In the Big East, we should see these developments coming by now. Even as Rutgers and Louisville both charged undefeated toward the finish line it always felt like the the Big Eastyness of the season was yet to come. You know, the point when all logic and reason disappears and we start digging into tiebreaker G.2 in the manual.
Insanity took longer than normal, but arrived this weekend. Thanks to Rutgers losing at Pittsburgh and UConn winning at Louisville (!) chaos returns.
Remarkably, the Bearcats could still grab a piece of the Big East title. They can't advance to the BCS.
Basically, here is the scenario in which they own at least a share of the Big East title for the fourth time in five years:
Louisville beats Rutgers on Thursday. UC wins at UConn on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
That's it. That would create a four-way tie and "mini-conference" for the tie-breaker. UC and Cuse would be 1-2 with the higher ranked of Rutgers and Louisville advancing.
Not the most exciting for the fans, but still something to root for. All signs still point toward Charlotte for the Dec. 27 Belk Bowl, but Orlando isn't an impossibility.
Let's eat ...
--- I wrote after Friday's win against USF about this defense that finds ways to shut down opponents. They haven't been dominant or flashy even like last year's group. They've been resilient and effective.
They are currently allowing 17.2 points per game. That is the lowest number since 1981! That's right, the best defense by the defining number in 31 years. They are currently ranked 13th nationally in scoring defense. Yet, where have all the stories been about them? Where is all the praise? And they did all this without Walter Stewart for half the season. Sure, the schedule didn't come full of Oregons and Oklahomas, but there are plenty of schedules over the last 31 years that weren't the toughest.
In fact, only six times during that 31-year span has the defensive scoring average even been below 20.
Much thanks to football SID to the stars Ryan Koslen for tracking down the info for me.
--- Rumors are flying all over the place last night and this morning on multiple Bearcats topics. I try not to do rumors here. If you want those, I'm sure you know places to find them.
--- Unfortunately, zero Big East teams are currently ranked in the Top 25. That's a bad look. Not that looks really matter anymore considering the unstable climate.
--- This weekend's game at UConn doesn't look like the pushover it did before Saturday. They had been a disaster area before heading into Louisville to pull off the upset in triple overtime.
UConn is much like UC, actually, only their offense has been downright dreadful most of the season. They rank in the top 20 nationally in scoring defense (19th, 18.5 ppg) just as the Cats do, but on offense they average just 17.8 points per game -- good for 119 out of 124 in the country.
It gets worse. In conference games they are averaging just 13.3 points per game.
--- I teased this in the Cliff's Notes, but ICYMI, here's Walter Stewart speaking for the first time since his injury. Tommy G with the exclusive and enlightening piece.
--- Zach Collaros' Toronto Argonauts won the Grey Cup yesterday. He was on the injured list and didn't play except for the one final game of the season (#CrazyForSwayze), but a champ nonetheless. Congrats to him.
--- All right, on to the big basketball weekend. UC comes back from Vegas winners. They take down Iowa State on Friday, 78-70, and beat Oregon in the championship Saturday night, 77-66.
Here's a nice championship game recap from Eamonn Brennan.
Biggest story of the weekend for me, Titus Rubles.
The Big Three (more on the nicknames in a moment) are going to get theirs, but Rubles ability to assert himself offensively -- particularly in the defining moments Saturday -- give an elite feel to this team.
Rubles showed a glimpse against Iowa State when the Bearcats couldn't buy a bucket as the lead cut to as little as 3 in the final minutes, he pulled up without hesitation from 15 feet and buried a jumper. The next time, he unleashed the full arsenal. He hit jumpers, he drove and dished to Jermaine Sanders for a big 3, knocked down free throws. All sparking the 25-12 run to close the game.
He could be the coup of the last recruiting season if this continues.
--- Only two Big East teams are left undefeated and it's not even December yet. Syracuse (4-0), Cincinnati (6-0).
--- Even the hateriest of haters over at CBSSports who have been down on Bearcats all season, can't deny them at this point. They landed at No. 21 in their Top 25 (and one).
--- Seth Davis ranks UC 13th.
--- Saturday's opponent, Alabama (5-0), owns a 22-point win against Villanova -- which turns out means very little after Jay Wright lost back-to-back games to Columbia and LaSalle. Bama also beat Oregon State, but they will a great test at Fifth Third Arena. That's 3 p.m. tip on Saturday.
--- A few KenPom stats for you to hold a better understanding of why UC's playing well right now. All this talk about their offense, it's actually the defense posting the most impressive numbers.
They ranked 10th nationally in overall defensive rating (allowing only 88.2 points every 100 possessions) and fourth nationally in adjusted FG% defense (accounts for 3-pointers).
One of the big victories on offense is they rank 29th nationally in offensive rebounding percentage. Without a true offensive big man, they're grabbing 40 percent of their misses. That's a big number. It saved them vs. Oregon when they rebounded 45 percent of their missed shots.
--- OK, so, thanks to everyone who sent in email submissions regarding the nickname situations for JaQuon Parker, Sean Kilpatrick and Cashmere Wright. As for the voting in last week's poll, the "Cincinnati Three-Way" won out by a 60 percent vote. Now, there were some very strong submissions from you guys that we will be putting into play. Basically, Cash, Parker and SK need to approve of their own nickname anyway. So, I'm going to sit down with them and run through some of your offerings and see what sticks. Then, we'll come back with the final poll pitting their top two against Cincinnati Three-Way for our final Bearcats Beat champion.
Here were the best of some of your offerings:
3G Network (Leaves it open for the stronger 4G network upon Rubles emergence)
3 Live Crew (Among my personal favorites, unique)
Damage A Trois (which, remarkably, was dirtier than referencing 2 Live Crew. Uncle Luke would be devastated)
Tres Leches (This literally translates to three milks, so not sure I get it, but catchy at the very least)
We're essentially in the losers bracket of the double-elimination CYO tournament right now trying to sift through to see who faces the champ. Be patient. By the end of the week, we should have a universal nickname.
If you have a nickname suggestion there is still time. I won't be sitting down with those three for a couple days. Shoot your ideas to me today and I'll add them to the list. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me on Twitter @pauldehnerjr.
--- To the randomness ...
--- A great piece taking a look at one of the great albums that defined a genre of music for years.
--- I try to stay pretty close to the music scene, but I haven't heard of one of these albums listed as the best of the year.
--- 12 tech gifts to make life easier. You know we've entered a new era when the Swiss Army Knife comes with a usb drive.
--- Nobody, and I mean nobody, cares that you are stepping down, Fireman Ed.
--- This is the year of the head shave. Man, this baldness thing might finally be working out for me.
--- Plus, just when baldness is becoming cool Danica Patrick gets a divorce. Everything's coming up Dehner.
--- Again, thanks to everyone for reading, listening to the pod, voting in the polls and watching the videos. Love to hear from you, so shoot any emails (email@example.com) to me or chat on Twitter (@pauldehnerjr).
In the meantime, back to my comfort zone with Pearl Jam in full grunge attire from the 90s. Have a great day.