightfully so.

Buzz Williams is so happy he's dancing to Country Roads following a 61-60 win in Morgantown. He couldn't have done it to a better group of fans/institution as they force their way out of the conference.

(Sidenote: Check out this classic Bob Huggins press conference after the game. How are his freshman doing? "They suck.")

--- Much more coming on
Marquette in the next few days leading up to Wednesday's game (7 p.m. on ESPN or ESPN2)

--- Much of the talk this week will
be about seniors Dion Dixon and Yancy Gates for their final game in Fifth Third Arena. Scott Springer touched on it this weekend.

Dan Hoard wrote about Yancy's legacy yesterday. Read it, then click back here.

Gates, in my eyes, will go down as the most poked, prodded, criticized, demonized and scrutinized basketball player to come through UC that I can remember. We've watched a kid, knocked for immaturity coming out of high school, be forced to grow up in the brightest of hometown spotlights.

He's shown up, worked to make himself better and been one of the more productive players to run through UC in its storied history -- with the numbers Dan points out.

Many criticisms of Yancy have been justified, but the biggest problem I have with the narrative surrounding Gates was the concept he is somehow a selfish player. No matter what the situation, all he's ever done is whatever the coaches asked in the best interest of the team.

Never was that more evident this season. While many outside expected him to be some type of selfish jerk when asked to let the offense revolve around the guards, he reacted the same way he always has -- in whatever manner the coaches ask. He's taken on the role of leader, he's taken a back seat offensively, he's focused on rebounding and defense.

Unselfish, team-first basketball has been the staple of Gates career here -- whether outsiders can see that or not. They might not have liked the way he produced or questioned his effort at times, but nobody can deny winning has always been No. 1 for him and not a me-first quest for the NBA.

--- How much does the aesthetic appeal (more specifically, lackthereof)
affect the way a loss is viewed. According to Matt Norlander, the ugly, defensive nature of UC's loss hurt them. I disagree. Every game is different. That one was played at an sluggish, plodding pace against the best defense in the conference.

--- UC clinched at least a bye in the first round of the Big East tournament by virtue of other results on Saturday. They are still in play for the double bye. If they win their final two and USF (@UL, WVU) loses twice and Georgetown (ND, @Marquette) loses once, UC will finish fourth and earn a double bye for the first time in its history.

--- Moving on to The Combine,
plenty was said regarding Isaiah Pead and other Bearcats football products.

Let's start with Pead who ran a 40-yard dash time tied (4.47) for fifth among running backs. His three-cone drill time (6.95) was fourth best among RBs.

Joe Reedy suspects this means Pead won't run at UC's Pro Day on Friday.

Here was Marvin Lewis talking about Pead on Friday:

"I think he's a really good prospect. I haven't watched tape of him yet. It's only TV scouting. I think he showed a different dimension with the punt returning he did at Senior Bowl and I think that will do nothing but elevate his stock. He's a great prospect. I haven't met him and I don't think he's on our list here (to interview) because we'll be able to spend enough time with him back at home."

Here was Pead taking with reporters about what type of back he is:

"They ask me what type of back I am and I feel like I'm an every down guy," he said. "Blocking has to improve leverage and pad level wise. I need to gain weight."

Pead said he weighed in 5-10, 197 pounds.

He's definitely a bit undersized. Probably 5 to 10 more pounds will be necessary. He's not absurdly small, though, there were two 1,000-yard rushers under 205 pounds last year.

Reggie Bush    6-0  203
Chris Johnson 5-11  191

--- Bill Rabinowitz of the Columbus Dispatch says Pead's stock is rising.

--- Here's Pead talking with
reporters at the combine media session.

--- I love listening to Derek Wolfe talk. He worked out late this morning. This is him speaking on what makes him a warrior on the interior.

"My mental toughness. I always say I'm going to take someone to where I've been before but they've never been. So I know what it's like there and I can handle it, but they can't go there with me. That's what I try to do every game. It's just a chess match. Whoever wants to give up first, it's not going to be me."

More on Wolfe and John Hughes tomorrow. Will certainly be a busy week on the blog. Keep coming back.

For now, remember UC hoops fans, keep your head up. Listen to Frank.

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